The importance of positive representation has come to the forefront as women and people of color demand space in every industry. But in the world of comics, it has been notoriously difficult for people of color and women to make their presence felt, which lends itself to a larger conversation about why certain people are not considered “heroes” in the first place. The success of the Wonder Woman movie and Netflix shows like Jessica Jones prove that women are hungry to see themselves kicking ass on screen. However, Black and Brown girls are still waiting for our heroes to present themselves in major TV shows and film franchises so lots of us have dreamt up heroes in our own image. The creators of Aza Comics created an entire universe of inclusive multifaceted women and there is currently a crowdfunding campaign for a powerful female hero called “Jalisco,” who fights crime using folklorico dance.
But Latina superheroes have been around way longer than most of us realize! Here are 20 of the Latina heroes (and villains) you never knew you were rooting for.
1. Green Fury/Green Flame/Fire (Beatriz da Costa/Beatriz Bonilla da Costa) 1979
Beatriz da Costa was originally the president of the Brazilian branch of Wayne Enterprises and got her powers due to Brazilian mysticism. Her abilities included the power to exhale mystical green fire, fly, project hallucinations and alter her clothing at will. She was originally a part of the Super Friends but eventually her history was altered and she was renamed Beatriz Bonilla da Costa. She started as an amateur model on the beaches of Rio and a showgirl eventually finding herself as an agent for the Brazilian government. She assumed the identity of the Green Fury, and then soon changed it again to Green Flame. She joined the international superhero team the Global Guardians, and eventually, changed her heroic name again, this time to Fire. Her appearances in the “Justice League Unlimited” and “Batman: Brave and the Bold” cartoons have also introduced her to a broader audience. She became a glamorous superhero, but Fire’s violent past, love for danger and exhibitionist character make her a complex, interesting presence in Justice League history.
2. Firebird (Bonita Juarez) 1981
Bonita is a devout Roman Catholic born in Taos, New Mexico. She came into contact with a radioactive meteorite fragments while walking in the deserts of Albuquerque. The radiation altered her DNA giving her the power to generate flames, heat, and fly. Since she believed her gifts came from God she assumed the name Firebird and donned a costume. She has appeared several times in the West Coast Avengers title and has appeared in several Avengers-related storylines.
3. Wildcat II (Yolanda Montez) 1985
While pregnant, Yolanda’s mother and her sister were given experimental drugs by the mad gynecologist Dr. Benjamin Love. The Doctor keeps a close eye on them but loses track of the sisters when they travel to Mexico where the sisters eventually give birth on the same day. When Yolanda and her mother return to America she manifests her superhuman powers, but is unaware of why she was born a mutant. Her godfather is Ted Grant aka the original Wildcat who operated during the 1940s. When Grant is crippled while saving a child Yolanda steps in and assumes his identity to honor him.
4. Touch-N-Go (Amelinda Lopez) 1986
A young street thief living in Chicago, Illinois, Amelinda Lopez was struck by a truck while committing a robbery and was more dead than alive until she was subjected to Promethium (radioactive chemical). Touch-N-Go can temporarily steal the kinetic energy of anyone she touches. She is described as brash, irresponsible, self-centered, aggressive fighter who taunts her opponents.
5. Pantha (Rosabelle Mendez) 1991
Rosabelle Mendez was a cat-like member of one of the incarnations of the Teen Titans. During her time with the Titans she had no knowledge as to her origins, which lead her on many dead end missions investigating her past. Her hybrid human/animal physiology gave her superhuman strength, speed, and agility, as well as heightened hearing, smelling, and night-vision, enhanced reflexes, and retractable claws on her hands and feet.
6. Cybersix (Adrian Seidelman) 1992
Argentine character Cybersix or Cyber-6, lives in the fictional city of Meridiana where she disguises herself as a male high school literature teacher by day and battles the biological weapons made by her creator–Doctor Von Reichter who hunts her with his clone-son, José– by night. Dr. Von Reichter created five thousand Cybers but he killed them all when they started to rebel against him, Cybersix was the lone survivor. The leather-clad genetically-engineered gender bending superhero was also the subject of live action TV series in the 90’s and again in an animated series in 1999.
