Welcome back Iggles! This series introduces you to a number of comic book characters and helps you find the best places to read their stories. I’d love to hear your suggestions and requests, so let me know if you have any.
In honour of this month’s Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice theme, and to celebrate Independence Day for my friends to the south, this week’s character is America Chavez, otherwise known as Miss America. She’s the right amount of sugar and spice, and a great character to kick off this July.
Full Name: America Chavez
Species: Utopian Citizen
Home: Utopian Parallel
Abilities: America’s powers include the ability to fly, superhuman strength, invulnerability, and inter dimensional travel.
Motivators: America’s mothers sacrificed themselves to save their home. America was inspired by their actions, and feels driven to prove herself as a hero.
Basically none! Is this cheating? Probably, but it’s a long weekend in the United States, and it was Canada Day earlier this week, so I hope you’ll all give me a pass.
America Chavez made her debut in September of 2011 in the miniseries Vengeance. There are no other versions of her in any other dimension, so her backstory is pretty straightforward. Tragic, but straightforward.
America was raised by her two mothers in a dimension called the Utopian Parallel, which is vastly different from our own. She inherited or otherwise acquired her powers from the dimension’s ambient magical energy; powers which include the power to literally kick her way into other dimensions. When America was six, her mothers died saving their dimension from being sucked into a black hole. America was inspired by their actions, and since her home dimension was not in need of a hero, she ran away across dimensions and eventually became the superhero Miss America.
Miss America joined a team of teenaged superheroes called the Teen Brigade and served as co-leader for a time, before abruptly parting ways. After leaving the Teen Brigade, she encountered Loki (then a teenager) who tried to convince her to kill fellow teen superhero Wiccan. America opted to keep an eye on Wiccan instead, and eventually joined the Young Avengers.
Not The First
America Chavez wasn’t the first character to hold the mantle of Miss America – that was the teenaged heir Madeline Joyce, who fought alongside heroes like Captain America, the Human Torch, and the Sub-Mariner. Young Avengers writer Keiron Gillen said that he “half thinks [she] doesn’t even know that anyone else used that name.”
But Also One of the Few
America Chavez is a Latina superhero, one of the few in current continuity.
America came out at the end of Gillen and McKelvie’s Young Avengers run, becoming one of Marvel’s few lesbian superheroes as well.
Good/Bad/Morals for Hire:
America famously stated that “you couldn’t pay me enough to join the Avengers,” but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a hero through and through. After her moms died saving their home dimension, America ran away to travel across dimensions, and became a superhero. Her own world had no need for heroes, so she left and began crossing dimensions looking for people to help. In doing so, she also ran away from her responsibilities as her home dimension’s future queen – something that is explored in the Young Avengers run.
Miss America was the co-leader of the Teen Brigade, and was also a key member of the Young Avengers. I would argue that her biggest ally is anyone who wants to help the same people she does.
What to Read:
Young Avengers, Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s entire run
Writer Keiron Gillen said that one of the themes of this run is “becoming yourself,” and it is executed perfectly. The Young Avengers are a diverse team of teenagers trying to find out who they are, and making mistakes along the way (some more Earth-shatteringly catastrophic than others). America is nothing short of badass in this run. The art is absolutely amazing, too. Jamie McKelvie is one of my favourite artists – I would read literally anything with his name attached. He draws people like they’re, well, people and not mannequins. He draws some of the most expressive faces in comics, and his art is always a joy to see.
America’s first story in comics is in the miniseries Vengeance, and if you’re a die-hard fan who has to read about her in any way you can, this work is available. I would caution that it wasn’t exactly well reviewed and leaves more than a few loose ends. America does stand out as one of the book’s highlights, but if you’re a casual reader or not overly familiar with the Marvel universe, I’d give this one a pass.
See Her Now/Next:
All Marvel comics are in the middle of a crossover event called Secret Wars. Basically, Doctor Doom destroyed the multiverse and all that’s left is a patchwork planet made up of the surviving bits of other destroyed universes. A-Force stars a number of Marvel’s female superheroes, including She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Medusa. America was expelled in the first issue for violating the rules, which has caused strife amongst the team. America’s return isn’t guaranteed, but she is mentioned frequently, so she might yet return.
After Secret Wars ends, Marvel is launching a number of new titles. Ultimates is one of them. The title features the main universe versions of Black Panther, Spectrum, Blue Marvel, Miss America, and Captain Marvel. Details are currently scarce, but it looks like an interesting team, and sometimes that’s the best part of a group title.