By Steven Turner-Parker
On Friday, Mar. 1, the Latinx American Cultural Center hosted graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez for a talk about La Borinqueña, a comic book series he created that features one of the few Afro-Latina superheroes.
La Borinqueña stars Marisol Rios De La Luz, a Nuyorican (New York-born Puerto Rican) and Columbia University student who studies abroad for a semester at the University of Puerto Rico. While there, she explores the caves on the island and finds five crystals, all of which give La Luz individual powers such as superhuman strength, the power of flight, and control of the storms. With her newfound powers, La Luz adopts the superhero name La Borinquena, inspired by Puerto Rico’s national anthem, and works alongside the community to create social change.
As students walked into the LACC, they were greeted with a Puerto Rican flag and the alluring smell of Puerto Rican food prior to the talk. Later during his speech, Miranda-Rodriguez talked about the reasoning for hanging up the flag and serving food was to bring a home feeling to the event.
For those who came to the event on time they were greeted by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez and handed free copies of a La Borinqueña comic book titled “Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico.”
In that issue, La Borinqueña teamed up with some of the most iconic heroes from DC Comics—Superman, Batman, the Flash and Wonder Woman—in short stories that explored the beautiful history of Puerto Rico as well as tales that envision a stronger and rebuilt island post-Hurricane Maria.
Before this issue of La Borinqueña, “Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico,” these comic book heroes never step foot on Puerto Rico, so it took an independently-owned original character to get these superheroes to come to the island.
The event not only focused on La Borinqueña, but touched on the current socio-political issues related to Puerto Rico and Miranda-Rodriguez’s overall journey in creating the comic book.
“As a woman that identifies as Boricua hearing about this comic book, it is very exciting,” said Emely Betancourt, a public health sciences student and one of the event attendees. “To be able to see my island being represented in this way is amazing. Especially after the hurricane.”
Miranda-Rodriguez knows that he didn’t make the first Afro-Latina superhero but what he does believe is that he made a character that wears her culture on her heart.