7. The Question (Renee Montoya) 1992
Renee Montoya was a popular crime fighting cop in the Batman stories. She’s a complex character who spirals into alcoholism and depression after Two-Face outs her as a lesbian and frames her for murder. She eventually remakes herself as the street fighting super hero The Question as she tried to rebuild her life. In DC Comics’ New 52 relaunch her history was rebooted and she reverted back to being a police officer.
8. Jessica Cruz (Green Lantern) 1994
Jessica Cruz has become one of the most important members of the Green Lantern Corps. Her story begins when her friends are murdered by gangsters when they accidentally interrupt them burying a body. Jessica is the only one who escapes with her life and as a result she develops debilitating anxiety from the trauma, locking herself in her room for four years. She gets her powers when the Ring of Volthoom takes over her body. Under its influence she attacks her home town and is confronted by the Justice League and Doom Patrol. Batman helps her overcome the ring’s influence and eventually the Original Green Lantern helps Jessica learn to maintain dominion over her ring.
9. Risque (Gloria Dolores Muñoz) 1996
Gloria left her Cuban father and Seminole mother after they divorced and started living on her own in Miami when she was 16. When her powers manifested she began calling herself Risque. She joined Charles Xavier’s X-Corporation to protect the rights of mutants internationally and was based in Hong Kong.
10. Dr. Cecilia Reyes 1997
Cecilia was mutant child born into a poor Puerto Rican family in a lower income neighborhood. Her story starts when she witnessed her father’s murder at six years old. She vows to one day avenge her father’s death, deciding to become a doctor so that she could help people. Cecilia fights her way out of the hood and into medical school, eventually doing her residency at Our Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Bronx – all the while keeping her mutant powers a secret. Her powers allow her to generate a psioplasmic bio-field that she can also use it as a weapon. But unlike most X-Men, she just wants to live a normal life even though she forced onto the X-Men team by circumstance. Her greatest challenge is accepting herself for who she is.
11. Echo (Maya Lopez) 1999
Maya Lopez is a deaf indigenous superhero who was created as the female counterpart to deaf superhero Daredevil. Her father was a mob enforcer who is murdered by his boss and in a twist of fate Maya is taken in by the same man who ordered her father killed, Wilson Fisk. Impressed with her talents, Fisk sends her to the best schools and she becomes a talented pianist. Echo’s powers include photographic reflexes and as a result she is capable of perfectly duplicating any physical movement or action she sees after watching it only once. Fisk uses her against Daredevil but eventually Echo joins the fight against evil. Her alter ego is Ronin, a member of the New Avengers, whose identity and gender are concealed.
12. Menagerie (Pamela & Sonja) 2001 & 2004
The first Menagerie was a Puerto Rican woman named Pamela (last name surname unknown). The origins of her powers are unclear but it is thought that rogue Men in Black (from the Department of Extranormal Operations) used to picked up the dregs of society and turn them into weapons to be sold to the highest alien bidder. Pam joined The Elite– a team of metahuman vigilantes who are known for their brutality and violent tactics. They go up against Superman and lose, obviously. Menagerie is put into a vegetative state by the leader of The Elite for revealing to Superman that the members of her team are acting against their will.
Sonja (Pam’s sister) inherits Pam’s position and when the leader of The Elite dies, his sister Vera Lynn Black decided to clear the family name by reassembling the Elite as a force for good. Sonja’s hatred of the Elite and Vera’s brother is blinding so she’s joins the group with the intention of destroying it. Both sisters have control over tiny alien parasites called “symbeasts,” which are microscopic bugs that crawl along her body in order to form different shapes or weapons, they can also project energy and have acidic blood.
13. Anya Corazón (Spider-Girl) 2004
Anya Sofía Corazón aka Araña is a 17-year-old gymnast from Brooklyn whose father Gilberto Corazon was an investigative reporter. Gilberto brought her from Mexico to the United States after her mother was killed. She got her powers when a sorcerer transferred some of his power to her to save her life. After the encounter she found that she had a spider-shaped tattoo along with enhanced strength, agility, and the power to grow a blue exoskeleton. She joined the Spider Society as their Hunter and began working as an intern at WebCorps, the company the Society used to hide its actions. She’s a trained spy and hacker.
