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 America #6 Review, AMSTERDAM
Gordy
 Posted: Aug 30 2017, 04:18 PM
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Oh heck, I can't leave all my (two) fans on a cliffhanger.

Remember when I called this series a sinking ship that was struck by lighting and set on fire, and the ship’s radio was damaged beyond repair, doom everyone on the ship to a painful death, while on board has given up, and decided to hang out and talk about dating? It's still just that. Nothing's improved, and they're all getting closer to their inevitable death.

Previous Issues: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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Gordy
 Posted: Aug 31 2017, 12:53 PM
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The Story

Last time: America and guest star Kate Bishop team up to investigate the light monster. But when America's crush, Magdalena calls for help, the two of them rush to her aid. But this turns out to be a set-up, and Magdalena betrays and drugs America.

America wakes up somewhere in Las Vegas, Nevada. Presumably, this takes place before the events of Marvel's Secret Empire event where, spoiler alert, Las Vegas has been completely destroyed. America was one of the books that didn't get affected by Secret Empire, thereby avoiding having its own story overtaken and dragged down by events. (Looking at you, Ms. Marvel.)

America finds herself in a boxing ring, in front of a cheering crowd and the Mindless Ones. To her surprise, Arcade is acting as an MC for what he states is a death match, and America's about to face off against Magdalena in a match. Interestingly, Arcade introduces America as America "Give Her Some of this Brown Fist" Chavez.

Now, America has no idea what's going on. When she questions Magdalena, the match starts, and Magdalena punches her in the face.

We flashback to to hours ago, in the California desert. After America had been drugged and knocked out by Magdalena, a helicopter comes to take the two away. Try as she might, Kate Bishop fails to run up and catch them. Why she didn't just drive over to the scene or try to use the bow to shoot down the helicopter or something, I don't know.

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But she does take time to compliment America.

Also, the Jenny Rose heart sign is collapsing in the background. No reason is given as to why this happens. If the helicopter or Kate's car hit it, we don't see it, and neither vehicle shows any damage for it.

Kate's not going to let this go. She finally gets back in her car and drives off, giving chase to the chopper. But to her surprise, a star portal opens up by her font seat. Now sitting next to her is Madrimar, that old wrestler lady who mysteriously guides America, despite the act that America is nothing but rude and obnoxious to her.

Kate stops, gives some awkwardly-written dialogue as an attempt at a joke. In a legitimately funny scene (as in, funny on purpose), she lets go of the wheel in shock, and Madrimar has to grab the wheel.

So, why has Madrimar showed up? She says that she lost all sense of America, and they must act quickly to save her. It seems odd that she would lose sense of America, but they never explained why or how Madrimar's powers work, so we don't know her limitations. But we do know that she can use portals, and didn't just transport herself into the helicopter and stage a rescue. It's also been heavily implied that she can time travel, so she could have also shown up much earlier.

Madrimar explains to Kate that she's had her eyes on Midas for decades. But she also states that Magdalena is not the villain she appears to be, and has her own troubles with Midas. Again, Madrimar apparently knew about all this and has the power to help people, but chose to only use her amazing powers in limited ways to get involved when America's in trouble.

Cut back to America, present time. She tells Magdalena that she could just portal them out of the situation and be free. But Arcade shows everyone that he's taken Magdalena's dad hostage, and is using him to coerce Magdalena to do his bidding. If she wins, she and her father get to walk away. And if Magdalena loses, she dies. It is a match to the death, after all.

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Magdalena explains that she knows she can't win against America, but they need to play by the rules, because they can't escape these bad guys if they turn on them. She fully expects her own death, and wants America to kill her and keep her father safe. America considers just dropping the match and rescuing him, but neither her, nor Magdalena know where he's being kept.

Note that America can transport herself to people, even if she doesn't know where they are. This was actually a plot point in the third issue.

