America Chavez: Made In The USA #2 Review

by Charles Martin on April 07, 2021

America Chavez: Made In The USA #2 Review
Writer: Kalinda Vazquez
Artist: Carlos Gómez
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue opens with a flashback to America's (post-adoption) childhood before snapping back to the end of her local hero-ing work with Spider-Man. That scene combination establishes the paradigm for the rest of the issue, which ticks smoothly between family flashbacks and the present day. 

A clear sense of a loving but complicated relationship with the Santanas comes through. They were the supportive, welcoming home that orphan America desperately needed. But her superpowers and her insistence on putting them to work drove a wedge, opened a rift.

And this piece of "it's complicated" backstory is the weakness America's mysterious new antagonist has chosen to exploit. 

Kalinda Vazquez has assembled an excellent chunk of character-centric content and shaped it expertly into a satisfying, self-contained comic. #1 functioned as a good introduction to America Chavez, but #2 does the same job even better, fusing pieces of her established backstory with her newer family connections. The balance between flashbacks and contemporary scenes is outstanding. The two stories feed each other, combining into a unified whole. 

When it comes to another balance, between protagonist and antagonist, this issue is less equitable. America gets the overwhelming majority of the attention. But her mystery foe is still driving the plot and contributing some narration -- and revealing a Big Twist at the end. 

Unequal it may be, but this balance, too, works very well. The antagonist contributes just enough to move the story forward and set a hook for the next issue; America and her family flourish in the additional narrative space made for them.

Artist Carlos Gómez serves the script well with extremely detailed visuals. His character work is impeccable and his settings are realistic. The flashback structure demands an easy-to-overlook feat of character design; he needs to deliver four different Americas for this issue's different time periods. And he knocks it out of the park. All of his Americas are clearly the same character, distinguished from each other by years of growth.

Jesus Aburtov complements the art with some finely-tuned colours. He's rising to Mr. Gómez's high level of detail. Some of the later nighttime scenes are particularly fantastic, fusing black shadows and deep shading with highlights and backlights to create startlingly realistic lighting environments. It does a terrific job tying the characters into their settings.

It's not a flawless comic, but the faults are minor issues of storytelling rather than big conceptual missteps. There are a few points where the flow from panel to panel and balloon to balloon stumbles slightly. There's a plot-critical detail (when America's reviewing a surveillance video) that risks getting overlooked at first read.

These are the little sorts of nits that are easy to pick but also easy to reason past while reading. A moment's thought can reorient the reader and get her back into the story.

The author's prose is clear and the dialogue sounds like natural words real people could speak. But it's not particularly memorable. Kalinda Vazquez's prior writing work is mainly in television; I mention that because this script strikes me as good writing that's waiting for an actor to bring it to life. Mr. Gómez does plenty of emotive drawing to help on that score, enhancing the feelings that live in the script. But the words could speak up for themselves with more authority.

The second issue of America Chavez completes her re-introduction, tying her new/old family situation onto her existing backstory with skill. And the mystery antagonist targeting her and her family pushes the story toward an intriguing confrontation. A nicely paced script and gorgeous art ensure reader satisfaction. It doesn't quite have that spark that turns an issue or a series into a must-read -- but it keeps the fire stoked and makes sparks in the future seem increasingly likely.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Spider-Man doing guest-star duty in these initial issues feels like old-school Marvel synergy in the best way. I wonder whose idea it was?