14. Aquagirl (Lorena Marquez) 2004
San Diegan Lorena Marquez’s origin story could be right out of the headlines! While she was on a date at the San Diego Zoo an earthquake causes San Diego to sink into the sea, killing thousands—including Lorena’s entire family. Aquaman finds her and nurses her back to health as she discovers that she has developed the ability to breathe underwater. Together they manage to find all the other survivors as well as the scientist responsible for the catastrophe. Lorena and Aquaman then begin rebuilding the city that will be known as “Sub Diego.” When Ocean Master switches lives with Aquaman, Lorena assumes the identity of Aquagirl and then continues to protect the city of Sub Diego.
15. Tarantula (Maria Vasquez) 2006
María is the fourth and current superhuman known as Tarántula. She is highly intelligent in biology and engineering as well as an accomplished martial artist. She became a superhero to avenge her sister who was killed in the Stamford Explosion do the dismay of her father who wished she would become a doctor or a lawyer… sounds familiar. Tarantula is characterized by her bad attitude, she enjoys inflicting pain often licking enemy blood off her blade. If she’s instructed not to kill she will seriously injure her opponent to the annoyance of her teammates. When her father is killed by ninjas she takes it upon herself to kill every single one by herself.
16. Scream (Donna Diego) 2012
Little has been revealed about Diego’s early life other than that she has a history of psychotic episodes. She became a security guard for the Life Foundation’s whose scientists merged with Venom’s symbiote “seed” creatures with five of their most skilled and trusted employees– Donna being one of them. The symbiote causes her to be evil and when she is eventually able to control its impulses she begins seeking out others like her helping human hosts to cope with their symbiotes to make up for her past behavior.
17. America Chavez (Miss America) 2011
America Chavez is Marvel’s only running female-led queer solo title. She’s an inter-dimensional teenage traveler. She’s been a member of the Young Avengers, A-Force, the Ultimates, and belongs to a younger generation of heroes who will potentially be the stars of Marvel stories in the future. She was raised in another dimension by two superpowered mothers and gained her powers as a little girl from a magical entity on her home planet. Chavez’s mothers sacrificed themselves to save their dimension when it was threatened by black holes sending Chavez across dimensions to get away from her home. Her abilities include flight, super strength, extreme durability and the power to create portals.
18. White Tiger (Ava Ayala And Angela del Toro) | Marvel Comics 2011
The White Tiger persona has been adopted by several characters in the Marvel Universe– the first White Tiger was Hector Ayala, a street level crime fighter in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also the first Puerto Rican superheroes in comics. A person becomes the White Tiger via the powers of a mystic amulet, which enhances the body to superhuman levels. The most known are the Ayala siblings and Angela del Toro who is rumored to be having a Netflix series in the works).
Ava Ayala is represented as being either the daughter or the sister of Hector Alaya, he started a multigenerational legacy where several people, mostly relatives, have adopted the White Tiger name. Hector gave up the superhero life after Gideon Mace murdered most of his family. He raised his niece Angela and she grew up in the company of his friends, including “Uncle Danny,” aka Iron Fist. She eventually became an FBI agent when she was old enough and eventually becomes a crime fighting vigilante when her uncle is killed by the evil organization The Hand.
19. Lady Deathstrike (Ana Cortes) 2014
Ana Cortés is the Colombian heiress of the Cortés Syndicate, she inherited the company after her father’s death at age At age 18. Lady Deathstrike is the character similar to Wolverine with long sword nails, Ana hires Reiko (a Japanese assassin) to put Lady Deathstrike’s consciousness in her body. With Lady Deathstrike inside of her Ana forms a new Sisterhood of Mutants and when being evil makes her question her life she tells the X-Men where to find the Sisterhood and commits suicide.
20. Slingshot (Yo-Yo Rodriguez) 2017
Yo-Yo Rodriguez is a Puerto Rican born superhero and daughter of known super-criminal John Horton, better known as the Griffin. She has the ability to run at superhuman speed. On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it’s described that she was able to move faster than a human heartbeat. Yo-Yo has both of her arms cut off but is eventually able to regain dexterity with prosthetics.