Unfortunately, America and Magdalena have been talking too much, and aren't focusing on the fight. The Mindless Ones (including one that can speak and issue commands, despite having no mouth and being a monster with little intelligence) decide to head into the ring and turn this boring fight into an exciting brawl. Arcade says that he'd kill both of the girls, but he's under "her" orders not to. The lead Mindless One (who wears a snazzy suit!) tells Arcade to watch his mouth, because he's in this mysterious woman's debt.

Meanwhile, Kate and Madrimar found Magdalena's dad somehow. How they find him isn't explained, but I have a few theories as to how:

1) Madrimar already knew where the man was being held hostage, and only chose to do something now just because.

2) Madrimar knew where the man was and used her sensory powers to find him, which implies that she already knew about his struggles and chose not to help him until now.

3) The man was just really easy to find, and Magdalena was just too stupid to notice. Makes sense, since he's being held in some random hallway.

Either way, unless Madrimar knew about the kidnapping beforehand, they wouldn't know about the man being held captive, and that he was Magdalena's father.

We also don't know where they are. Are they in the stadium? Because that would be too obvious and convenient. That would be the first place anyone would look for him.

Anyway, Kate is jumping while shooting, for some reason. She also says "Nobody puts Chavez in a corner," because making a reference to an '80's movie was the closest thing to a cool one-liner she could think of, I guess.

Back at the ring, America's on the ropes. The Mindless One are kicking her ass, and Madgalena's about to deliver what Arcade describes as a "kill blow." (I assume that he means a "killing blow.") But before Magdalena can kill America and end this comic, a star portal opens up above them. Madrimar, Kate and Magdalena's father fall into the ring.

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A Mindless One apaprently reels back from being punched, even though no one punched it and Madrimar appears to be doing a belly-flop. Also, it's either producing spit in spite of not having a mouth, or Madrimar's vagina is leaking.


Instead of America, Madrimar and Kate teaming up to fight the Mindless Ones, America just makes Kate take Magdalena and her father to safety.

Arcade encourages the villains in the audience to join in on the fight. This includes Black Cat, who likely wouldn't even like this weird game, much less even be at the arena. But the lead Mindless One reminds them not to kill her, because the Midas Corporation needs America alive.

But if you wanted her alive, why risk putting her in a Death Match in the first place? To make her suffer by killing her friend/crush? They didn't have a problem with beating her up and letting her be killed by Magdalena's "kill blow."

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America and Madrimar are set to team up against the enemies. But America once again reminds the old bag that she still doesn't like her. She's glad that Madrimar had Kate's back, but she doesn't want her to interfere with her life any further. At least she dropped the part about her hating Madrimar for being mysterious.

Despite saying that she was glad Madrimar was there, and the act that Madrimar saved Mag's dad when she herself couldn't, America insists that she doesn't need her, or anyone. But Madrimar counters that they're connected. When America asks why she doesn't feel this connection, Madrimar simply states that America was never "taught how to find us."

America actually wonders why Madrimar said "us." But before we get answers, Arcade himself shows up ina strange flying machine, ready to join in on the brawl.

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And then America and Madrimar punch the machine, instantly destroying it and sending Arcade flying.

America bitches at Madrimar some more, but Madrimar shuts her up by revealing her great secret: she's actually America's grandmother!

Because I am an idiot, this was actually a twist. All this time, I thought Madrimar was America's future self, just traveling through time and bragging to others about how amazing she is. This doesn't explain why Madrimar speaks Spanish, but since America's parents also did, it doesn't matter. Nothing matters.

Also, while this is going on, the Mindless Ones are fighting each other for some reason. Arcade's also shown to be in his machine, despite it being completely destroyed in the previous page.

America and Madrimar combine forces to perform a move called the Power Stomp, which destroys the ring and sends their enemies flying. This is performed by "listen[ing] to the multiverse" and channeling energy and blah blah blah. America has to use what she learned from Storm and Peggy Carter, basically.

