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.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet