Gabby Rivera teases a final showdown with The Exterminatrix!

The Exterminatrix has America Chavez up against the wall. And now that she’s been isolated from her friends and allies, the only one our hero can rely on might just be herself.

On December 20, America’s fight against The Exterminatrix comes to an epic conclusion as writer Gabby Rivera and artists Jen Bartel and Joe Quinones set the hero up with her final shot at the villain in AMERICA #10!

We caught up with Gabby to hear more about America Chavez’s big moment. America has a few new powers in her repertoire. Tell us a little bit about them!

Gabby Rivera: One of her new abilities will be the power stomp, which we saw when she went to Vegas with Madrimar. If she flies upward and uses a lot of her energy to come back down, she can slam hard enough into the ground in a way that basically levels everything. That’s something I wanted to play around with—the ways in which Madrimar can help America fine tune her abilities and find the other special things that she can do. She already has so much power, so now it becomes about the ways we can hone that and give her other cool tricks.

One of the powers that she has developed over the series has been the ability to punch open multiple portals to find someone she’s looking for. Storm helped her develop that, and she’s trying to use it to subvert Dr. Brightly, which would allow her to do the right thing under a change in administration at the school… But I don’t want to say too much! By the way, Storm’s recent interactions with America have been so great to read!

Gabby Rivera: Oh my god, I love that! It felt legendary for me to write Storm. I felt like it might’ve been one of the best moments of my life. I loved being able to bring Storm in as a top-level, iconic mentor for America; to have them engage with each other in a thoughtful way, a loving way, and also a very physical way. They fly and fight and learn together. Storm shows America that she’ll always be there for her. It’s important to show women of color bonding and helping each other evolve. There’s a Storm renaissance! The Exterminatrix stands as a very formidable opponent—and she has the Midas Corporation on her side. How will America’s new powers help her in this fight?

Gabby Rivera: The “Exterminatrix” arc has showed that, yes, America’s powers are important, but so is her team. Exterminatrix has so much power behind her, but we realized that America does too. So how do we build up Prodigy and the Betas and others? They’re present, and they’re also part of the fight for the soul of Sotomayor University. America is super powerful and she could obliterate everything, but it’s never that simple.

Because Exterminatrix is so powerful and her weaponry is so refined (and sociopathic!), America really experiences a tremendous injury. So how does she recover from that and where does it take her? We link her pain to the connections she experiences with her family and her ancestors. In her pain and in her healing, she sees that people have her back. And she has the ability to say, “Okay, I don’t have to do everything on my own. In what ways can I really channel what I’m supposed to be doing and what I’ve learned in order to defend the school and be part of the team?” Beyond this fight, how what she learns here impact her approach to being a super hero moving forward?

Gabby Rivera: This is a non-traditional super hero story. America Chavez navigates grief, identity, and personhood. And we want to do it in a way where she’s reflective, and still headstrong, brave, and a little reckless. She possesses a spiritual power that she hasn’t tapped into yet, but we got the seeds of that in issue #7 with her origin story. What do you see as the most important takeaways from this arc?

Gabby Rivera: That she’s not alone. That folks love her and that she has family. And also, just because you can use force to fix a problem and blow something up doesn’t always mean that it’s the best thing to do.

Even though she had a leadership position with the Ultimates and she has proven herself as a person who can make good decisions, now she’s forging her own path. And I think that, even though we can often show up for a group, sometimes we don’t do that same thing for ourselves. So now, America is learning that she has to show up for herself too.

AMERICA #10, by writer Gabby Rivera and artists Jen Bartel and Joe Quinones, drops on December 20!

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Gabby Rivera teases the hero’s Marvel Legacy clash with Exterminatrix!

Exterminatrix has finally caught up with her prey. And America Chavez faces one of her greatest foes yet in AMERICA #8!

A.K.A. Oubliette Midas, the baddie claims to have killed vampires and gods, so America will be tested like never before. As Marvel Legacy dawns, she’ll need Grandma Madrimar—and all of her friends—to survive and somehow defend Sotomayor University. Written by Gabby Rivera with art by Joe Quinones, the test has never been tougher for the red, white, and blue hero.

