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.
“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.
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.
i'm so excited for la borinqueña like she's an afro-latina superhero fjvjjfkg pic.twitter.com/8ur1P1Uyll
— SHARK EMOJI (@zimmermannsjack) May 17, 2016
“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.
— ¡Edgardo! (@MrEdgardoNYC) May 31, 2016
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.
— Puerto Rican Parade (@PRparadeNYC) May 11, 2016
“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.
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.
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.
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.