There’s a concept in philosophy of selfhood, of identity in the sense of “the thing that makes you separate from other people”. We believe that each of us is a separate entity, generally. Each of us has a self. We ascribe characteristics to it, and we consider our “self” to remain constant from one day to the next, even though we may act very differently.
Why America Chavez? My feelings on this are kind of “If you have to ask this question then you’re never going to know”, but I’ll try. America Chavez is perfect. She has shady origins, a foul mouth and a great sense of style. She breaks the mold of female characters by taking on a role in the group that’s typically male - the bruiser, the “punch everything” kind of guy. She’s fun and she’s colorful and she’s serious and she’s easy to relate to despite the fact she’s an inter-dimensional traveler. There is nothing that is not great about Miss America.
Why A-Force is the perfect next step for America Chavez
Of course, I was immediately delighted to learn the news about America’s likely involvement in the new all female avenger team to come out from Secret Wars: A-Force. Upon further thought, though, I am more and more excited to see how this new thing will work out for her.
Why? You might ask. (other than my obvious excitement for more America Chavez, of course)
Because it perfectly fits the bigger character arc she’s been on since the moment she was introduce to comics.
(This might get long, so more bellow the cut)
1. “I wanted to be like moms and Billy and everyone else who ever inspired me.”
America Chavez arrived to the Multiverse with a big, huge, concept about heroes. She was six years old, a huge fangirl, and she had just given up everything she had ever known in order to become like her heroes.
It’s safe to say, she was setting herself to some mayor disappointments.
And, yes, there’s the whole, “and he’s an idiot, like the rest of us,” but chronologically remember that’s way down the line. No, I think America Chavez’s first big disappointment was something else…
2. “You couldn’t pay me to be an Avenger.”
Where did this come from? Very simple. From the little girl ten years before that. Her prior naivety and the conditions she arrived to the Multiverse in —orphan, homeless, penniless— have obviously shaken her world views quite a bit, especially considering she comes from an Utopia.
Still, it is her belief in heroes what has obviously shifted the most. It’s not to blame the Avengers for all of it, because the standards she was holding heroes to were unachievable, even to Billy and probably her mothers. Yet, let’s consider those illusions measured against heroes that had become an organization, an spectacle, a brand. Let’s imagine her disappointment when she discovered they spent almost as much time fighting each other as they did fighting bad guys.
America Chavez’s resolution to never join the Avengers —I would theorize— comes from her belief that they are not real heroes. Not like she considered her mothers to be.
Form this standing point, her joining the Teen Brigade, a team that works “behind the scenes,” in the shadows, never taking credit for their heroics, is an act of teenage rebellion against a canon she’s disillusioned with. The Teen Brigade are nowhere closer to being the ideal heroes either, but maybe simply by countering the Avengers or by doing good for the sake of good without any recognition, it was a way for her to continue to explore being a hero in her own way.
3. “That’s why you’re here?! To rescue me?! Get a life, puta!”
Now, I’m gonna be honest, I cringe every single time I read this phrase. Puta is a very strong word in Spanish, the equivalent of calling someone a whore. It has always felt ooc for America to react like this to receiving help, and it might be due to a poor use of Spanish expressions from the writers… but within context, this is yet another part of America’s rebellious phase.
America has been struggling to build a self-image for years now. She has been fighting with all she has to be hero in her own right, to separate herself form the Avengers and all the other heroes she considers corrupt or plainly insufficient. Yes, this is definitively a very arrogant point of view, but not an unusual one for a fifteen year old. (I mean, my sister’s that age and, even without superpowers she’s hard to handle 90% of the time).
To America, then, being ‘rescued’ by an Avenger is nearly the equivalent to a backhanded slap at this point of her life. It’s telling her you aren’t enough. It’s telling her she even needs help from the same people she considers to be all wrong. So she lashes out.
((Side note: And I am really interested to see how/if this is played off, considering Jen’s apparently gonna have a pretty big part in this new team.))
4. “Musical differences.”/ “So now we have to stick together?”
Now, this two moments —from the .1 and Young Avengers Vol.2 #5— fall basically into the same category: America’s reluctance to join a new team. Why? Obviously, things didn’t work out with the Teen Brigade. It was a matter of time before their methods crashed too much against America’s morals.
And yet, she’s not ready to go to the opposite side of the balance and jump right into a team that calls themselves Young Avengers. I can imagine those two words making her roll her eyes and grunt. Yet, she stays, because it’s the right thing to do… and maybe because Billy and facing her mothers’s ghosts awakens something in her: the possibility that her heroes are not who she imagined. That’s an arc that’s very clear throughout the whole Vol. 2 book.
Still, a more quiet and barely acknowledged arc, is seemingly more simple: America’s inclusion to the team. She starts with a couple sarcastic comments. Then, she clearly grows fond of them, even of Loki. At the end, one of America’s biggest traits comes into play: her undying loyalty, a trait that so far had been displayed towards “what’s best for everyone”, and at this moment, the greater good becomes second to protecting her friends. Ergo, her forgiving Loki’s life after his revelation.
5. “Or have the Avengers kick your face off.”
Now, this was obviously a big moment in this number, and it was a great way to close the whole Mother arc but for America too, personally, it was a huge moment.
She is identifying herself as an Avenger, and she’s clearly doing so proudly.
Note: not a Young Avenger, because I truly believe if America wants to take on that title she’s going to do it fully, as a completely fulfilled hero.
Why does she choose this particular moment to change her heart about the Avengers? Because America has been humbled during her time with the Young Avengers. Maybe not in a way that is obvious in Vol. 2 alone, but in the bigger picture, it’s very clear she has matured a lot. It’s a mix of everything: facing her mothers, facing Billy isn’t the man she thought (yet), and growing to love this group of misfits who do their best to be heroes only because it’s the right thing, and because, like she did so long ago, they hold close to their hearts the ideals of the people they idolize.
America, at this point, has learnt to a fuller extent what it means to be a true hero: with it’s ups and downs instead of the perfect standard she was holding everyone —especially herself— to.
So, this brings us to A-Force. Now that America is on board with the whole (Young) Avengers thing, if obviously doesn’t mean she’s gonna start reporting to Cap or Iron Man for duty out of the sudden. Old habits die hard. Is she was going to join any versions of the team, it would have to be one that inspired her trust, at first. One that she was confident could accomplish this things while aligning to her moral and slightly idealistic beliefs. I think, a newly assembled all-female team is exactly what she needs. America’s mothers have been big role models for her to shape herself after, but she needs new people to look up to. Her immediate infatuation with Kate could even be seen as proof of her need for more strong women to admire and respect in her life.
So, as much as I would LOVE an America Chavez solo book, it is not what she needs. It’s not what we need. At this point, America’s relationship with who she is and what she stands for is very solid. She has come a long way from the fangirl who ran away from her world.
America has finally let go of her past and her prejudices about heroes. Now, it’s time for her to look forward, to her future. Her next big steps is to figure where she fits into this new world and what part is she going to play, not as an outsider who just landed here but as a rightful part of the Multiverse.
For this new stage, I believe the A-Force is the best next step.