by Spencer Irwin
This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
One of America‘s greatest strengths as a title is that it’s chock-full of fantastic ideas; unfortunately, one of its greatest weaknesses is that it often doesn’t give those fantastic ideas enough room to breathe and succeed. America 9 is a frustrating installment in that way, blowing through the meaty ideas of last month’s issue (plus a whole host of new concepts) so fast that none have room to land.
Remember last month’s cliffhanger, which found America captured by Oubliette the Exterminatrix, who had taken control of Sotomayor University by posing as its new dean, Billie Brightly? Well, Gabby Rivera and fill-in artist Flaviano resolve it in the most underwhelming way possible — America walks a bit with Oubliette before revealing that she always had the power to escape (but didn’t use it right away for some reason), escaping, then being captured again a few pages later. Okay?
Likewise, the mini-cliffhanger of X’andria joining F.I.S.T. resolved exactly the way I thought it would — she was going undercover, hoping to figure out Brightly’s game — but without any real tension or point. X’andria doesn’t actually figure out anything, and her new outfit/position doesn’t create any new opportunities or roadblocks for her. What was the point of this little subplot at all?
Another frustrating reversal: Brightly/Oubliette had taken complete control of Sotomayor last issue and was rather effective at gaslighting the students and winning them over, but this month she loses her influence (and essentially abandons the role) almost as soon as the issue starts. So much of what was important to this ongoing storyline in issue 8 suddenly becomes irrelevant in issue 9, and it’s frustrating, both from a pacing standpoint and from the fact that issue 8 was genuinely filled with great ideas that deserved to be explored.
The plots this month don’t fare much better. Most of America 9 is spent watching the Chavez Guerillas and Leelumultipass Phi Theta Beta assemble to rescue America, but by the end of the issue she’s already been freed, essentially by a fluke. I’m getting a bad feeling that the Guerillas/Betas’ plan is also going to end up having almost no effect on the story moving forward, but I sure hope not. America, you’ve introduced some really fun ideas, but you need to slow down a bit if you want them to be satisfying ones, too.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?