A multiverse-hopping juggernaut, America Chavez has finally taken her place in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. With actress Xochitl Gomez portraying the LGTBQ+ hero on screen, she joins a new wave of next-generation characters alongside Kate Bishop, Kid Loki, and Patriot who have made their debut in Phase 4 of Marvel’s ambitious on-screen universe. So who is Ms. America?
America Chavez is a relatively new character, first created by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta in the pages of Marvel’s 2011 series Vengeance. (For comparison, Doctor Strange and his apprentice Wong debuted in the pages of Strange Tales #110 all the way back in 1951.) But that hasn’t stopped her from rapidly becoming a fan favorite within the broader Marvel Comics universe. With her arrival in Vengeance, “Miss America ‘’ splashed down with seemingly limitless strength, the ability to fly, and the unique power of opening star-shaped portals into new dimensions. From the start, she’s committed to the goal of protecting Earth-616 from multiversal destruction and disaster.
Over the last decade writers including Kieron Gillen, Kelly Thompson, Gabby Rivera, Al Ewing and others have added to her hard-punching, no-nonsense mythos. They’ve also expanded on her magical and otherworldly origins, from mysterious beginnings in the Utopian Parallel, a dimension out of time where America and her mothers lived, to her time superhero-ing with teams like the Young Avengers, the Ultimates, and the West Coast Avengers.
To coincide with America Chavez’s debut on the big screen, Paste has assembled a small reading guide to the MCU’s newest superhero. If you don’t want to drop a ton of money, hunting and buying up back issues, check out our guide to reading comic books online. In addition to subscription services, you can find free options to read a plethora of comic books via your local library.
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Released in the wake of major Marvel events, including Ultimate Fallout (the death of Ultimate Spider-Man) and the tentpole series Fear Itself, Vengeance was released to little fanfare when it hit shelves in September of 2011. But, thanks to the introduction of America Chavez and the series’ set of iconic covers by Gabriele Dell’otto, it became a cult hit.
If you’re looking for America’s first appearance, you’ll find it her, but there isn’t much more about her history. In the story, America leads the latest version of the Teen Brigade as they fight off a new generation of villains.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Colors Matthew Wilson
Kieron Gillen can be credited with crafting America’s origin story by using her as a catalyst for 2013’s Young Avengers series. In Young Avengers #3, we get the first look at America’s parents, Amalia and Elena Chavez, who are seemingly superheroes in their own right. While they only appear briefly, they reveal that they sacrificed themselves for their daughter to protect their home, called the Utopian Parallel.
The inclusion of same-sex parents is significant because the series made its debut two years before the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015. No spoilers here, but Gillen presents an intriguing take on Chavez’s origins while presenting a fun romp through the multiverse. At the end of the series, Chavez also comes out to her teammates, lamenting her short fling with the Ultimate Nullifier. Gillen also gives a little more depth to Chavez, as he recounts integral moments of her youth.
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Kenneth Rockafort
Colors: Dan Brown
Long story short, in 2015, Marvel hired Jonathan Hickman to smash their existing universes (Earth-616 and Earth-1610) together with the event Secret Wars. (Check out A-Force and the mini series Siege for America’s exploits during this time.)
In the wake of that event, America joined the Ultimates, a group that included Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Blue Marvel, and Spectrum trying to solve universe-ending problems, starting with the planet eater known as Galactus. Putting the spotlight back on Chavez for the first time since Young Avengers, writer Al Ewing fleshes out America’s personal life, giving her a girlfriend (Lisa Halloran, an EMT) and showcasing their dynamic. Ewing also expands on her origin by having America explain how she struck out on her own as an orphan at the age of 6.
Ewing’s Ultimates series also provides a certain weight to the scope of Chavez’s powers as he takes readers on a tour of the dangers and wonders of the multiverse. If you’re looking for more multiverse after reading Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, this is a great place to jump on.
Writer: Gabby Rivera
Artists: Joe Quinones, Ming Doyle
If you’re looking for a quick primer on America Chavez, there’s no better spot to begin than 2016’s America, the character’s first solo comics series. It follows the superhero as she becomes a student at the extra-dimensional school, Sotomayor University, and writer Rivera and artist Quinones dive headfirst into the mythos of the Utopian Parallel as the reader gets to know more about Chavez’s interstellar history and mythic lineage.
Rivera introduces Chavez’s warlock luchador grandma Marimar, who guides her descendant on an enlightening journey. Readers also get a look at the family’s past in a world called Planeta Fuertona, hinted to be Chavez’s family’s real homeworld before they fled to the Utopian Parallel.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Stefano Casell
Friends for years, Kate Bishop and America Chavez team up again in 2018 when the latter moves to the West Coast to help the former assemble a new team of Avengers in (you guessed it) West Coast Avengers.
In addition to stopping a team of mutant landsharks in the series’ first arc, America and company take on a horde of bad ideas come to life thanks to A.I.M, the West Coast Masters of Evil, and B.R.O.D.O.C.K. This series also includes Gwenpool, Kid Omega and fan favorite, Jeff the Shark.
Writer: Kalinda Vazquez.
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Released last year, America Chavez: Made in the U.S.A. takes a new look at Chavez’s origins. In previous stories, America has recounted how, after the death of her mothers, she left the Utopian Parallel behind in order to strike out on her own when she was just six years old.
That’s where Made in the U.S.A. picks up, as the reader learns that America’s memories aren’t exactly what they seem. This story adds a completely new twist on the popular hero’s family history, the source of her powers, and the events leading up to her parents’ death.
Dana Forsythe is based in Boston and is a longtime reporter covering art, comic books and culture.