Puerto Rico and Brooklyn finally have the hero they’ve been waiting for.
Fourty-six-year-old artist and Williamsburg resident Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez broke into the comic book industry this year as a writer and many comic enthusiasts and Latinos alike are thrilled that he did.
Miranda-Rodriguez, who has been a well established art director running his own design studio for the last 16 years, just released the first issue of La Borinqueña. The comic features a superhero named Marisol Rios La Luz, a Columbia University student who lives in Brooklyn and whose powers originate from history and mysticism found on Puerto Rico.
Miranda-Rodriguez, who wrote, lettered and art-directed the issue, got his start and inspiration for the character with comics at Marvel, where he created an original character, Abuela Estela in a short story in Guardians of Infinity No. 3.
“Given the initial response that I received from my debut with Marvel and the character, I realized at that point that there was a demand for something much more powerful, with a stronger presence for the Puerto Rican and Latino community,” said Miranda-Rodriguez, who self funded the comic. “Not just a background character, but one that would have her own title, series, and story. I was inspired to create that.”
After he completed the short story, Mrianda-Rodriguez started to receive a lot of attention. “I was at [Manhattan comic book shop] Forbidden Planet with my wife and she was a taking a picture of me holding the comic in my hand because I was having my geek moment,” he said. “Then it was on a Puerto Rican magazine and newspapers and sites.”
La Borinqueña receives the superhuman strength and the power of nature after taking a trip to Puerto Rico, finding five similar sized crystals, and encountering Atabex — the Taíno mother goddess — who summons her sons Yúcahu, spirt of the seas and mountains and Juracan, spirit of the hurricanes.
It was important for Miranda-Rodriguez to create an origin story that speaks to the Latino community. “I created an origin that was rooted in Taíno history so it was rooted in our very own mythology,” he said. “The story we worked on is something I’m very proud of, something that reflects my family experience and experience of many Puerto Ricans and I think that’s why its resonating so well with young people.”
Miranda-Rodriguez was inspired to write the comic for several reasons. One of them involved the recent happenings on the island.
“Given what was happening in Puerto Rico with the current death crisis, environmental issues affecting the island, most recently everything happening in Penuelas with the dumping of toxic ashes to Zika and even the massacre that occurred in the nightclub in Orlando, I saw an opportunity to create a character that would resonate on a broader scale than just an actual character,” he said.
He also wanted to give a louder voice to a culture.
“All the characters that we enjoy and see in the movies and comic books are corporate brands and I thought there was a need to create a character that was actually bigger than that actual brand and actually represented a nation that is underrepresented,” he said. “I was frustrated with the fact that for so long, people of color, especially Latinos, were invisible. I’m tired of us as Latinos acclimating to the mainstream culture. My good friend [actor] John Leguizamo said it best, all we do as Latinos is constantly explain ourselves and anglicize ourselves.”
So far, attention and sales for the first issue and merchandise has been impressive. “I’ve been overwhelmed,” he said. “In social media, women are overwhelmingly coming on in full force to support this project. Oftentimes, they’re saying this is the first time im going to buy a comic book. Many are even saying that they look just like me. They’re not invisible anymore.”
To purchase the first issue of La Borinqueña, or to shop its merchandise, visit visit www.laborinquena.somosarte.com.