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With the immediate threat over, America seamlessly steers their conversation back to her relationship with her grandmother. Madrimar explains that Amalia was her daughter.
America breaks down. Her parents never told her that she had a grandma, but then again, she was too young to remember what they were even like. America hopes that this isn't a trick, because she doesn't want to be hurt again. But finally, she's no longer alone in the world.

America wonders why Madrimar took so long to contact her, and why she was so mysterious and obtuse about it. Madrimar says that there's much to explain, and that America should come with her to the Ancestral Plane.

Outside, Kate and Magdalena are talking about Magdalena's feelings for America, and what her plan today was. Kate tells Magdalena that she's welcome to come to her detective agency should she need anything. Also, Kate references Thelma and Louise at one point.

America and her grandmother show up. Madrimar opens a portal so Magdalena and her father can return home. Considering they're now enemies of a powerful and villainous organization, letting them just go home seems unwise.

Magdalena apologizes to America for her mistakes. The two part way on a positive note, with America forgiving her and saying that she would like to hang out with her again. Things aren't perfectly fine between them, and they're not dating. But their relationship is improving, and who knows what the future will bring for them?

Hopefully not romance, honestly. There's something sketchy about Gabby Rivera breaking America up with her white girlfriend, only to immediately pair her up with an Afro-Latin woman.

Mags and her dad leave, and Kate goes on her way. America will accompany Madrimar to the Ancestral Plane, on the condition that she goes back to school after spring break, and that Madrimar doesn't just interrupt her work and life. From now on, they navigate this together.

By the way, this journey takes place over spring break. Apparently, there was a huge gap of time between issues four and five, which they didn't convey very well. Also, it means that we saw America do no schoolwork at all.

Meanwhile, at Satomayor University, a "trust-fund terrorist and leather aficionado' named Oubliette Midas (A.K.A Exterminatrix) talks to someone on her phone. She then pulls the phone away from her face and continues talking, and the person on the other one can still understand her perfectly.

The story ends with Exterminatrix waiting for America. A narration box assures us that we'll find out next time, an also throws in the obligatory mi gente.

The highlight of this issue comes from the Americartas, where a troll's letter had been printed. Amongst a sea of praise, this /co/-originated letter offers a hilariously scathing review of the series, under the guise of praise. They even go so far as to compare the comic to The Room Hilariously, Rivera doesn't catch the sarcasm, and sees the letter at face value. She gives the person a caring, if oblivious response.

Gabby Rivera is a national treasure, in all honesty.
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Gordy
 Posted: Sep 1 2017, 10:14 AM
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A Look at America Chavez

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As you might remember, many of America's issues stem from the fact that her mothers died, leaving her alone and to fend for herself. She found comfort and identity through the strangers she met, but she still had many issues with trusting people, and would often push people away to keep herself from getting hurt.

This issue saw America find her grandmother. Finding that family she has craved is something big for her. She's still not ready to open up and accept it, but it clearly means a lot to her. Moving forward, this family could help America overcome some of the emotional barriers she has put up around herself.

I don't think America will change, though. She's always a bitch in this series. Sure, she's less of a bitch in this issue. But if I learned anything from previous issues, it's that, in the end, she'll always care about one thing and one thing only: herself.

America is an awful person. And unless Gabby Rivera realizes that she created a monster out of this character, she's not going to get better.
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Gordy
 Posted: Sep 1 2017, 11:35 AM
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The Art

One thing I haven't really gone into, is how comic books often have multiple artists working on a single issue. You can have one person doing the penciling, and another doing the inking. Throw in colorists, and you have a lot of people working on something. And who's to say you can't have two inkers involved, like this very issue? You can make art done by one person look drastically different if any of these people choose to do so.

My point is, art is harder than you think. So when I talk out of my ass talk about the looks of a book, I try to collectively refer to everything as "the art" for the sake of simplicity.

