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Meet Marvel’s latest superhero: a Beyoncé-inspired “queer Latina” woman

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In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s election victory, what appeared to be an old comic strip started doing the rounds on social media. The cartoon in question showed Charlie Brown, Snoopy’s best friend and the star of Peanuts, staring blankly ahead with a shell-shocked expression on his face. The speech bubble above his head read: “My idols are dead and my enemies are in power.”

 

That's about it.

A photo posted by moby XⓋX (@moby) on

The image summed up many people’s feelings of hopelessness at the time. But now, with the energy from the international Women’s Marches still pumping through our veins, the time seems ripe for a cartoon that’s a little more inspirational; a little more, shall we say, kick-ass.

Enter: America Chavez.

Marvel’s latest superhero is a queer Latina from another universe, and the eponymous star of comic book series America. Gabby Rivera, the writer behind the comic, unveiled the cover art for the second issue of America on Instagram this week – and pointed out the obvious visual reference to Queen B.

“Ahhh!! It’s happening,” wrote Rivera. “Joe [Quinones, the series artist] killed it w the homage to Bey & Lemonade. Sooo excited!”

Rivera is also the author of YA coming-of-age story Juliet Takes a Breath, about a queer Latina teenager from the Bronx trying to “figure out this whole ‘Puerto Rican lesbian’ thing”. She told Refinery29 that Marvel fans were excited about the America Chavez because of her “Queer Latina” identity.


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“America is from this Utopian dimension where I think it was all women,” she said. “She has two moms who seemingly sacrificed themselves to protect both that world and the whole multiverse, including ours.”

She added: “America doesn’t know how powerful she is, but she’s gonna find out.”

beyonce

Beyoncé in the video for Formation: the inspiration for America Chavez.

Rivera said that she initially had had some reservations about entering the world of comic books. “It’s a little bit terrifying and intimidating to be a queer woman entering the Marvel universe,” she said. “Internally I’ve been like, man, are people gonna read this and tear me apart because of my identities? Because I’m a woman?”


Read more: What it’s really like to come out at work


However, she said that she wouldn’t be deterred by the prospect of online abuse.

“Am I worried about the trolls? No. I’m worried about not telling the story. I’m worried about little kids out there who wouldn’t get the story because we would be afraid of trolls.”

America Chavez first appeared as the second Miss America, one of the Young Avengers, in a Marvel comic in 2011. However, America – the second issue of which is set for release this spring – is the first time she’s starred in a solo series.

Marvel have made efforts in recent years to include more diverse characters and storylines in their comics. In 2014, the publisher introduced the world to Kamala Khan, aka Ms Marvel, its first female Muslim-American superhero.

The Black Panther, meanwhile – the group’s first black superhero – has been revived for an upcoming movie starring Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan.

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