Skip to main content

In Search of the Greatest Latino Superhero, Part One (Opinion)


Ok, quickly name the greatest Latino superhero you can think of. Can you think of one? Two? If you're an avid comic book fan you might have said Vibe or The Question or Blue Beetle or maybe the new Ghost Rider. How many do you think the general public can name? The answer is probably zero. Zorro maybe if you're lucky. In this age of comic books and comic book adaptations, the call for diversity has never been greater. Yet, the elephant in the room for me has been the lack of a frontline Latino superhero that has transcended the page and into the public consciousness. Despite making some inroads with Latino characters in comic books the quest for the greatest superhero is a false prophecy. 

Ok, I admit that sounds dire and hopeless but in looking for where Latino heroes stand in the face of over 75 years of comic books the result is very disappointing. I searched online for lists of the greatest superheroes, and yes I know these are subjective, not one list featured a Latino hero, male or female, in the top 100. I wanted to gauge if the thought of the aforementioned heroes ever crossed the minds of multiple geek sites when making such lists. After all, they'd be the authority on years and years of caped crusaders. So what does that say about Latino heroes if not a single one was considered worthy enough, memorable enough, important enough to include among the top 100 of all time?

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Avengers, Justice Leaguers, X-Men, all filled the top slots and rightfully so but when it comes to characters of color they are sparsely represented. Thankfully, Black and African characters make the cut with Storm, Black Panther, John Stewart, and Spawn. Not a lot to crow about but at least it isn't a complete white out. But why does it matter at all? Why is representation important?

Growing up I'd tie a bath towel around my neck and pretend I was the Mexican-American Superman. It never dawned on me that I couldn't be Superman. Why not me? Sure, Clark Kent never had a Latino friend or co-worker but I had a hell of an imagination. You get accustomed to not seeing someone like yourself in pop culture. Well, you do but in the absolute worst ways. I saw more than enough maids, gardeners, and gangbangers, many with thick accents represented on television. That in and of itself isn't the tragedy but not seeing a lawyer, a doctor, or a business owner to counter-balance the stereotype was frustrating. 

In real life, I was surrounded by people of all shades - white, black, Latino and Asian. In this alternate universe of TV and comics non-whites barely existed at all. Didn't these creators live in the same world I did? Couldn't they see the landscape as well as me? When you don't see people like you, it is clear you're being overlooked and undervalued. Not only do characters of color don't matter neither do the viewers/readers of color. At least that's the impression given when nary an effort is made to reflect the real world and pander solely to a white audience. 

This is why it breaks my heart to know Latino kids don't have a hero to call their own. That's not to say you can't be a big Batman or Spidey fan, but you've never really been given a choice or a voice. Two things have helped raise awareness of such discrepancies in diversity - population growth and the internet. 

In California where I live, Latinos have become the majority and Asians aren't too far behind. The world continues to change. Increasingly pop culture will have to mirror this change. First and second generation Latinos are old enough to affect change with their wallets and their presence. There is a huge customer base to draw from if you value what they represent. This includes recognizing that they exist in places like Gotham City, Metropolis, or Avengers Tower.

With the advent of social media, people of color aren't staying quiet or settling anymore for more of the same in comics. The call for diversity in comics has become a daily cry online, on Twitter and Tumblr in particular. The activism finds plenty of fuel from the comic book industry itself. Every time a character of color gets his or her own book, but the creative team doesn't reflect  that same diversity it will be talked about. Every time a comic book professional answers the question of diversity in a comic with "do aliens count?" it will be mentioned. Every time a convention panel on diversity consists of only white panelists it will be ridiculed no matter how well-meaning it was. 

It's not about complaining it's about letting the powers at be, know that we won't be silent and that these things are unacceptable. We'll no longer stand idly by as cultures are appropriated, ignored or stereotyped. It's time to hold people accountable and educate the ignorant.We have no choice but to keep asking questions and demanding answers. For people of color including Latinos, the campaign for inclusion and diversity has just begun.

