The Young Avengers are a team of adolescents who formed in the wake of the Avengers: Disassembled storyline in 2004. In terms of publication, there have been two complete volumes of stories, the first by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, the second by the infamous comics team of Gillen/McKelvie in 2013. They were initially assembled by Iron Lad who used a secret Avengers Fail-Safe Program to find them. The Fail-Safe Program was designed by the Vision, who was recently deceased in this storyline, to find and recruit the next generation of Avengers in case the worst ever happened – and the worst just had happened.
We are exploring the Young Avengers because, recently, Marvel has been introducing a lot of those characters in their Disney+ shows and films and it just feels like they are secretly building up that team.
Thus far, we’ve covered Patriot, Wiccan, Speed, Hulking, Kate Bishop, Stature, and Iron Lad. This week we will introduce you to one of the most recent additions to the team – America Chavez, a.k.a. Ms.America.
But first – a quick word on the Gillen/McKelvie run – Young Avengers vol.2 from 2013.
The first team of the Young Avengers was composed of the characters we’ve already covered and it was variations of this team that persisted until the 2013 run, written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie. At this time, Stature is deceased, Iron Lad is thrown to the winds of time, and Patriot has quit the superhero game. This leaves Kate Bishop – who has continued being a superhero because that’s just what she always does; Wiccan and Speed, both of whom know they are the reincarnated children of Scarlet Witch and Vision; and Hulkling, who now knows he is the out-of-wedlock lovechild of Kree champion Captain Mar’vell and Skrull Princess Anelle.
Added to the team in this volume are Noh-Varr, Kid Loki, and America Chavez.
Their adventures in this fifteen issue volume take them throughout the multiverse, trying to avoid a multiversal parasite known only as Mother who is after Wiccan because he bears the dormant powers of an entity called “The Demiurge,” who will, one day, rewrite the laws of magic across the multiverse. Mother wants this power for herself and, as such, has made a deal with Kid Loki to betray his teammates and bring her Wiccan so she can feast on him.
Obviously, there’s far more to it than that, but for the purposes of this article, you’re all caught up!
For now – onwards to America Chavez!
Who Is America Chavez?
America Chavez – created by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta in Vengeance #1 – is a human born to two mothers in a multiversal paradise known as the Utopian Parallel – a realm created by the Demiurge that resides outside of time and space – at least as we know it. In fact, it’s from the Demiurge that America gets her powers and, how many of the people of her realm, received them. If you remember – the Demiurge is a future incarnation that Billy “Wiccan” Kaplan inhabits. So – when America meets Billy in Young Avengers vol. 2, she already has a history with him – sorta.
Why sorta? Because she was forced to leave the Utopian Parallel when she was just six. See — her multiversal dimensions came under attack and her two mothers heroically sacrificed themselves to save, not only America but many of the people of their particular realm. It was at this time that America’s powers became known to her because she ended up having to use them to escape. What are her powers? She can fly, has super-duper strength, and is pretty much bulletproof, but her primary power is that she can punch or kick star-shaped holes in space to jump through the multiverse from dimension to dimension. This is how she ended up in the primary Marvel universe.
When we first meet her in 2011’s Vengeance #1, she is working with a team known as the Teen Brigade. The Teen Brigade has a bit of a history in Marvel canon as they were around back when Marvel first premiered. They were led by Rick Jones and first premiered in The Incredible Hulk #6 in 1963. The team that America Chavez premiered with was actually the third incarnation of the team and was lead by a character who named himself The Ultimate Nullifier.
Throughout this run, we only ever see her with a pretty general powerset of flight and strength, as well as an aptitude for fighting in other dimensions and a general distrust for the Kid Loki version of Loki. However, starting in the preview comic Marvel Now: Point One, and then continuing on in the pages of the Gillen/McKelvie run of Young Avengers, we start to get more of her backstory. It’s here, for instance, that we learn she hails from another dimension called the Utopian Parallel and that she is the orphaned only child of two mothers who died saving everyone else. It’s also here that we learn Billy Kaplan’s future form of the Demiurge is responsible for her reality’s creation.
It’s also in the pages of Young Avengers that we first start to see her dimension-hopping power. What does that mean and how does it work? Well – she can punch or kick a star-shaped portal from one world to the next and, as long as she focuses, she can choose the dimensional destination. It’s like, she can shatter the dimensional barriers between worlds. In the Gillen/McKelviee run of Young Avengers we see this a LOT – it’s actually a major component of the narrative.
As we said in our intro, this volume of the Young Avengers follows the adventures of this team – reluctantly brought together – as they do all they can to stay one step ahead of Mother, an extra-dimensional parasite who has learned of Billy Kaplan’s existence. Mother is chasing the team because she can sense the latent Demiurge powers in Billy Kaplan and she wants to feast on him so she can absorb this power for herself. And these heroes, who are all in their mid-teens, are the only ones who can see Mother and her manipulations on any plane of existence. Every adult on Earth is unable to see her, sense her or feel the effects of her manipulations and, hence, believe that the kids are lying or being fooled in some way. That is, the adults believe they know better than these kids. So this team of Young Avengers has no recourse for assistance and is forced to rely on themselves.
