Culture

‘La Borinqueña’ Is The Afro-Latina Superhero The Comic Book World Has Been Missing

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the man who gave “Guardians of the Galaxy” character Groot a Puerto Rican makeover, is at it again. This time, Miranda-Rodriguez wants to introduce you to La Borinqueña, an Afro-Latina superhero. Her mission: to educate readers about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.


“La Borinqueña” is Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s answer to a growing demand for Afro-Latino representation in comic books.

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Credit: Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

“After the debut of my first issue for Marvel, Guardians of Infinity #3, I received a lot of positive publicity,” Miranda-Rodriguez told mitú. “Many fans were thrilled to see the new character that I created, Abuela Estela, represented in the pages of a Marvel comic book. She represented the Afro-Latino community of our people, an underrepresented population. Soon after, various Puerto Rican institutions reached out to me, including the Puerto Rican Administrative Affairs office in New York City.”

La Borinqueña’s real identity is Marisol Rios De La Luz, an undergraduate student at Columbia University. Her super powers include controlling tropical weather, teleporting, flying and, of course, superhuman strength. #Badass


Miranda-Rodriguez based the character off the most important women in his life, including his sister, Marisol.

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Credit: Danny Hastings / Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Miranda-Rodriguez’s sister was in an accident and paralyzed at 9 years old. He says she is represented in the strength and love of La Borinqueña. He was also inspired by his godmother Iris Morales, who was part of the original Young Lords Party, a Puerto Rican nationalist group, and his aunt Diana Rodriguez Mercado, who is Afro-Boricua. Although the character is a composite of the many women who have inspired him, Miranda Rodriguez wants the character to feel familiar to everyone.

“I especially want readers to see themselves,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “For too long we have not seen ourselves represented in mainstream media, especially our Latinas. That is why I created “La Borinqueña.” I see my family when I see her, and so do many others.”


And the fans are getting super hyped for the Afro-Latina superhero. Like, SÚPER hyped.

Credit: @nickyshemmick / Twitter

“When we see ourselves, we are empowered,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “When we are empowered, we represent ourselves positively and can stand as a symbol for social change and the betterment of our people.”


It’s not just comic book nerds that are flocking to the new superhero. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House of Representatives, is all about La Borinqueña.

Credit: @MrEdgardoNYC / Twitter

Miranda-Rodriguez told mitú that his new comic book is garnering the attention of politicians like Congresswoman Velázquez, and it’s providing him with a platform to talk about the Puerto Rican debt crisis. Velázquez even invited him to her office, where they discussed the debt crisis and her strategy to help Puerto Rico.


Most importantly, Miranda-Rodriguez wants “La Borinqueña” to represent hope for the Puerto Rican people.

Credit: @PRparadeNYC / Twitter

“I thought it was a perfect time to introduce a new character that actually served as a symbol of hope in our real lives, and she is becoming that,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “My mentor, Iris Morales, always taught me that if we don’t tell our stories, no one else will. “La Borinqueña” is giving me the platform to talk about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis as well as other crises affecting the island.”


And the cover for the comic is a who’s who of Puerto Ricans. Miranda-Rodriguez literally filled in the page with some of the most iconic Puerto Ricans in U.S. history.

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Credit: Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Hector Lavoe is depicted in the left hand corner waving a Puerto Rican flag as Sonia Sotomayor laughs gleefully over his shoulder. And all the way to the top right corner of the crowd you can see political prisoner Oscar López Rivera observing the crowd with a hushed excitement.


Although La Borinqueña is getting lots of love, she’s not the first Puerto Rican woman to don a superhero outfit.

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Credit: @ElBlogiante / Twitter

Since the release of “La Borinqueña,” a comic book artist named Omar Casanova has taken to social media to remind people that he created a similar character, Bori Girl, in 2012. A Facebook post by Casanova from 2012 shows an early version of Bori Girl. In another Facebook post, Casanova claims he was contacted by the creators of “La Borinqueña” to “keep quiet” about Bori Girl. Casanova then added that he is not associated with “La Borinqueña” in any way.


