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Gabby Rivera used the strength of the Latin woman as a source of inspiration for the writing of the history of America Chavez, a superheroine out of the ordinary
Gabby Rivera, of Puerto Rican ancestry, was born in the Bronx and raised in a Latino family full of strong women. From her experience as a woman, Latina, and queer, she decided to become a writer and publish her first novel, Juliet Takes a Breath, an atypical book about the growth that features a 19-year-old girl, who, like her creator, is queer, Puerto Rican and was raised in the Bronx.
Leer en español: Gabby Rivera: la latina detrás de la súperheroina de Marvel Comics
With Juliet Takes a Breath, Gabby won the Independent Publisher Book Award for Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans Fiction in 2017, which led her to be contacted by Marvel Comics. Thanks to this she was chosen to tell América Chávez story, the first latina and queer superheroine of the comic publisher.
America Chavez is a character created by Joe Cassey and Nick Dragotta, using the name of Miss America. America is preceded by Madeline Joyce, created in 1940 as a focus to attract young women readers after the decline in sales thanks to the Second World War.
Since her creation, it was decided that America was Latin and Queer; she appeared as a recurring character in some installments of Vengeance #1, Young Avengers, A-Force and Ultimates. But it was until 2017 that it was decided that America had its own series of comics, called America and the one in charge of creating a story for the new character was Gabby Rivera.
In a Ted talk that Gabby featured in New York, she spoke about the process of creating the history of America, where she mentions that during her childhood she never imagined that superheroines would become such an important part of her life since she saw them as beings completely different to her. "[...] I never felt powerful, I was always a great mass of docile and nervous energy, and among the superheroes, who were like the bad guys at school, there was no room for me."
Gabby also emphasizes not needing superheroes at that stage of her life, because she had Puerto Rican women from the Bronx as a family. She mentions her aunts who were policemen and paramedics, her enterprising grandmothers who sold jewelry and her mother who did a master's degree in education and taught at schools in New York for 30 years. "I used to sit down to eat with superheroines," she says.
Precisely, those spaces of food and family dialogue were the key, because there she learned how to narrate because she always found incredible stories by the women of her family. This is how Gabby decided to become a storyteller, a writer.
For the writing of America Gabby decided not to focus on America's superhero parts, but on her human side, this as a narrative resource for her to find herself. She decided to give America "permission to be soft" despite being a powerfully strong superhero.
That is why the history of America begins in a fictitious university, where she has as a mentor, Storm, a member of the X-Men and the first black superheroine in history.
But not only is Storm the one who guides her on her way, but she also has one of the most representative figures of the whole Latin American culture: her grandmother, from the Fuertona Planet, who of course is also a superhero and teaches her the Ancestral Planet. This, for her to learn about the history of her town, which had to flee out the Fuertona Planet, because it was invaded.
Gabby Rivera managed to create a very human story that draws on such important issues as the acceptance of the LGBTQ + community, migration, sorority and feminine strength and of course the strength of the Latin roots.
So far America has two volumes and readers await the announcement of the third.
LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero
Translated from: 'Gabby Rivera: la latina detrás de la súperheroina de Marvel Comics'