AMERICA #2 | Writer: Gabby Rivera | Penciler: Joe Quinones | Colorist: Jose Villarrubia | Letterer: Travis Lanham | Release Date: April 5, 2017 | Price: $3.99
Last month America #1 hit the stands. It was definitely the most anticipated new Marvel book for me and I was beyond excited to pick it up. The issue read generally well if not a little choppy, though at the end we got some really strange spontaneity that didn't pace well, resulting in America punching Hitler. It was badly executed but forgivable for the obvious attempt to make that reference (to Captain America #1 in 1939). This month I cautiously turned to the first page of America #2 with bated breath. I was right to be apprehensive. This issue is immensely disappointing and it doesn't bode well for the future of this run.
The first mistake was leaving America in the past for so long. The Hitler punch while forced, was fun, but that's all it was, and should have been. Instead, we got a prolonged venture of America making sassy (and hardly funny) jokes with Peggy Carter and Agent Goodhair (which I'm sure was another exaggerated joke). This lasts for 6 pages before she returns to the regular world, and what's more? It's almost impossible to grasp what's happening. There isn't really a story there, or if there is, it's so veiled by vague references to "a plan" and excessive play on America's comedic charisma that we don't see it.
America #2 is full of random, choppy scenes that aren't really driving the story forward. The basic storytelling elements aren't really there, and we don't have the time to dive into her inner thoughts. The pacing on a per page basis is so erratic that it feels like it was paper mache'd together. The best three pages were with Lunella (Moon Girl) teaching the college students, only because that concept was cool, but even her character's voice seemed lacking. And the scene still didn't do much of anything but put America and X'andria together on a class assignment.
The little conflict there is, is badly placed and doesn't give us a sense of raised stakes, which also leaves us not really caring. She and the Leelumutlipass sorority fight random cyborgs, but at the end of the day, it's Lunella, not America, that defeats them. And still yet again, there is another seemingly random conflict involving girls that seem to look up to America as idols. While I can admire purposefully ironic jokes, and funny, even silly threats, a story still has to hold an ounce or two of cohesion and America #2 has none of that. I have absolutely no idea what actually happened or where the story is planning to go. I can guess that there's "a plan" in place, based on Professor Douglas and the mysterious woman's one page conversation, but that's been established so vaguely it's difficult for that to warrant a desire to read on.
Atop of all that, America's character seems forced. In America #1 it didn't feel that way, but now, there are far too many obvious "tries" for the writer to say "This is what America is like!" and it doesn't feel natural. In The Ultimates it does, but here it's worthy of eye-rolling. The jokes are too plentiful and stale the sass is fine, but so heavy it feels fictitious, and the dialogue looks like it came straight from a person searching urban dictionary. Maybe it's meant to be that ironic, but it comes off less appealing in text, to me.
I do appreciate the inspirational quotes throughout, especially those that lead the book out. I also enjoy the eccentricity of characters like X'andria and the Leelumultipass Phi Theta Betas, but these elements, while fun, don't create a coherent story. That's what we are lacking here. We have no idea where we are going with this, and while Gabby might, we she doesn't elude to it very well, or in an engaging way.
Okay, now let me talk about something less negative. This cover is to friggin' die for, which makes it all the more frustrating that the issue is so lacking. I'm already putting it in my number 1 for the year slot. If there is one thing they do get down for America, it's her fashion. All through her book she has a very distinct style, fitting her personality, and on this cover she'd put Beyonce to shame if she were standing next to her. The art in this issue fits the character very well, from color scheme to facial expression. It's all America. Sadly, as great as this is, it does not speak to what's inside the issue.
When I saw America was getting her own book, I was ecstatic. She's the coolest woman in current running books, a woman of color, and queer, written by a team representative of her ethnic background. That's amazing. It really is. Unfortunately, if you don't just put someone on a book because of their heritage You also have to make sure they are good writers and they have a good direction to take the book in. I'm not labeling Gabby Rivera a horrible writer, but I am saying that what she's doing with America's story is not working. Something drastic has to happen or this book will fail. I'm highly disappointed in this writing, and also the editors that let this go. Certainly someone had to notice that this was going to work?
In any case, I will support this for one more issue and pray that something changes. If not, I refuse to continue to perpetuate bad stories written about great characters. I unfortunately give this issue a 2 out of 5.