When asked about the other artist’s rendition, Miranda-Rodriguez said that the Puerto Rican flag and nationality have been used to create several superheroes over the years:

“Before “La Borinqueña,” there have been quite a few Puerto Rican superheroes, dating as far back as 1975 with George Pérez’ White Tiger for Marvel,” Miranda-Rodriguez said “Many publishers and artists have used the Puerto Rican flag to create other characters. In 2006, Marvel created El Vejigante, designed by my good friend Juan Doe. Also in 2006, under Image Comics, Caliente was introduced in the pages of “Ant #8.” In 2010, Unity Comics introduced Mayor Boricua. In 2011, I designed El Coqui Espectacular for playwright Matt Barbot. In 2015, I developed LAK6 for Darryl Makes Comics. Given that the Puerto Rican flag is public domain, many artists have and will continue to create characters inspired by it. I say the more the merrier.”


While La Borinqueña will be making her debut at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, fans will have to be patient to get their hands on the actual comic book.

LaBorinqueña
Credit: Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade has licensed the image of La Borinqueña for use on shirt that will be sold during the parade. The money will be donated to the NPRDP scholarship fund.

“We are looking for an October 5 release of “La Borinqueña #1″ at a special event that I am curating called Café Con Comics, a free event sponsored by CUNY’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “This event will include the premiere of the first issue followed by a panel discussion with other Puerto Rican comic book artists from the industry, an art show and a mini-Comic-Con experience.”


To learn more, you can follow Miranda-Rodriguez on Twitter @MrEdgardoNYC or you can check out La Borinqueña created by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez on Facebook.


READ: The Coolest Character in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Is Now Latino

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John Leguizamo Is Creating A New Latino Comic Book Superhero

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John Leguizamo Is Creating A New Latino Comic Book Superhero

John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

Colombian actor John Leguizamo is raising money to crowdsource an all-Latino produced comic book series featuring all Latino and Latina superheroes. Leguizamo says he “grew up loving comic books,” but he “knew that there was no white guy in tights like Superman coming to save my ass in my neighborhood,” so he’s creating a Latino superhero of his own. Leguizamo is partnering with Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the artist who brought us bestselling superhero series “La Borinqueña” and is looking for more Latino artists, illustrators, producers and editors to join the team.

So far, the crowdsourcing project has raised $2k of the necessary $75k to get the project off the ground. 

Meet PhenomX.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

According to the crowdsourcing website, Seed and Spark, the premise of PhenomX’s story is that “Sometimes, when the powers that be knock you down, you have to transform and bring the system down with you.” Set in present-day New York City, PhenomX’s story begins with an illegal government project to “rehabilitate criminals” in an experimental drug trial that turns them into superpowers. Then, we meet Max Gomez who “is finally about to be released from prison with a second chance at life and fatherhood. But with growing concerns about re-entering the outside world as an ex-con, Max doesn’t know where to turn.”  An FBI agent offers Max an opportunity to capture the “failed experiments,” by giving him superpowers. 

Still, Max “feels like a prisoner. Secrets are still being kept from him, and his target grows stronger every moment. Watch Max as he learns that he’s more than just a statistic… he’s more than just an ex-convict… he’s more than a phenomenon… he’s PhenomX.”

Leguizamo doesn’t want to wait for Hollywood. “Holly-wouldn’t,” he says.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

I want to share with you this new proposal. We’re going to be entrepreneurs together,” Leguizamo tells a camera stationed outside a Chicago theater just before Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” performance. He’s incognito, “hence the glasses and the hoodie.” Leguizamo is asking us to invite our tías and tíos to contribute to the worthy cause. “I grew up loving comic books, Spiderman, Superman, The X-Men, Sub-Mariner, Thor, but there were no Latin people. What happened? We existed! Being Latin IS a superpower, y’all!” Leguizamo says. The entire project is going to be Latin-fueled. “It’s going to be written by me, a Latin guy, and colored and drawn and penciled by all Latin folks,” Leguizamo continued. “We’re going to have Latinas with superpowers. We’re not gonna wait for Hollywood. Holly wouldn’t. Hollywhite. Forget that. We’re doing it ourselves.”