We caught up with Gabby to hear more about what she has in store for America. America has some incredibly impressive abilities, but so does Oubliette…would you consider her powers a match for our hero’s?

Gabby Rivera: Exterminatrix will wreak havoc on America Chavez and Sotomayor University. Oubliette’s ability to manipulate any situation to her advantage will blindside America and her crew. She’ll be at least ten steps ahead the entire way.

America’s going to have to see past the mind games and dig deep into what really motivates Exterminatrix. Something else going against AmericaOubliette has the Midas Corporation on her side…

Gabby Rivera: The Midas Corporation has already taken shots at America in issue #5 and #6—the two-story arc with Kate Bishop A.K.A. Hawkeye. We saw their hold on Magdalena—America’s childhood friend and almost ex-girlfriend—and how deep their reach goes into the Underworld. We haven’t seen the last of Midas, that’s for sure—and with Exterminatrix invested in America’s downfall, they’re bound to pull out all the stops. How will America handle this threat?

Gabby Rivera: America’s not going to want to play as dirty as Exterminatrix…but she might have to be brutal to save both Sotomayor and herself. What else can you tease about issue #8?

Gabby Rivera: X’Andria and Prodigy have some really great moments in this upcoming Exterminatrix arc…I’d keep an eye out for them too!

Enter the fray with AMERICA #8, by Gabby Rivera and artist Joe Quinones, on October 25!

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Artist Joe Quinones pits the star against Exterminatrix!

She’s faced The Demiurge, teamed up with Galactus, started life at a new college—but America Chavez faces her biggest challenge yet in AMERICA #8!

On October 25, writer Gabby Rivera and artist Joe Quinones bring our hero face-to-face with The Exterminatrix for Marvel Legacy! America will need everyone at her side—not least Grandma Madrimar—as the super villain goes on a warpath.

We spoke with Quinones about his continued relationship with America, making homages in his art, and working with Gabby Rivera. How has your relationship with America Chavez changed as you’ve drawn her more?

Joe Quinones: Like any character, the more time I’ve spent drawing America, the more I understand her. Drawing her becomes second nature and I start to get a real handle on her body language and personality. It’s important to have that through line, given that her outfits constantly change. I love drawing her. Were you able to put your own spin on The Exterminatrix and her minions when preparing for this issue?

Joe Quinones: Absolutely. I had my own take on [artist] Russell Dauterman’s designs for her from THE MIGHTY THOR, with some design suggestions from AMERICA‘s own [artist] Ming Doyle. I wanted to add a little more color into her outfit with the two-tone cape and to open up her face mask a bit so we could see her mouth. Ming suggested the kiss mark eye holes and I loved the idea. Apparently, you’ve managed to incorporate a family pet into the Marvel Universe…

Joe Quinones: Yes! I felt inspired by my tenure on HOWARD THE DUCK, where [writer] Chip Zdarsky and I incorporated my real life cat, Biggs, into the story. Here we have a cameo by my sister’s dog, Charlie—an energetic little pug-chihuahua. I can’t say it has a huge influence on storytelling, it’s just a fun connection for me to enshrine these two animals I love in the comics I’m drawing. How has it been working with the AMERICA crew on this series?

Joe Quinones: Everyone has been so nice and supportive of each other since the start. I finally got to meet Gabby a month ago and she was a ball of energy and ideas. [Editors] Wil Moss and Sarah Brunstad have kept the train running and have a keen understanding of the voice of the book. Readers might notice a nice Norman Rockwell nod in this issue. Do you come up with those references or do they appear in the script?

Joe Quinones: Yes, indeed. I nod to Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom of Speech” painting in this issue. I also referenced his “Freedom of Worship” piece for the cover to issue #10. I thought it appropriate as America tries to stand up and speak truth to power in this scene. It didn’t appear in the script, but I feel like borrowing from these iconic pieces helps speak to the heart of the book—we are immigrants and people of color. We are Americans. We are free and here to stay.