So America uses her powers to trip through dimension after dimension, escaping the minions that Mother sends after them and hiding from her as much as they can. That is until Mother kidnaps Billy Kaplan’s boyfriend, Teddy Altman. At that point, the team stops running and America must use her powers to travel all the dimensions necessary to find Mother so they can stage a rescue. America doesn’t really have the power to direct which dimension to go to, so they have to just keep trying until they happen upon Mother’s home dimension.
In the end, as we’ve discussed in previous articles – especially the ones on Billy “Wiccan” Kaplan and Teddy “Hulkling” Altman – the team is triumphant and they all return back to their “home” dimension and have a huge party.
On top of everything else in this run, we see the development of her friendship with Kate Bishop – who is her bestest friend in the entire world, get to see more of her sassy personality, and also learn that America Chavez is queer, that her relationship with Ultimate Nullifier – whatever relationship there actually was there – was very much experimental. Honestly – if you wanna get to know America Chavez, this second volume of Young Avengers is seminal.
The first of America’s girlfriends that we meet is an EMT named Lisa Halloran, of whom we first learn in Ultimates #5, but she was not the first love of America’s life. The first woman that America felt feelings for was Magdalena Velez. The two of them were just eleven years old and training to be boxers. America went on to become a superhero; Velez went on to become a professional boxer. We learn all of this in America’s first solo comic, America #5.
For a time, America is on a team called The Ultimates and is working with some of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe: Black Panther, Captain Marvel, The Blue Marvel, and … Galactus.
Yes – that Galactus.
But, this was at a time when his nature as “The Devourer of Worlds” had been changed to that of “The Lifebringer,” so he helped to seed new worlds instead of eating them.
However, as their missions came to a close, America decided it was time for her to go to college. This is where her self-titled series, America, opens – with her breaking up with her girlfriend Lisa and moving to the extra-dimensional college called Sotomayor University. It’s here that she learns of her true ancestry and the power that it actually gives her. It’s also here that she learns, though both of her mothers are dead, her Grandmother Madrimar is still alive. It turns out that, yes, America was born in the Utopian Parallel, but her family is not actually from there. At least not her grandmother and her mother, the daughter to Madrimar whose name was Amalia.
They escaped to the Utopian Parallel when their original home – Planeta Fuertona – came under attack from some energy-leeching parasites known only as La Legion. With this revelation also comes the knowledge that her homeworld was created by the love of two goddesses, that its people were loving and powerful, and that, though some Fuertonans were born with the power to create portals, it was still rare in their population. These special Fuertonans were referred to as Starlings – and now it’s even rarer. This is the true source of America’s power. She’d always thought she got her power from the Demiurge and her time spent in the Utopian Parallel – but it’s actually a power born of her heritage on Planeta Fuertona. And, because it’s her heritage, there is a culture around it and generations of experience to guide her in the use of her powers.
Going back to the source of her peoples’ power, she discovers just how truly powerful she is. Though she is strong and knows quite a bit about controlling her power, she is more of a novice than she ever knew. Her Grandmother Madrimar teaches her how to power stomp, how to access the Starling Highway, and how to tap into deeper reserves of power, to tap into the multiverse and listen for where she needs to be. This allows her to actually choose which dimensions she goes to instead of the trial-and-error methods she’d always used.
And it’s this that brings us to the revelation of who America actually is.
She is more than a badass, portal-punching sass machine; she is a revolutionary. She puts her fists and feet where her mouth is. She knows what she stands for, who her friends are, and is unafraid to fight every last villain – from Doctor Doom to Galactus – to assure that good prevails. However, though she is always a team player who fights to the bitter end for her friends, she tends to be a loner who doesn’t need anyone else to fight for her. She’ll fight everyone else’s battles with them, but won’t let anyone help her with her own – her battles are her’s to fight. This comes from being orphaned at such a young age and being forced to grow up so fast, learning to control her powers as she ripped through an infinite multiverse on her own.
We see this attitude all throughout the beginning of her solo title. But she quickly learns, in her fight with Exterminatrix and her Midas Corporation, that true revolution requires the unity and cooperation of all the different, disenfranchised, and disparate groups working together towards a common goal. America rejects everyone that approaches her at the beginning, but by the end, she is working with everyone towards the goal of cleansing Sotomayor University of the racist, corporate interests that have poisoned it.
However, she later learns a more important lesson: punching your problems doesn’t always work; sometimes the best justice is reconciliation. She learns this in dealing with La Legion on Planeta Fuertona where she discovers that they are not meaning to hurt any Fuertonans but that they are simply trying to survive by harvesting the only energy that sustains them – that was accidentally stolen from them by the Fuertonans early in their history. In discovering this, she was able to bring the two cultures together, to work and live together, instead of always fighting.
So where does that leave us with America Chavez in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
We don’t know much other than she is being played by Xochitl Gomez and that she will premiere in Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness. We also know that the Loki series on Disney+ revealed the newest big bad for Marvel – Kang. His revelation created an infinite multiverse of possibilities for the heroes to now fight. America Chavez, whose power to create star-shaped portals between realities, seems like it will be an important power to utilize for a villain who can disappear between realities into the folds of time – especially for a pair of sorcerer’s whose interests lie in keeping the multiverse from spinning entirely out of control.
Next week, we dive into Noh-Varr, a.k.a. Marvel Boy!
This article was originally published on 9/28/21.