-------------------------

Part Two will cover a brief history of Latino superheroes thus far and what we're looking for in the next one. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

WONDER WOMAN OF THE DAY: Fitness Model Gia Macool Embodies the Amazon Princess

The closest we'll ever get, probably, to superheroes in real life is through the great work of cosplayers. You see them at every pop culture convention from the very basic to extremely elaborate costume design. However, you don't have to be a cosplayer to enjoy dressing up as your favorite superhero from time to time. Take fitness model and entrepreneur Gia Macool for example. An accomplished fitness competitor and model, Macool is also a big fan of DC Comics' Wonder Woman. She shows her love of the iconic Amazon Princess in her fitness wear, meal prep accessories and even a full blown photo shoot in a Wonder Woman costume. 

For decades comics have featured very muscular superheroes, male and female, epitomizing the human form at its strongest. So when bodybuilders and fitness pros decide to suit up as these costumed heroes, they are the embodiment of those fictional characters in the flesh. Macool looks like she stepped out of the pages of a Wonder Woman comic with a suit …

An Artist Will Get His Revenge in The Post-WWII Original Graphic Novel SIMON SAYS

Image Comics announces an all-new, original graphic novel Simon Says by Andre R. Frattino and Jesse Lee which will paint a post-World War II Europe in a scarlet shade of revenge this September.


Simon Says is a drama-filled, crime noir story that follows a former artist to the Führer who hunts down and seeks justice upon the Nazis he witnessed murder his friends and loved ones during the war. It is an original graphic novel inspired by true events and by a real-world Holocaust survivor, Simon Wiesenthal, an artist who lost his family and took justice into his own hands.
"Simon Says is about an innocent and gentleman, an artist, whose family and life are destroyed by a real-world event. Not something sci-fi or fanciful, but something that has happened and could happen again. In that way, it's the story of any of us, and how we would respond if who we were and what we had were lost,” said Frattino. "The real-life, famed Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, was quoted as once sayin…

Fitness Women in Superhero Body Paint by J.M. Manion

J.M. Manion has long been a successful photographer covering the fitness and bodybuilding industry. He has photographed some of the strongest, well-defined physiques on the planet. He's also had a love of super-heroes and comic books. So much so that Manion began publishing his own comic book, Iron Siren Comics, featuring some of the fitness competitors he's covered as superheroes themselves. It's no wonder he sometimes incorporates superhero cosplay and body paint into photo shoots. Here are just some examples of his work:

INTERVIEW: Spencer & Locke’s David Pepose and Jorge Santiago, Jr. Talk Sequel, Film Adaptation and More

Suspended by Internal Affairs, Detective Locke grapples with the demons of his past alongside his trusty partner, his childhood imaginary panther Spencer. But when Spencer and Locke face a scarred soldier named Roach Riley, will this unlikely pair finally meet their match?




When 'Spencer and Locke' first launched back in 2017, it was a curious novelty at first blush. The premise of "what if Calvin and Hobbes grew up in Sin City" was cute and ambitious but how could it possibly live up to the beloved comic strip with the hard edge of Frank Miller's classic? The result was a triumph that proved to be more thoughtful and impactful than expected. The combination of a hard-boiled detective story told through the lens of PTSD while paying homage to some revered properties proved to be masterful in both execution and style. David Pepose and Santiago, Jr., had found the heart and soul of the story in real emotion while being an entertaining crime drama.

With its success a…

Here's the Dickon Tarly You Didn't See on 'Games of Thrones'

Ever since Tom Hopper stepped in for Freddie Stroma on this season's Game of Thrones as Dickon Tarly, preferred son of Lord Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner), he's made quite the impression and not just for the character's funny phallic name.
*Possible spoilers ahead if you haven't seen 'Game of Thrones' Season 7, Episode 5, "Eastwatch"
We've barely gotten to know him only that's he the dutiful and loyal son to crusty old Randyll and he's got a name that makes Ser Bronn (Jerome Flynn) chuckle (and us too). The strapping neophyte on the battlefield seemed ready to break out on the show when this week his loyalty to his father led to some dire consequences. 
Conquered by Daenerys’s army and dragon, Dickon, Randyll and their fellow vanquished men stood before her. She gave them a simple choice join her or die. Too proud to bend the knee, Randyll chose to die instead of following Dany who he didn't consider his queen. So far so good. Then cli…