Leguizamo hopes that PhenomX inspires young Latinos to see themselves as superheroes, too.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

“In today’s world, it’s incredibly important to support Latin artists,” Leguizamo writes on Seed and Spark. “I hope to use this project to not only inspire the Latin youth community but also celebrate the contributions of Latin artists to the comic book world. There is a lack of Latin representation in Hollywood, and it’s important to showcase Latin superheroes. Now, you can help me by supporting this comic book series to inspire Latinx teens.” 

Every single person who makes a contribution will score swag ranging from stickers to becoming a character in the story.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

For $25, you automatically receive a digital copy of the first PhenomX comic book. A $75 donation earns you an autographed copy of one of the first PhenomX comic books. Donations of $1,000 or more earn you a slice of John’s favorite New York-style pizza with John Leguizamo himself (travel not included). “If you give super money, then, I’m going to draw a character that looks like you and name a character after you,” Leguizamo says of the highest $10k donation tier listed. 

Leguizamo is the Renaissance Man we need right now.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

Leguizamo was born July 22, 1964, in Bogotá, Colombia. He moved to Queens, New York when he was just four years old. He is known for his roles in Hangin’ with the Homeboys (1991), Romeo + Juliet (1996) and the voice of Sid in Ice Age (2002). Most recently, Leguizamo has introduced a Broadway play, “Latin History for Morons,” and now he’s dabbling in comic books. We don’t know what you can’t do, Leguizamo. His campaign has drawn in 37 donations totaling $2,033, averaging $55 per donation. Join in on the cause by donating here.

READ: ‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances

Latinos Mourn The Death Of Astrological Legend Walter Mercado Who Died During Día De Los Muertos

Entertainment

Latinos Mourn The Death Of Astrological Legend Walter Mercado Who Died During Día De Los Muertos

@OfficialJoelF / Twitter

Latinos are in disbelief to learn that the infamous Puerto Rican astrologer, Walter Mercado, died, at age 87, on Saturday. For more than 50 years, Mercado’s televised passion for astrological predictions, refusal to conform to gender roles, and mucho, mucho amor for his fans has secured a beloved space in the Latino zeitgeist. Whether your memory of Mercado was hearing your mom yell, “Callaté!” when his segment aired or memorizing your horoscope for the following day, every day, Mercado’s daily presence on your living room TV made him part of the family.

The public expects his immediate family to announce the cause of his passing, though San Juan’s Auxilio Mutuo Hospital spokeswoman, Sofia Luquis, did confirm his death on November 2, 2019.

Walter Mercado, a Pisces, was born at sea but lived and died in Puerto Rico.

Credit: @JuhemNR / Twitter

According to a biography published by Puerto Rico’s Foundation for Popular Culture, Mercado was born on March 9, 1932, on a ship traveling from Spain to Puerto Rico. He grew up in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where he later began his career in Puerto Rican telenovelas. Though his fame grew to all of Latin America, Mercado largely remained in Puerto Rico throughout his life.

The astrological legend Walter Mercado gifted us decades of accurate and life-changing predictions.

Credit: @BubbleTEar1 / Twitter

Mercaado happened to be at a studio when the star of a guest segment didn’t show up. Producer Elín Ortíz asked him to use a 15-minute segment to offer astrological divinations. Boricuas loved him, and he was soon made a regular.

Recently, Mercado opened up about his gender-nonconformity.

Credit: @Carrasquillo / Twitter

“I’m so into who I am, and I do [what] feels right for me,” Mercado explained to Remezcla. “I’m so connected to people and to the divine for that. That I look feminine with a cape? Everyone knows we have two energies – yin and yang – and I know how to balance them. If I have to be a warrior, then I’ll be that. If I have to be soft and subtle, I can be that, too.”