Snag the final product in AMERICA #8, by writer Gabby Rivera and artist Joe Quinones, on October 25!

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Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones on the big new threat coming in AMERICA #8.

America Chavez got a taste of what it’s like to fight Exterminatrix when she was with the Young Avengers, taking on alternate reality versions of the character from the multiverse, but now the real Exterminatrix has come back to mess with our hero. As she continues to discover new powers and learn how to use them, America will need to take on this semi-familiar foe and investigate the motivations of the shadowy Midas Corporation as the “Exterminatrix” arc kicks off in AMERICA #8.

We spoke to Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones about what to expect in this big new storyline. After dealing with her unsettling doppelgangers alongside the Young Avengers, America finds herself up against the real Exterminatrix in this next story arc. Without revealing too much about how the current story wraps up, what can you tell us about this (sort of) new villain and how she comes up against America?

Gabby Rivera: Exterminatrix represents that perfect mix of malice and power that’s imbued in every classic villain babe. And we’re pushing that even further in Exterminatrix’s arc in AMERICA. Exterminatrix, aka Oubliette Midas, has become keenly aware of America Chavez’s presence in the world and is hell bent on conquering America. She’s curious about how America’s powers can be used to further her family’s name in the multiverse and reinforce their control over other planets and civilizations.

But first things first, Exterminatrix has her sights set on Sotomayor University.

Joe Quinones: Exterminatrix is a villain that requires a more nuanced, forward-thinking approach. With her, America is playing chess, not checkers. While America may feel somewhat familiar with her new foe, this is going to be entirely different from the constructs she battled before. What has it been like to pit these two against each other?

Gabby Rivera: Writing America Chavez and Exterminatrix in the same issue is wild and I love it. They’re both so powerful. They’re both women who totally own the way they move in the world. Neither of them shy away from being strong, sexual beings and brave leaders, nor do they feel intimidated by others. So unfortunately for America and Exterminatrix, they’ve got a lot in common and it’s going to create that high level tension found between the great super hero and villain combos.

Joe Quinones: This is a battle where America is going to quickly find she can’t win with her fists or brute force. America must fight against her own instincts and rely on her wits. What role does the Midas Corporation play in Exterminatrix’s sudden return?

Joe Quinones: That would be telling…

Gabby Rivera: Exterminatrix is most definitely the main event villain of the next few issues. But trust that Midas is ever-present and always has an invested interest in the downfall of America Chavez. Exterminatrix shares quite the history with Noh-Varr, one of America’s friends from her time in the Young Avengers. Will we see Marvel Boy make an appearance?

Joe Quinones: Never say Noh-Varr.

Gabby Rivera: Marvel Boy is currently in space with the Inhumans in ROYALS. So he’s a little tied up right now—and hopefully getting over that love affair! America has discovered a few new abilities throughout the current story arc, and more are hinted at in the solicit for America #8. How will she deal with adjusting to these newfound powers while battling yet another new threat?

Joe Quinones: With bombast and uncertainty. America has a lot of difficulty dipping in her toe. She’s all in or nothing, but that can have consequences.

Gabby Rivera: America’s new powers are explored even further in the upcoming issues. She’s able to open multiple star-portals and search them for whoever she’s looking for on the strength of their voice. That’s wild! Storm helped her tap into that and that’s the level of ability America’s reaching, where Storm is guiding her. And still, be on the lookout for the ways Madrimar levels up America’s powers. There might even be a duo move they show off together. Have you been able to add any twists of your own to Exterminatrix’s look?

Joe Quinones: Russell Dauterman already redesigned her for Mighty Thor, I just did some subtle tweaks over that look; adding a two-tone cloak and opening up the face mask to see her mouth. It was Ming Doyle’s suggestion to add the ‘lips for eyes’ motif, and I loved it.

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‘Hawkeye’ Kate Bishop drops by for a two-part escapade!

In our humble opinion, America Chavez and Kate Bishop have one of the best friendships in the Marvel Universe. They always seem to really enjoy each other’s company, and they show up for one another when things get rough. In the upcoming AMERICA issues #5 and #6, we’ll see the two buddies teaming up, and facing down some challenges from America’s past.