First, let's start with the cover. It's a reference to this cover But it does have a few issues: most of the characters seem to be staring at America's vagina. Teen Cyclops seems to be resting his shoulder on Loki, for some reason? And Nova isn't even paying attention to Kate or America, he's just staring at something else entirely.
But you can't always judge a book by its cover. Instead, let's look at the art or the story held within.

The change in style was a bold move, but it really payed off last chapter. Despite plenty of awkward faces and issues with being off-model, it was more stylized and unique than the last look.

This issue, it all falls apart.

In this comics, characters have unique physiques. This helps to differentiate them, and can tell you a lot about how the character acts or behaves. For example, Kate is thinner than America, who is all about close-combat fighting. Madrimar, being a wrestler-themed character with decades of fighting experience, is much more muscular than either of them.

But then you have some awkward moments. Either brought on by the penciler's own volition, an attempt at showing the character in a new light, or the character accidentally drawn off-model. But whatever the case, having character's body drastically change is very jarring.

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Here is how Kate normally looks in the book. Notice how svelt she is in comparison to Madrimar on the right.

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Here she is in another panel. It was an attempt to provide us with a look that close-up shot of her, but it now looks like Kate gained a ton of body weight. She's not as bulky as Madrimar, but she's close. It's harder to tell here, since I used a scaled-down image of a scan. But it's very noticable when you read the comic book or check out online scans.

Also, her hip windows are still there; her skin was just miscolored to match the pants, so it's hard to tell.

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This next one is less about awkward shifts, and more about awkward positioning. This panel, as well as the previous issue, establish that Magdalena has a similar build to America. She has muscle tone than America, but she still has a clearly feminine appearance. Good so far.

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Close-ups later on show that she still has obvious muscles, but still retains her femininity. She has more mass and muscle than America usually does, but the difference between them isn't overwhelming. We're still good.

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She's thiccer than Kate, though doesn't have her wide hips and hourglass shape. We're still good, aside from the fact that Magdalena's leaning makes her look like she has really weird proportions.

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And then we get to this unflattering shot. Magdalena has manlier proportions, and is more androgynous overall. Also, America was not adjusted to match this change in perspective, so it just looks like Madgalena bulked up and changed her sex.

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This next shot furthers my point, but it also provides a segue into another issue I have with this book: actions have no weight to them. You can tell that she punched America because America is reeling back. You can tell it's painful because of how she's reeling back. We can see how the punch was carried out via the positioning of her arms.

But there's no energy or weight to the panel. Take away the drops of blood, maybe add a disco ball, and it would easily look like they're just dancing or something.


Now compare it to this shot of Spider-Man fighting Spot. Not the positioning, but how Spider-Man's punch affects him. Look at how Spider-Man's fist creates an impact, and how sound effects and lines are used. They make it clear what the punch is like and how painful it is, even though Spider-Man's not making any exaggerated movements to show it.


You don't need to show the fist connecting to the face to show the weight of the action, though it helps. Here, Captain America's positioning, and the effects around him and his opponent make it clear that the punch had a lot of power behind it.

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Please note Magdalena's tiny, tiny right wrist.

This shot is even worse than the first one, because you can't really tell how the impact affected America. Magdalena's arm positioning suggested she punched down. But the sound effect is near America's head, and to me, it looks like Mags could have punched straight-head and knocked America down.

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Also note that America now missing her left ear, and has a giant right ear.

So did Magdalena punch straight ahead? Did she swing down? How close is she to America? I'm guessing the punch missed, because America doesn't reel or show signs of being hit, but then why would there be blood in the air?

(If I can give one point of praise, I love how the blood is used to create a sound effect. It lends itself well to the art style, and looks much better on the art than the type-written effects.)

I know it's a small nitpick on my part, but it makes for some disappointing fight scenes. And since fighting is a big part of this issue, it really brings it down for me. But in all fairness, fighting choreography is extremely complex. I'm a big fan of action, but I'm still an amateur at understanding all the intricacies involved in the conception and design of a fight scene.

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We do see a bit of decent fighting from Madrimar, however brief it is. Madrimar is a wrestler, and the grappling is handled a little better than the boxing. You can tell what she's doing during fights.

