Framed as "Marvel's New Queer Latina Superhero Series" by Refinery29, Marvel's America Chavez solo title America has named its creative team. Howard the Duck artist Joe Quinones has been paired with YA prose novelist Gabby Rivera for the new series launching this March.
"What I noticed when I was reading the Young Avengers was that it felt like America was being pulled in by different characters - Loki wanted her to do this or that; the fight wasn’t hers. She was treated like a member of the team, but I always wondered what’s in it for her? So my thinking for this new book is that she’s finally asking herself that question: What’s in it for me? Why am I fighting with these people?" said Rivera. "What I want is to go to college and I want to start over, and I want to learn about myself and do this for myself. And so that is the big thing that I was thinking about. What’s more American than trying to go to college and trying to find yourself?"
Rivera doesn't identify where Chavez will be matriculating, but describes it as "the university of my dreams" - attending different versions of it as she criss-crosses Marvel's different universes.
"So America is gonna be going to class, but her class will be in Earth-616 and then she’ll also go to other dimensions," said the Juliet Takes A Breath author. "So she gets to punch into her Women in Power class; and she gets to punch into Tribal Ancestry and You 101. Just like rad classes that I would want to take in the university of my dreams."
America will also grapple with the question of just how strong Chavez is; in her previous stories, writers like Joe Casey, Kieron Gillen, and Al Ewing have shown her to have enormous but unspecified abilities, and Rivera said even the character doesn't know her limits yet.
"America doesn’t know how powerful she is, but she’s gonna find out," Rivera said. "And the powers she does have are going to be expanded upon and she’s going to learn how to control and develop them - in the same way that comic book movies have those scenes where they’re training. I think some of the really fun Marvel moments are gonna be when we bring in key players like Captain America and Storm. They are going to be able to help America on her journey. And teach her things about her powers or lead her along the way. Her ancestors will aid in the development of her powers as well."
Editor Wil Moss adds that Chavez' origins as the daughter of two women from "this Utopian dimension" will be explored as well.
"America is from this Utopian dimension where I think it was all women. [She has two moms who] seemingly sacrificed themselves to protect both that world and the whole multiverse, including ours," said Moss. "And when her moms left, America took this chance to venture out but now she can’t get back. She’s been cut off."
"And that’s another element too," adds Rivera. "Like where are my moms? Are there any pieces of them left in the universe? How can I find them or find more about myself? So it’s really like a discovery of herself."
Moss said that the publisher is actively recruiting writers from Young Adult shelves of bookstores due to a perceived overlap in audiences for that genre and superhero fiction.
"I work at an LGBTQ non-profit called GLSEN as a youth programs manager. I got an email from Marvel when I was at work. And I was like, whaaat? What?!," said Rivera. "And the office is all quiet, everyone’s just like click-clacking away and I just left and I called my mom and I was like 'Mom!! I got an an email from Marvel!' My voice went up 48 octaves. I was super-excited. Getting that email from Wil was the first time a man had ever written to me about my book - let alone a white guy."
Rivera said that comic books are "kind of new" for her, particularly because she didn't feel welcome in the medium.
"It’s kind of new for me. I have read graphic novels, and my family loves superhero comic books, so I grew up between their sci-fi world and their Star Trek world and their comic book world," said the writer. "But I have to be honest and say, I thought, maybe there wasn’t space for me in comics."