America Chavez, a superpowered, inter-dimensional being who can literally punch holes through the fabric of reality, is one of the few queer superheroes of color in mainstream comics right now and the first queer hero Marvel has ever given their own solo series.
America, written by openly queer novelist Gabby Rivera and illustrated by Joe Quinones, takes its titular character out of her comfort zone fighting intergalactic threats and places her on campus at the Sotomayor University for metahumans studying to learn more about the cultural history of the world(s) they’re trying to protect. Note the Department of Radical Women & Intergalactic Indigenous Peoples:
The series’ first issue does a solid job of establishing who America is and what it is she’s trying to get out of her time at Sotomayor, but the issue ends with an iconic exchange that has a significance that transcends the story Rivera is trying to tell. As a part of a homework assignment, America is accidentally transported back to a World War II battlefield where she meets Captain America, who, as luck would have it, was in the middle of a fistfight Adolf Hitler.
Naturally America is…stunned.
And then, she does what any queer, female immigrant of color would do if they ever came face with the father behind modern-day Naziism would do: she knocks him the hell out.
The panel is an obvious homage to Jack Kirby’s cover of the very first issue of Captain America from 1941, but the image is just as powerful and relevant in 2017.
I spoke with Rivera as a recent event at Midtown Comics about the panel and she explained to me that she began planning the book back in October of last year, long before punching white supremacists became a politically charged internet meme.
“We always wanted to end the issue with something strong,” Rivera told me. “We wanted to show America doing something powerful and iconic.”
Kirby’s illustration of Captain America punching Hitler came out a full year before the U.S. actually got involved in WWII and, like America‘s take on the image, has come at a similarly timely moment in American history. White supremacists are coming out of the woodwork to terrorize people of color and different faiths, what better a message to send than “America sees you and she’s ready to fight back?”