We spoke to editor Wil Moss and associate editor Sarah Brunstad about all the Amerikate goodness we can look forward to in this two-part story. Why do you think everyone loves America and Kate’s friendship so much?

Wil Moss: I think it in part has to do with the fact that they’re very open with each other. They like each other a lot, and that comes through in their exchanges. I think it makes their friendship feel real.

Sarah Brunstad: And they’re really honest with each other, which is the best kind of girl friendship.

Wil Moss: And they each need someone like that in their lives. America almost checks Kate sometimes a little bit, and with America, Kate kind of brings her down, grounds her a little bit.

Sarah Brunstad: That really is a big part of this two-part story: getting America to open up about all of the things that have been happening to her, about being the leader of the Ultimates and the kind of pressure that’s on her. And she opens up with Kate in a way that she doesn’t with practically anyone else.

Wil Moss: The story opens up with her going to Kate’s to unwind. She goes to Kate’s because she needs to download; she needs to not be “America Chavez” for a couple minutes. We’ve seen both America and Kate going through a lot of changes lately, entering new chapters, and striking out on their own. Do you think they can support each other through all that turbulence? Does teaming up feel a little like coming home for them?

Wil Moss: Yeah, probably so. America has started this journey of self-discovery, both at Sotomayor University and also with the new aspects of her powers that she’s learning about in the AMERICA series. And Kate with her private eye practice. They’re both going on these new paths. It’s like when you go home and see your high school friends for the first time during your freshman year in college; it’s important to have that person in your life who can be the same when you’re going through a lot of changes.

Sarah Brunstad: Yeah, there’s no gap there. I think the fact that America and Kate really seem to get each other really contributes to the strength of their friendship. They both care deeply about others and they have big hearts, but they also both love snarkiness and kicking butt.

Sarah Brunstad: Absolutely. This whole story is really kind of a buddy story in that way. We wanted to embrace that. And the first arc of America’s new series is really action packed, there’s a lot that happens, she discovers a lot about her life. And in this arc—there’s still a lot going on, there’s a lot of action and she needs to deal with this crush that she’s got—but we really enjoyed being able to let her breathe and let them enjoy each other’s company for a little bit.

Wil Moss: Yeah, there are some big problems in this story, for sure! They don’t just sit around and talk! Things go south real quick, and it’s a lot of fun for both characters.

America #5 cover by Jen Bartel Without giving too much away, Kate and America are will face a new threat in AMERICA #5. What challenges can we expect to see them going up against?

Wil Moss: As Sarah mentioned, we meet somebody from America’s past. We don’t know much about America’s past. We basically know about her origin, that she left the Utopian Parallel and then, and then the in-between years, we don’t know as much about. So we meet someone from America’s past who’s a crush, a prior relationship—this girl whom America reconnects with while she’s on this trip to go see Kate. And that old flame brings nothing but trouble. That’s what really gets the story going. There are boxing matches with super villains; there’s a lot packed into this two-part story.

And I’d also like to talk about the art. Joe Quinones is the main artist on the series. We’ve got this two-parter where Ramon Villalobos our guest artist, and our guest colorist is Tamara Bonvillain. Ramon is amazing. He loves America the character and it comes through in his art, which has hyper detailed visuals and great layouts. He just gets America’s character and you can tell right away. He did a nice variant for AMERICA #3. He’s killing it on these two issues. And America has such a great sense of style. She seems like a fun character to work on from a visual perspective.

Sarah Brunstad: Yeah, I know Joe has a lot of fun with the fashion in every issue. He always brings that to the supplementary characters, also. He has really fun designs. The Betas, the sorority sisters America interacts with, are all kind of playing off of the same elements. There’s a lot of pop culture going on between writer Gabby Rivera and Joe. The whole thing is just really visually exciting. What did you enjoy most about working on this story arc?

