DC Goes the Stereotypical Route, Having Green Lantern Hold a Bag of Tamales To Celebrate LHM
Corporations everywhere are rushing to show their support for Latinx Heritage Month, which begins on the fifteenth of September. Some, however, are doing it better than others. DC Comics is unfortunately one of the others.
Although it was first announced in June, DC’s Latinx Heritage Month covers, which reimagine classic heroes and villains with their favorite Latino dishes, have rubbed many readers the wrong way. It seems like just yesterday that Dr. Jill Biden was comparing Latinos to breakfast tacos, but DC’s approach may actually be a little bit worse.
The controversy began bubbling when DC offered readers a sneak peek at their plans for Latinx Heritage Month, but the story really started making waves when DC commemorated the first day of September with a cover featuring Green Lantern holding, wait for it, a bag of tamales.
Regardless of the fact that this iteration of Green Lantern, named Kyle Rayner, is written as Mexican-American, according to the San Antonio Express-News, the image is clearly reductive at best and horribly offensive at worst.
The original artwork, seen on the left, was a heartfelt tribute to well-known Mexican muralist Jorge González Camarena drawn by a Mexican freelance illustrator working for DC named Jorge Molina. The image on the right, however, was an alternate drawn by Molina at DC’s request, and it’s pretty clear the artist himself wasn’t too fond of it.
The original artwork, which is a beautiful homage, was rejected by DC in favor of a much broader, more stereotypical illustration using cheap reference points to, presumably, curry favor with their established readership. Looking at the original cover next to its inspiration, there’s no denying which of the two DC covers is the superior illustration.
DC responded by saying the “tamale cover” was erroneously announced as the official artwork when it was, in fact, just an alternate. But Molina’s initial tweet seems to suggest otherwise. It’s very possible — probable, even — that DC was trying to do some damage control in the hopes of quickly reversing their objectively terrible idea.
The backlash seemed to work, as Molina soon tweeted that DC would be moving forward with his original homage, even though he did take some of the blame for “the confusion” surrounding the two covers. Whether DC was behind him saying that is up for speculation.
Despite the welcome change, DC has not responded to questions about their other Latinx Heritage Month covers, which feature Hawkgirl serving plates of food at a platanitos fritos cafe, Blue Beetle holding a handful of tacos as he glides through the air, and popular DC villain Bane struggling to pay for a plate of flan, among others.
This obviously raises an important question: if the Green Lantern cover was just an alternate, why was DC so enthusiastic about the other food-related covers all the way back in June? It doesn’t make sense for them to suddenly switch back to Molina’s original illustration days before the issue was set to hit the shelves if they weren’t fully prepared to #ReleaseTheTamaleCut. The tamale cover even had a barcode on it already!
If, and it’s a big if, DC was only working through “part of its internal creative process” that involves receiving and developing “multiple versions of comic artwork from our artists,” as they said to the Express-News, why were these food-based covers even in the running, let alone posted on social media? It shouldn’t take national backlash to know this was a bad idea.
Whatever the case may be, DC has hopefully learned a valuable lesson: maybe stop equating Latinos with food. It has literally never worked once and the fact that it still happens on a regular basis is utterly insane. In the meantime, these memes are pretty great.