(Also, the Mindless Ones legitimately have fantastic asses this issue. Easily some of the best butt work I've seen from comics in years.)

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And then you have the now-standard awkward faces.

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Gordy
 Posted: Sep 1 2017, 02:25 PM
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On Gabby Rivera

We're six issues in, and have completed two arcs. I feel that we have enough information to gauge Gabby's writing abilities.

Gabby Rivera's entire image is built on her being Puerto Rican and queer. But she's built up quite a reputation for not knowing Spanish very well, leading to many, many mistakes whenever she has characters speak Spanish.

Portuguese and Spanish are very similar, but since I never bothered to learn my native tongue, I can only understand the gist of what she's writing about. But while I can't confirm these cases for myself, nearly every issue of America has been met with derision by more fluent Spanish/Portuguese/whatever speakers.
This issue was no exception.

But that's only one aspect of this comic series. Just because her use of a foreign language is faulty doesn't necessarily mean that the rest of her writing is faulty. But if you read any of my reviews, have ever talked to me, or seen my drunken, violent Twitter rants, you're probably aware that I find the series' story and characters to be nothing short of a hate crime against common sense and decency.

But her writing does have some good qualities to it. As I've said before, a surprising amount of work has been put into shaping America Chavez. America is a horrible person, but she's one with realistic flaws that hold her back. Her struggles with loneliness and identity have caused her to lose people who are precious to her. Even though the execution of this character is often inept, she has genuine, realistic struggles that allow you to empathize with someone as horrible and obnoxious as America.

I feel that this comes from a personal place from Gabby. She writes and speaks with sincerity, and doesn't shy away from making her feelings (however controversial) known, either through her book, or through questionable posts on Twitter. And she has a spirited, heartfelt way of doing so.

I don't know how much of America's development and humanity comes from her, or Marvel just telling her to write these. But I've read the summaries and blurbs for Gabby's award-winning novel, Juliet Takes a Breath. It deals with themes of family issues, self-discovery, and what it means to be a lesbian of color. This makes me think that Gabby Rivera drew from her own experiences in writing her novel and used it to develop America to her liking.

Marvel could have also sought her out because they had a similar idea in mind, and those genuinely good qualities about the character might be because of guidelines and ideas they gave to Rivera, based on America's previous characterization and history. But since there's been no word as to how much of America's current character was shaped by either party, there's no way of knowing. However, considering Gabby is allowed to write this wicked tome, and that troll letter was able to make it through without problem, I've come to think that gabby has little to no intervention from editors.

So we come to the question, is Gabby Rivera a good writer? She's given the character quite a bit of depth, has written a novel, and has won a prestigious award for her efforts. On the other hand, she's responsible for America. Her award might not mean much when critics have mindlessly praised her work no matter how vile it is, and her book's sales haven't exactly been stellar.

So to answer the question, I'll quote the 2016 animated musical movie, Sing In the movie, theater owner Buster Moon says that a character's performance is "horrible, but shows promise." And I feel that describes Rivera very well: she's created a monstrosity in comic book form, but she definitely has the heart, sincerity and creativity to make a great story. I feel that, with a little guidance and tempering, we could see some content from her. People just need to point out where she's going wrong, encourage her strong points, and steer her in the right direction.

Gabby, if this somehow reaches you, know that I'm rooting for you. I'll let you have it when you do bad, but I also want to see you rise to the top. I believe in you.
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Gordy
 Posted: Sep 1 2017, 02:29 PM
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In Conclusion

I'm literally intrigued and in awe of this book. If this is what it's like to read about lesbians, then I applaud all the writers right now because this is incredible. Plot holes? Check. Poor Spanish? Yup. And now, brown lesbians being bitchy to innocent people. I swear, if Gabby Rivera continues to get work, I'm going to be so jealous. *sigh* Always the shitty comic reviewer, never the shitty comic writer.
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