America Chavez: Made in the USA #4 Review

by Charles Martin on July 07, 2021

America Chavez: Made in the USA #4 Review
Writer: Kalinda Vazquez
Artist: Carlos Gómez
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

When I review a comic, I make it a point to review a comic: 20-odd pages of writing and art that tell their own story. I don't try to throw out my subjective reactions and big-picture thoughts, but I sharply discount them in favour of the more objective question: How successful were these creators at conveying the ideas and feelings that they wanted to?

That precis should hint at why I have a high rating for America #4 and nothing but praise for its creators -- and yet I'm about to write a heap of snippy words (hopefully not too spoilery) expressing strong disagreement with the direction this series has taken.

#4 completes the big retcon job started in #3, finishing off the flashback tale of the "real" Utopian Parallel. America is swayed into believing it (under ambiguous circumstances that leave a sliver of wiggle room for a future walk-back) and propels the contemporary plot forward by a healthy step.

Kalinda Vazquez has been moving every authorial skill in a positive direction as this series unfolds. The dialogue remains superbly realistic, and more time and space have unlocked the deep sense of character engagement that I missed at the start.

The plotting also has a beautiful parallel structure, building bridges between the flashback and the contemporary story. They both become superb vehicles for highlighting America's character. The parallelism turns her love for her mothers into the anchor that hauls her, and the readers, through the retcon intact.

On the artistic side, Carlos Gómez and Jesus Aburtov continue to provide stellar visuals. (Sorry for the pun. (No I'm not.)) The colourist goes the extra mile to invest the settings with excitement and interest, and the artist goes above and beyond to make the characters look dynamic and powerful.

Costuming is the visual element where they synergize most impressively. Mr. Gómez's lines create believable real-world clothes and Mr. Aburtov's sharply contrasting colours give them larger-than-life superhero impact. 

These visuals are cinematic in a wholly positive way.

For an example of how "cinematic" can be a much more ambiguous descriptor, I turn again to the origin retcon.

This plot is also cinematic. As in, "squeezed down into the MCU's margins of believability" cinematic. It's not a bad origin story, and this title's creative team has executed it flawlessly. It's just not as inventive and weird and wild as America's alternate universe origin.

And that's what makes this more grounded, (almost) all-616 origin for America Chavez so frustrating. It errs on the side of mundanity, reaching for a level of realism that even the MCU has left behind. America will hit the screen in Phase Four, in a movie that references alternate universes in its title, so the AU origin seems to be a better fit.

Tangent: This retcon might also be a sign that it's time for Marvel to fully resurrect the 1610. America's new deal -- "your origin is all sinister corporate super-science and the mystical aspects of it are merely your dreams" -- feels very Ultimate Thor. And I would be open to further development along that line; 1610 Thor later got a healthy dose of "ah, not so fast, there is Asgardian magic in play here."

And finally, I grant the creators some additional leeway because I never can tell exactly where an idea like this originates. Was it an editorial mandate presented from on high? If so, Ms. Vazquez and the art team have done a superheroic job of "selling" the retcon and revealing it through a compelling, character-centric story.

In America Chavez #4, a dedicated creative team completes the process of streamlining and rationalizing the character's origin. It's not a job I wanted to see done, but I assert that it's done well. Even with my big-picture objections, I found the beat-by-beat storytelling outstanding. With passionate words and exciting art, the creators keep a lock on my interest as they prepare for a blockbuster finale.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I hope America teams up with Wiccan soon so that he -- the character second-most familiar with the Utopian Parallel -- can weigh in on this retcon.