I touched on this with my America #7 review, and, even then, I saw this spinning off into a full article. So here we go.
To start, I just want to point out that America Chavez’s backstory is already very mythological in nature. It tells an ethereal tale of near-perfect worlds formed by goddesses in love. One world was destroyed by demonic forces, and America was born to lovers in a ball of pure energy.
In a way, America is already goddess-like. Couple this with her incredible powers, and she is already a goddess in the same way that Superman is a god.
However, I think Marvel needs to make it official.
America Chavez should be a goddess.
Her story, both her aforementioned origin and her time on Earth 616 (or whatever it’s called now) make her the perfect archetypal mythological figure for a new generation — namely, those blasted millennials like myself.
To start, America comes from a world lost to her. She is literally disconnected from her roots in a way that many younger people feel in the modern era. It’s not just about heritage or family history, which America didn’t know a lot about until America #7 regardless; it’s about how the world of today is incredibly different from that of our parents.
Technology, politics, globalization; these are all things that have advanced quickly in the past generation. That’s not a bad thing, but it has left us with a world that no one completely gets yet.
Not to mention, the economy has imploded thanks to titanic greed, so the general outlook on the future isn’t exactly great either for those of us who are just getting out into the job market.
In that same right, America has our world, which is far more violent and ugly than the Utopian Parallel in which her parents lived. And, despite her best efforts. America is still lost in our world, too.
Secondly, America Chavez is nomadic, which has become something of a millennial trait (kind of ironic since the other trait is being too poor to afford a house because of the job market and housing crash, so we have to live at home with our parents far longer than we intended. I’m not projecting, you’re projecting).
The idea of not being particularly attached to a location has become a bit of a millennial stereotype, and it’s often used as a cudgel whenever we don’t accept the traditions of where we come from. This is again reflected in America’s literal disconnect from her home in the Utopian Parallel.
Her personality traits are representative of the current generation, too. She’s brash, yet emotionally vulnerable at times. She means well, but sometimes are impulsiveness can cause problems. Her anger is not too far below the surface.
Here, I’m using a lot of character traits that are associated with characters aimed at my generation. I’m thinking of characters like Catniss from Hunger Games, Hermione from Harry Potter, and Rey from the Force Awakens. Every individual is different of course, and, if you were to ask certain more — right leaning people — they would likely say none of those more positive traits are present in my generations whatsoever across the board with the exception of conservative young people.
Lastly, and this is where we are going to get into those social justice issues that scare some people (see: Diversity & Comics), you wouldn’t see a Latina lesbian super hero even one generation back, let alone one that would have her own comic at one of the Big Two. The fact is, this kind of person wouldn’t have been represented in the ’80s, or even the ’90s. It just wouldn’t have happened. My generation is — generally — more accepting of different kinds of people.
And for more surface-level stuff, show me god characters in Marvel or DC who aren’t white, with the exception of Black Racer, the Ancient One (technically), and a couple of the Female Furies (if you’re being extremely generous). Storm is often called a goddess, but that’s always undercut by the fact that we know she’s a mutant, which is the reason for her powers.
If your answer to this is Darkseid, then I’m not even sure how to approach that.
You could argue some of the gods of Wakanda, and I wouldn’t really say you’re wrong, but those beings aren’t often personified and do not show up as often as the likes of Odin, Zeus, Ares, Thor, and Hercules of course, and Egyptian gods as villains.
Also, Gilgamesh was depicted as white, despite being a Sumerian character.
Anyway, that’s still a more superficial point, but it is good for illustrating some of my thoughts here.
America Chavez should be a goddess. Her origins are more applicable to the modern age in the way that Jack Kirby’s New Gods were a blend of 1960s sci-fi and Cold War-era culture. She’s disconnected from the old world, she’s brash, impulsive, and optimistic, and she is a type of character that we wouldn’t have seen in Marvel or DC more than a decade and a half ago.
One last point, and this is slightly related: she should be marketed a lot better. She’s not a completely unknown character, but she’s not nearly on the level of Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, many of the X-Men, or even Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales. She should be, though. She’s a kickass character. Writer Gabby Rivera has put a lot of work into making her a well-rounded and all-around lovable powerhouse.
How do you remedy this? I don’t know; I’m not a marketer. However, putting her in Contest of Champions, the Marvel Heroes game, or the Avengers Assemble cartoon would help. Or, dare I say it, she could be in one of those movies that rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.
I’ll be the first to tell you that this op-ed did stray a bit farther away from comic-centric topics then I intended. However, I feel I made my point here, and, if superhero comics were in no way comparable to the real world, they wouldn’t be as widely-loved as they are.
In any case, America Chavez should be more popular, and she deserves the status of goddess in Marvel Comics.
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