“He never identified as queer,” one mourner tweeted, “But it felt like he refused to be constrained by gender norms and antiquated ideas of masculinity. He even rejected our understanding of time. When an interviewer once asked his age, Walter Mercado responded “Soy ageless.” AGELESS NEVER DIES, BEBÉ.”

Mercado was a pioneer and icon in the LGBTQ+ Latino community.

Credit: @SheisDash / Twitter

Mercado never discussed his sexuality but courageously expressed his gender to millions of viewers decades before rampant machísmo and homophobia were regularly challenged. Like an actual LGBT superhero, Mercado was known for wearing bejeweled and sequined capes.

At one point, Mercado owned more than 2,000 capes, twelve of which were put on display in Miami in August.

Credit: HistorryMiami Museum

The HistoryMiami Museum put on a popular exhibit of his “costumes, mementos, and ephemera, on display for the first time ever” in its exhibit, Mucho, Mucho Amor: 50 Years of Walter Mercado, according to the museum website.

Mercado made a dazzling grand entrance, on a gold plated throne that was wheeled through the crowd.

Credit: @OfficialJoelF / Twitter

Wearing a gold sequined three-piece suit, 88-year-old Mercado blew kisses to his fans and posed for photographs as he met the cheering crowd one by one. Some received a coveted reading from the internationally acclaimed astrologer, which were likely some of the last divinations in his 50-year long career.

Mercado garnered 120 million Latino viewers every day for more than 30 years.

Credit: @hagtastic / Twitter

Basically, you, your abuela, and your mamá would gather in the living room every day to watch the icon deliver the wisdom we all needed. Today, Latinos are trying to tap into what made him so special to us all. “Our mothers, tias and tios relied on his advice,” one Twitter user shared, “but I think what captivated his 120 million daily viewers was his positivity and how he radiated mucho, mucho, mucho, amorrrrrr.”

Latinos are lamenting the loss of a decades-long tried and true New Year’s Eve tradition with Mercado.

Credit: THE NEW HERALD / YouTube

At the end of every year, Mercado gives a special segment on what each sign can expect from the new year. The mourning process for Mercado will extend at least until the New Year, as Latinos celebrate NYE without him. “I’m not an astrology buff but Walter was an icon and part of the family,” a mourner tweets, “New years will be so different without his segment his messages/horoscopes promoted optimism, love, and perseverance. Every evening he gave us hope, despite struggles, the stars showed a great future.”

Last year, Mercado predicted that Trump may be impeached in 2019.

Credit: @no_mamex / Instagram

Ok, so his exact Miami Herald-translated words were, “Donald Trump, the controversial president, will face his worst year and perhaps even impeachment.” This headline was published in The LA Times on January 2. Trump is currently undergoing an impeachment inquiry.

Beyond the loss of Mercado, it feels like a piece of our childhood died this weekend.

Credit: @lizzhuerta / Twitter

Ms. Lizz Huerta isn’t the first Latino to tweet about how Mercado’s death feels like the loss of something so innocent and pure from our childhoods. We all have such rich memories of how he was able to unite generations, though in varying ways. “My Tía would sit there and watch him weekly,” one dubious Latino tweeted. “I loved her dearly and while I would shake my head at her, if it made her happy to watch him, it was fine with me. She never sent money either which is why I was ok with it.”

We hope Mercado’s feeling mucho, mucho amor from wherever he is now.

Credit: @mijadoris / @cyberguurl / Twitter

Mercado passed on the final day of Día de Los Muertos, prompting Latinos to reaffirm Mercado’s destiny to transition to the stars themselves. Que descanse en Paz, Walter Mercado. You truly were a celestial being on this earth.

READ: Walter Mercado Got Real About His Flamboyant Style And Why He’s Long Said ‘No’ To Extreme Gender Conformity And Machismo