Back Issues: America Chavez Packs a Punch in the Marvel Universe

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness heads into theaters this weekend, bringing a whole new realm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe along with it. One of the many buzzed-about elements of the film has been the introduction of America Chavez, who will be portrayed in her live-action debut by Xochitl Gomez. While America might not be a character who fans immediately associate with the realm of Doctor Strange, her multiversal history in the pages of Marvel Comics could prove to be incredibly significant within the film — and within the MCU itself.

In the grand scheme of things, America is still a relatively new character within Marvel canon, with her first appearance only dating back to September 2011. Created by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta, America first debuted in the Vengeance miniseries, which saw her using her powers of super strength, super speed, and flight as a member (and eventual co-leader) of a new incarnation of the Teen Brigade. The series also gave her the familiar codename of Miss America, which had previously been held by Madeline Joyce, an heiress in the Golden Age of Comics with similar powers. After departing the Teen Brigade due to "musical differences", America started using her first name as a code name and stumbled into the path of the Young Avengers in their fight against Mother.

America would then become a fixture of Kieron Gillen and Jaime McKelvie's Young Avengers run, which also shed some light on her unique (and complicated) backstory towards the end of the series. Originally, America believes that she originated from the Utopian Parallel, a dimension that exists outside of the multiverse and is ruled by an ancient being known as the Demiurge. America was raised there by her mothers, Amalia and Elena Chavez, until they sacrificed themselves and had their essences literally scattered across the multiverse. This inspired America, who believed that she got her superpowers from existing under the Demiurge, to run away from home and travel across the multiverse. In addition to exploring her origin, Young Avengers was significant for confirming that America is a lesbian, which factored into her dating an EMT named Lisa. Around this time, it was also established that America could literally punch and stomp star-shaped portals throughout time and space.

Following Young Avengers, America operated as a member of A-Force, an all-female team that operated out of the island utopia of Arcadia, a part of Battleworld that rose up following the destruction of the multiverse. After getting arrested for throwing a shark and potentially endangering the civilians of Battleworld, America was imprisoned at The Shield, a giant wall that protected parts of Battleworld from each other. While there, America developed a crush on an alternate version of Kate Bishop, and the pair of them escaped on a journey across the multiverse together. Around the same time, a 2016 issue of All-New Hawkeye teed up a potential future destiny for America — particularly, that she is destined to operate as the new Captain America.

Post-Secret Wars, America served as a member of the Ultimates, and continued to operate as a friend for heroes like Kate Bishop and Patsy Walker. She also got her first solo series, simply titled America, in 2017, making her the first LGBTQ+ Latin-American character to get an ongoing book. Written by Gabby Rivera with art from a rotating array of artists, the series saw America balance her life as a superhero with her time as a college student at Sotomayor University. The series ran for a total of twelve issues, and not only established a supporting cast around America, but saw her crossing paths again with some of her former team-ups.

America then joined the newest incarnation of the West Coast Avengers, which saw her moving to Los Angeles to fight crime and be part of a reality television show. While operating as a member of that team, America began dating Ramone Watts, the sister of fellow team member Johnny Watts / Fuse. After the cancellation of West Coast Avengers, America sporadically appeared in various titles, but flourished in the Marvel Rising animated series, where she was voiced by actress Cierra Ramirez. Concurrently, Casey attempted to reclaim his original "definite version" for her character with All-America Comix #1, a long-gestating Image Comics one-shot that presented a thinly-veiled imagining of where America's origin story could have gone under his direction.

The nature of America's origin story also recently became the focus of America Chavez: Made in the USA, a five-issue miniseries from writer Kalinda Vazquez and artist Carlos Gomez. The 2021 miniseries introduced that America had a previously unseen sister named Catalina, who helped America discover the actual root of her powers, and that she had made up the Utopian Parallel backstory as a coping mechanism from what really happened. As it turned out, America and Catalina were taken by Amalia and Elena to a private island named the "Utopian Parallel", in hopes of curing both girls of a rare disease known as Edges Syndrome. The cure Amalia and Elena developed led to America developing her powers, which were in danger of being exploited by Mr. Gales, the billionaire who owned the island. In an attempt to escape, Amalia and Elena were shot and killed, and Catalina was ripped away from America and presumed dead for several years. America then suffered amnesia from the shock of the experience and was taken in by a new family known as the Santanas.

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While there's no telling exactly how prominently America will feature into Multiverse of Madness, it will be interesting to see what elements of her previously established comic history make their way onto the big screen. The dangerous nature of the multiverse could lead to us seeing elements such as the Utopian Parallel, and there's no shortage of rumors and theories surrounding the Young Avengers potentially forming in the MCU.

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