BY AMANDA MOSES
Comic book heroes have been flooding the mainstream media for several years, especially since the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Each of these caped crusaders has an origin story. Some are from a different realm exploring ancient Nordic history like the mythical Thor and his devious brother Loki; while other heroes were developed because of a need during that era, like Captain America. This all American hero was created by cartoonists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during World War II to stir patriotic sentiment (famously in the first comic he was drawn punching Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, which sold over one million copies in 1941.)
Following in the footsteps of Captain America, there have been numerous superhero stories that use their platform to highlight social and economic issues. Even the latest film that debuted earlier this month, Joker underscores topics on mental illness, the lack of support programs available, and the plight of impoverished individuals living in a wealthy city.
Comic aficionado and graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez observed the attention of these blockbuster hits and decided to use his platform as a conduit to address issues facing Puerto Rico. Miranda-Rodriguez created La Borinqueña, a fictional character whose alter ego is Marisol Rios De La Luz. To her friends and family, Marisol is known as an ordinary student at Columbia living with her parents in Williamsburg but to others she is a hero with superhuman strength, the power of flight and the ability to control storms.
Marisol Rios De La Luz gained her powers during a study abroad trip to Puerto Rico, where she stumbled upon a cave filled with Taino (the indigenous people who inhabited many Caribbean islands before colonization) artifacts. She finds five crystals that invoke the spirit of Atabex, the Taino mother goddess. This spirit summons her sons: Yúcahu, spirt of the seas and mountains and Juracan, spirit of the hurricanes bestowing her super powers.
Miranda-Rodriguez included topics on climate change, discrimination, the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, all through the lens of a young student who is learning about herself and the world around her. After creating La Borinqueña, he teamed up with DC Universe to create a self-published anthology entitled, Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico, which features Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman and other DC heroes working with La Borinqueña. Miranda-Rodriguez then used the money earned from this anthology to raise a quarter of a million dollars for the La Borinqueña Grants Program (a philanthropic effort to distribute funds to organizations in Puerto Rico).
The creation of La Borinqueña came to Miranda-Rodriguez when he saw the devastation of Hurricane Maria to the island of Puerto Rico and other social/economic issues that the small Common Wealth continues to face. His efforts to spread awareness and give back to Puerto Rico earned him the San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award.
Photos courtesy of Amanda Moses