Wil Moss: It’s its own, stand-alone thing, so anyone who hasn’t read the book so far can dive in pretty easily. But at the same time, it advances the larger story that Gabby’s telling, the mystery of who has been behind a lot of the trouble that America has run into in the opening four issues. And that’s part of why she goes to see Kate, because she wants to use her detective skills to help her figure some stuff out. And also, the second part, issue #6, ends with a pretty big revelation for America that upends a lot of stuff she things she knows. So the story is going to leave a mark.

Sarah Brunstad: It has also been really fun getting Gabby and Kelly Thompson, the writer of HAWKEYE, to work together. It’s a great collaboration. Kelly knows Kate’s voice instantly, and has been able to have a lot of fun with Gabby in putting this together.

Wil Moss: We’re calling Kelly our archery consultant. If Gabby’s at the stick driving the car—it’s a bad metaphor—but we’ve been talking with Kelly a lot about getting Kate’s voice, and it has been great. Would you like to tease or mention anything else?

Sarah Brunstad: Issue #7 is going to be really exciting, just to plug that for a second! We’re going to go back and tell America’s origin which, as Wil said, has never really been told before. We know what happened with the Utopian Parallel, but we don’t really know anything else about her young life. That issue is going to have a cast of several different guest artists.

Wil Moss: Some cool guest artists for sure! We’ve got Annie Wu, Jen Bartel, Joe Quinones, Chris Visions, and a couple other people. And Joe Quinones is returning in number full to the book with issue #8, to pick up the next big arc. We do want to highlight that Joe Quinones is coming back, he’s not gone.

It all gets started in AMERICA #5 by Gabby Rivera and Ramon Villalobos, available July 19!

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Miss America Chavez takes control in her own ongoing series from Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones!

Many of us consider America Chavez one of our favorite characters. She has an independent streak and a strong sense of self that resonate with a lot of readers.

And now, she has her own series!

We caught up with writer Gabby Rivera and artist Joe Quinones on what it has been like to work on this fan favorite and what to expect when AMERICA launches in March of 2017. America has a very loyal fan base, and many readers have been hoping to see her in her own book for some time. What do you think makes her so popular?

Gabby Rivera: From talking to some of my friends who love America, I think people find her identity and her attitude appealing. They like that she’s Latina, and that’s she’s queer. And not only that, I see her as kind of a tough girl, and I think people like that. It reminds me of that old Michelle Rodriguez movie, “Girlfight,” where she plays a boxer. Many of the experiences coming up in this country now have relevance to America’s story. And the folks we’re trying to uplift, support, and watch shine can relate to her.

Joe Quinones: I’m one of those readers! I fell in love with the character while reading Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen’s amazing run on YOUNG AVENGERS and have since both wanted to draw her and see her carry her own book. I think her popularity stems from three things: her uncompromising tough girl demeanor, her sense of fashion, and the representation she imparts to LGBTQ, Latina, and female communities. Yet these aspects of her character don’t completely define her. Instead, behind her tough exterior, we find a person who cares for her fellow man and friends and will fight for and protect them fiercely. A lot of fans really love America’s friendship with Kate Bishop, who also has an upcoming book of her own. Do you envision any crossovers?

Gabby Rivera: I’ll say to readers that they should look out for a little Kate Bishop in this book. Anything is possible!

Joe Quinones: I consider Kate my other favorite character from YOUNG AVENGERS. Given their past, we can expect at least some appearances from Kate here. No plans as yet for a crossover, but I had such fun doing the Howard the Duck/Squirrel Girl crossover with Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, and Erica Henderson. I’d certainly enjoy doing one again with two of my favorite characters. And I so look forward to Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero’s HAWKEYE series, so color me interested.  Now that we’ll get to see America’s character explored a little more deeply, what can we expect to see that maybe we couldn’t have seen before she had her own book?

Gabby Rivera: I’m finding in my research that readers want to know everyday things about her. What kind of music does she listen to? What books does she read? What goofy character traits or nuances haven’t been fleshed out before? I’ve had fun writing that part of her, because I can do anything. She could listen to Oasis, she could like knitting—not that I’ve put those things in the book. But I’ve enjoyed the endless potential.

