America’s Joy Defines America 11

by Spencer Irwin

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

America‘s often breathless pace works to its favor in issue 11, a transition issue that manages to serve as an epilogue to the previous storyline while also diving head-first into the next, mixing heartfelt character moments with genuine thrills and actions, with none feeling out of place or poorly paced. For the moment, America Chavez is in a good place, and her joy shines through in this issue loud and clear.

It’s a testament to Gabby Rivera’s skill as a writer that the first act of the issue — an epilogue to the Oubliette storyline that says goodbye to Sotomayor University and America’s supporting cast there (for now) — is as strong as it is. Given the relatively short amount of time we’ve spent at the location and with the students there, not all of the sentiment feels earned. Prodigy and X’Andria receive big resolutions that don’t feel like part of natural story arcs for them (both have always had conviction, if nothing else), and Prodigy’s message about surveillance is a powerful idea that, nonetheless, wasn’t a big part of the Oubliette story, and isn’t given the space here to fully unpack. Nonetheless, Rivera packs these scenes with so much rousing, heartfelt emotion that it can’t help but to feel like a big deal to say goodbye to Sotomayor. She sells these scenes almost through sheer force of will alone; we’re emotional because America herself is emotional, and that means something.

That kind of will and emotion is what makes the second act such a joy. Artists Stacey Lee and Flaviano and colorists Jordan Gibson and Chris O’Halloran do great work throughout the issue, creating dazzling settings and landscapes full of character, characters packed with clear emotion, and several cool-as-hell outfits for America, but it’s in this second act that they shine brightest, conveying the thrill and sheer joy America feels to be pushing the boundaries of her power with her grandmother, Madrimar.

Rivera, meanwhile, finds a sweet, natural, familial rapport between the two. I would have been more than happy if the entire issue was spent in this sweet spot, in the joy of family and the thrill of discovery, but Rivera and company quickly dive into their next story, pitting America against La Legion. La Legion are almost complete ciphers as villains at this point, and I wish I had more interest in Planet Fuertona, but the action itself is still enjoyable, and after that crackerjack second act, putting Madrimar in danger feels like an effective cliffhanger and motivation for America. We’ve seen how happy Madrimar makes America; of course we want to see her rescued, no matter how foolhardy it is for America to run off after her.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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