Move Over, Wonder Woman — This Afro-Puerto Rican Superhero Is The Ultimate Feminist Icon

“She is my hero and represents the power we have as a people.”

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, a self-described artsy nerd from the South Bronx, never imagined that the Afro-Puerto Rican pacifist character he first self-published only a little more than a year ago would emerge as one of the comic book world’s most realistic feminist super-heroes. La Borinqueña officially debuted at New York City’s Puerto Rican Day Parade in June 2016. Since then, both the character and the comic book have become something bigger and more meaningful than their creator could have dreamed, especially as Puerto Rico weathers two onslaughts from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, school closings, and an economic crisis.

“The mainstream publishing and comic book industry, after decades, is finally recognizing the power of people of color. An audience that they [producers and studios] think doesn’t go to movies, but then ‘Wonder Woman’ kills it in the box office, they’re like, ‘Oh, shit, we better get more women superheroes,”’ Miranda-Rodriguez says. Now 47, he says he’s been reading comic books since he was 7 years old.

He started buying them using money he made from collecting bottles and cans. Even though, he says, none of the characters represented his culture, looked like him, or were ever on the cover of the books.

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Photo by Kyung Jeon Miranda.

“La Borinqueña was initially created because I was upset about the humanitarian issues surrounding Puerto Rico — from the economy to the environmental issues that continue to affect the island. I thought maybe if I create this superhero, she can be a conduit to connect Puerto Rico with the rest of the world,” Miranda-Rodriguez says.

La Borinqueña’s story is that she’s a Columbia University student named Marisol Rios De La Luz. She studies environmental science and has an interest in activism. While on a trip to Puerto Rico to visit family, a Taino goddess, Atabey, and her twin sons grant her superpowers of flight and the ability to harness weather. Miranda-Rodriguez says the character initially looks at her visit home to Puerto Rico as an extension of her thesis, but she ends up discovering the damage gentrification has on the environment and the people living on the island, and it inspires her to come to its aid.

Named after Puerto Rico’s anthem, La Borinqueña uses her superhuman powers to control the weather and to protect people, animals, and the island from supernatural dangers — as only a pacifist superhero can.

“She’s meant to unite and bring people together. The women in my life didn’t resort to violence to make change happen. If she did anything other than that, she’d be perceived as weapon of mass destruction, a terrorist. She’d be considered a threat, like the nationalist movement has always been perceived in Puerto Rico,” he says.

La Borinqueña is intentionally drawn as an Afro-Latina beauty with chocolate skin, an average body size, and a mane of ebony curls. Miranda-Rodriguez says her looks have resonated with women readers.

Excerpt from Issue 1.

“I want to celebrate diversity within the Puerto Rican community, and there’s been an outpouring of support. I felt for too long there’s been a negative portrayal of our African culture, with too many anti-black messages. This character is my attempt to undo a lot of that … [down to] the way I had her drawn by my artists as a full-figured woman, versus a character who’s over six feet tall with a size six waist. There’s an underrepresentation of women drawn with realistic proportions, particularly in comic books,” Miranda-Rodriguez says.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]She’s meant to unite and bring people together. The women in my life didn’t resort to violence to make change happen.[/quote]

As for the character being a woman, Miranda-Rodriguez says it’s been the women in his life who’ve saved him and mentored him. “When I think of Puerto Rico, she’s always been a woman to me,” he says.

Miranda-Rodriguez also writes for Marvel Comics and is the founder of Somos Arte (“We are art”), located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He’s the editor-in-chief of DMC Comics, the imprint started by Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels.

He says his hope for La Borinqueña is that she continues to open a portal connecting the world with what’s happening in Puerto Rico and that more and more readers will relate to her story.

“Mainstream media doesn’t think there’s universality in a woman of color’s story. We [people of color] find universal traits in every narrative we read, even when they don’t look like us or represent us. We are drawn to La Borinqueña, and we finally have a character who looks like us. Just as so many readers relate to the narrative of a young English boy studying wizardry, she is my hero and represents the power we have as a people,” he says.

Miranda-Rodriguez’s second “La Borinqueña” comic book is due out in December.

AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less