A big chunk of the book will show her going to college and searching for connections to her family. At her age, the transition from childhood to adulthood, you want to figure out not only, “what do I find interesting, what do I want to study?” but also, “where do I come from?” and, “what didn’t I learn in school that I want to study in university?” In this book, we’ll get to see how these things she learns and the classes she takes impact the way she approaches learning about herself, where her ancestors come from, and what she can really do with her powers.

Joe Quinones: I think we can expect to further peer behind her hard exterior and get a sense of what drives her. We find her looking outside of the world she has known and hoping to grow. What do you think this boost in visibility for America says about the direction of representation in comics?

Gabby Rivera: I just recently visited the Marvel headquarters for the first time, and it’s as dope as you’d imagine! Sana Amanat, the Director of Content and Character Development, is a badass woman of color! Walking into that space and talking to everyone there, I could tell that Marvel wants authentic voices and real people who feel invested in this type of work and this type of writing. They’ve brought on Roxanne Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates, oh my god! I feel beyond humbled and honored to be a part of this world, where they create books dedicated not only to the craft of comics, but also to uplifting voices, and breaking down racism, sexism, and homophobia. It feels big. And I feel excited that readers will get to see this story at this time in our country.

Joe Quinones: We still have a long way to go, but I see a heartening trend toward better representation in the industry. You can’t underestimate the impact of seeing yourself reflected back in the culture. It says you have importance. It says you matter. You too can achieve great things. The doors are not closed to you. The ceiling is not too high. The events of Civil War II hit America pretty hard. Will that affect her story in the new book?

Gabby Rivera: We’ll see her doing a lot of reflection, but through a fun story that’s unique to America. We’ll get to know more about her and how some of her past experiences shape her decisions to go to college, and to try to kind of break away from the super hero scene for a while.

Joe Quinones: Certainly. Given the way Civil War II played out, America has found herself a bit disillusioned and looking outside of the super hero community. Can you tell us a little about your experience collaborating together?

Gabby Rivera: We’re still in the early stages, and it feels kind of like your first week of school, when there’s a lot excitement about finding yourself in this new space. Joe creates stunning work—wait until you see it! I really enjoy working with someone of his skill level and artistry. And I love the way that he draws America. Her body is powerful and her clothing is fresh and sexy, but not sexualized.

And as someone working on my first comic, I love seeing the art turn from pencil sketches to fully inked, vibrant work. I’m enjoying learning the ins and outs of this process. I’ve felt really supported [through] all of it.

Joe Quinones: While Gabby continues fine-tuning her script, I’ve been working on designs for the book. I feel very excited by what I’ve seen so far. She clearly has got a feel for America’s voice. I so look forward to working with her further. What have you found unique or interesting about working on AMERICA?

Gabby Rivera: Personally, I’ve found it a wonderful challenge. Marvel didn’t tap me for this because I write comics; I don’t write comics, I write quirky, coming of age novels. I’ve really enjoyed taking that style and aesthetic—my kind of goofy, weird stuff—and using that to explore a character who has super powers. Also, working with America, I’ve had so much free space in terms of figuring out what exactly she can do with her powers, and how she does it. And I’ve loved having the chance to write a book that’s pro-women and pro-people of color. I can say, “I want to make this professor of America’s Afro-Latina and I want her to do x, y, and z,” and the people at Marvel tell me, “Yeah, do it! Run with it!”

Joe Quinones: I’ve never spent so much time looking up crop jackets in my life. America has such a unique and definitive style, so I’ve been researching and designing outfits for her that are new but still line up with her uncommonly patriotic fashion sense. I’ve had fun with it. Would you like to tease anything else about the book?

Gabby Rivera: Readers should get ready for a cameo from Storm!

Joe Quinones: HOWARD THE DUCK saw the introduction of my cat Biggs into the 616. I hope to introduce at least one other favorite pet of mine into the Marvel Universe. Time will tell…

Join Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones in casting your vote for AMERICA beginning in March 2017!

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