Why America Chavez’s Solo Comic Is A Victory For Queer Nerds Of Color

“America” issue 1 cover variant by Jamie McKelvie. (Marvel)

Latonya Pennington

(originally posted on Black Girl Nerds)

When the solo comic for Miss America Chavez was first announced back in October, my excitement took time to boil. While I was happy that a queer woman of color superhero was getting her own comic, part of me expected to have her written by a team of white cis males. After all, Marvel only recently hired a queer Black woman to write a comic with queer Black women.

Yet to my pleasant surprise, Gabby Rivera, a queer Latina writer, has been hired to write a solo comic with a queer Latina! This is monumental for queer nerds of color like me, because we are finally getting representation in the best way possible.

For those who aren’t familiar with Miss America Chavez, she is a brown-skinned lesbian Latina who has the power to literally kick open doors between dimensions and also super strength, flight, and speed. If you want a good sense of her character, then read all of Kieron Gillen and Jamie Mckelvie’s Young Avengers books. These books show America Chavez as an actual character who kicks butt by punching people (& Kid Loki), flirts with Kate “Hawkeye” Bishop, and strives to be a hero by doing the right thing. Not to mention, she has a great backstory that appears near the end of the final Young Avengers book.

Having a queer superhero of color get a solo comic is a major deal, because queer superheroes of color rarely get the attention they deserve. Other than World of Wakanda, there aren’t any mainstream comic books that focus solely on queer people of color. As Cameron Glover wrote for The Mary Sue, America Chavez’s solo comic is the result of the power of her fans. If comic companies like Marvel and DC are truly committed to being inclusive, they should keep listening to queer nerds of color and promote queer superheroes of color better.

Queer nerds of color should not have to sift through comics with white LGBTQ people just to find one or two queer people of color. Yet it isn’t too surprising how prevalent this america001variantcvr-jamie-mckelvieis when you consider that mainstream media focuses more on white LGBTQ people than LGBTQ people of color. While Marvel is moving in the right direction by giving America Chavez a solo and hiring a queer Latina writer, there is much more they can do.

While Gabby Rivera seems to be a talented writer, it is a little disconcerting to see that she was hired after the success of her queer YA novel Juliet Takes A Breath. If Gabby Rivera had been a lesser known author, she would’ve had a harder time being hired. There is literally an entire database of talented queer people of color who write and draw comics independently. They shouldn’t have to have a major success story before they are worthy of being hired.

Besides paying more attention to independent comic creators, Marvel, DC, and news outlets should promote queer superheroes of color as much as their white counterparts. In fact, queer superheroes of color should have their own spotlight sometimes. After the Pulse nightclub shooting occurred, the millennial news site Blavity did a feature that was entirely dedicated to queer superheroes of color from Marvel and DC. If more news sites did pieces like this, then queer superheroes of color would reach a bigger audience.

Not only do queer superheroes of color need more news coverage, but they also need to be on-screen more. Right now, the only queer superhero of color is Mr. Terrific on Arrow. With the new America Chavez comic in the works, it would be a good time to give the Young Avengers their own Netflix series so we can get a live-action America Chavez. A similar idea would be to have Black Lightning’s daughter Thunder and her relationship with Grace Choi be in the upcoming Black Lightning show.

For so long, queer nerds of color were invisible in mainstream media. With the new America Chavez solo comic, we have a queer Latina superhero being written by a queer Latina superhero. While queer nerds of color still have a ways to go in terms of representation on the page and on the screen, America has kicked her own hole into the comics universe and given us a victory worth celebrating.