by Spencer Irwin
This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Nobody can make it through life alone — not even someone as powerful and independent as America Chavez. There have been many inspirational figures in America’s life, but no direct mentor figures. That’s something Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones, and Ming Doyle aim to fix in America 4, where they not only give America Chavez her very own mentor, but show why it’s important for her to have one in the first place.
The issue opens by revisiting the death of America’s moms. We’ve seen that their sacrifice is what initially inspired America to become a hero, but in this retelling from the moms’ perspectives we can see that what their sacrifice has gifted America in motivation, it’s cost her in knowledge.
It takes the mysterious Madrimar, then, to help impart this knowledge to America, through the likes of Storm and Peggy Carter. Their guidance provides more than simple facts to America, though: it fills her with enough confidence to become a “supernova.”
That’s the true power of mentorship — it gives the mentored the structure, confidence, and “permission” they need to live up to their full potential. To America’s credit, her deciding to enroll in college in the first place was likely an admission that she needed something like this in her life, and to her even greater credit, America’s passing along the feeling she’s been given to the next generation by becoming a mentor of sort to the “Chavez Guerillas.”
This issue is such an ode to mentorship that it’s actually surprising when America eventually rejects Madrimar. Her anger is understandable to an extent, but I have to wonder if she’s actually upset about Madrimar’s manipulations, or simply at the fact that she needed so much help at all. No matter how much America’s grown, she still has plenty to learn, and I can only hope she continues to find the guidance she needs to become the best America Chavez she can be.
(Speaking of which, do we think Madrimar actually is future America? It’s so obvious that there must be a twist of some sort coming, but at the same time, I love the idea that the only person badass enough to truly mentor America Chavez is America herself.)
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?
The real shame is for all of the ideas in this issue, the actual dramatics feel weak. As you said, it was surprising that America didn’t accept Madrimar’s mentorship, and it is n large part because the sense fo character arc is not there. We have great moments, America going supernova is fantastic moment. But it feels like it relies on you filling the blanks on America’s character arc. It is great credit for the moments that they provide enough in the scenes themselves that you can pretend the rest worked (another moment was America and Lisa breaking up). But too much of the comic doesn’t work, which messes things up. The ideas are so great, but the actual storytelling is so frustrating. You just have to wait for those great moments, because the rest is so, so messy
I’m going to give this a bit more of a chance, because the next two issues have Kelly THompson cowriting, and hopefully this will give the chance for Rivera to be mentored by someone who has a better understanding of the specifics of comic book writing. There is a good book buried under the problems, but currently, the problems are very, very big