The premise of All-America Comix #1 is an interesting one:
Her last name is VASQUEZ! Her first name…says it all! And when confronted with the hidden secret of the universe, you won’t believe the cosmic truth she uncovers! Brought to you by the Wildcats Version 3.0 team of JOE CASEY and DUSTIN NGUYEN—reunited for the first time in fifteen years!
Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen drop us into a familiar superhero world that’s not quite the Marvel Universe, but it knows what it’s doing. Enter America Vasquez, aka TheRealAmerica1 on an in-comic Instagram posting, violently punching her way to finding an identity as a young hero.
In an enlightening interview with writer Casey about this series with the Hollywood Reporter, Casey says, “The point is…the raw power of the single-issue superhero comicbook should never be forgotten. Or ever underestimated, for that matter.” It’s something that makes a ton of sense after reading this issue since it is in fact a one-shot that seems to promise more, but really it’s a means to tell the perfect first issue for a “new” hero. With that in mind, this is a great comic book that’ll make you want more. It’s also a creative persuit not unlike the wildly different kind of comics I spoke to Casey about with his comic Jesusfreak.
I wrap “new” in quotations because for all intents and purposes this character is very much like America Chavez, a character Casey co-created back in 2011 with Gabby Rivera and Nick Dragotta. In some respects, this reads like Casey is attempting to “take back” what he created at Marvel and deliver a story with a similar character in an entertaining way for a modern audience. The use of slang is expertly used throughout, for instance, and America rejects a superhero team that looks a lot like the Avengers. I imagine fans of America Chavez will have a field day writing essays comparing America Chavez and America Vasquez.
Knowing the history of America Chavez and being familiar with Marvel Comics characters that are clearly homaged in this book will make it all the more interesting as a comic book reader. The nods are fun, it’s interesting to see Casey pick up a character and play around in the world as if this was an Elseworlds tale, and it’s a very comic book fan-friendly read.
It’s also a solid read if you’re new to the character and know nothing. Casey writes a great character and I imagine a lot of research went into getting the voice and slang right. This is a character you’ll want to spend time with and the cliffhanger only intensifies that.
The art by Nguyen with colors by Brad Simpson and letters by Rus Wooton is strong, gritty, and realistic. This is a world that’s not bright like a comic book, but you gather the tone of it is similar to something out of the Ultimates. This is superheroes, but a play on the modern version. The visuals match the scripting, as it’s a modern take on modern comics and that’s cool.
All-America Comix is the kind of experiment you want to see more of, especially if you’re tired of superhero comics. It’s filled with wit, creativity, and a sense of excitement. Casey and Nguyen make a strong statement that superheroes can feel different, but still bring you the joy and impact of the best #1 issues in comic book history. Add All-America Comix to that pile.