Best Shots review - America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 works as a modern homage to Superman's origin

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

After a few delays, America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 finally arrives. Kalinda Vasquez and Carlos Gómez recount the day America was found and emphasize the importance of her family in the debut chapter of this five-issue series. Oh, and there are giant moles too.

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 credits

Written by Kalinda Vasquez
Art by Carlos Gómez and Jesus Aburtov
Letters by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10    

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 opens on the night that America's family found her washed ashore on Jones Beach in New York. Narrative captions provide the viewpoint of a mysterious third party who seems to know quite a bit about America's past. After this brief setup, we meet America in the present day, as she battles a group of giant moles alongside her West Coast Avenger teammate and bestie, Kate Bishop (a.k.a. Hawkeye). 

Artist Carlos Gómez does a really good job staging the action, and the artwork really sells the giant moles as terrifying, without making them overly monstrous in design. America and Hawkeye are handling the giant critters well enough, but America's control of her powers is mysteriously waning, making the situation more difficult than anticipated. America's problems are further exacerbated by the presence of a well-researched fan, whose questioning of America's past could not be coming at a more inopportune moment.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Writer Kalinda Vasquez uses the fan's questioning to cut back to America's past, specifically the night the Santana family brought her into their home. America Chavez's origin story works as a modern homage to Superman, and Vasquez's dialogue leans into that just a touch, as Javier Santana notes, "We've wanted another kid for so long. Maybe… maybe she was meant to end up with us." 

There's an additional concern as the family opts not to call the police for the time being, fearing that this young girl will get lost in the system if the authorities can't find her next of kin. Gómez's character work is strong throughout the issue, but really shines here, highlighting both the caution of the Santana family, and the vulnerability of young America. Color artist Jesus Aburtov makes the most of the New York setting once the family makes their way home with America in tow, using the contrast between the street lights and the shadows of the towering metropolis to create a warmer halo around the family, selling the idea that they are America's shelter from the darkness of her situation. 

A highlight moment comes once in the Santana family's home, when Javier asks his son, Berto, to be welcoming and kind to America. Gómez draws the scene as three panels – an establishing shot of the Santa family in the living room, a close-up of Berto looking unsure of himself, and a vertical panel of America eavesdropping on the conversation. Letterer Travis Lanham stretches the balloons containing Javier's dialogue across the page, cutting through the negative space in Gómez's artwork, creating a visual connection between the two children that mirrors the connection that Javier is asking his son to make.

America's past meets her present when she gets an alert about her old neighborhood being intruded upon by a mysterious dome. America, powers still wavering, returns home to save her family, and the mysterious narrator at the beginning of the issue returns. The issue ends as America's knowledge catches up with that of the reader's – someone is watching her and knows about her family and past. As a cliffhanger, this fell a little flat, but the issue succeeds despite the ending tease. 

The draw to America Chavez: Made in the USA is the character herself, and her past, which hasn't always been rendered with real detail. The team of Vasquez, Gómez, Aburtov, and Lanham creates an intimate look at America's first night with her found family, and sets the foundation for what should be an emotional rollercoaster of a limited series.

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 is available now in comic shops and on digital platforms. For the best digital comics reading experience, check out Newsarama's list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.

Robert Reed
Freelance Writer

Robert is a Los Angeles-based comics journalist and writer (formerly Omaha, Nebraska). He currently writes for Newsarama and Adventures in Poor Taste.