We are continuing to see a greater push for representation of diverse stories in the media and we’re excited to see that now we have a new bi-ethnic superhero. Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez started the graphic novel series La Borinqueña in 2016 as a direct response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and now he’s celebrating diverse stories with the introduction of Luz, a new Chinese-Dominican character. He recently released the third issue of his independently published graphic novel, also introducing readers to a new superhero team known as The Nitainos, as well as Luz. Readers meet her as a young woman plastering posters of La Borinqueña throughout San Juan, Puerto Rico saying how at home she feels on the island.
The Chinese-Dominican character La La Liu first debuted in 2016 at the Smithsonian Asian-Pacific American Center’s pop-up exhibition CTRL+ALT in New York City’s Chinatown and in the original comic book commissioned by the Smithsonian. Now, thanks to Miranda-Rodriguez she makes her return as Luz and with her a new superhero team, The Nitainos, an expansion of the La Borinqueña universe.
“As a graphic novelist and publisher of my own series, I take representation very seriously. These characters will not only speak to our experience as Latinx but will represent aspects of ourselves that oftentimes is underrepresented. Therefore, the spectrum of superheroes I’ll be creating represents familiarity to us, but something diverse to the world at large,” Miranda-Rodriguez tells HipLatina.
The character also has a personal origin, inspired by his partner, Kyung Jeon-Miranda who is Korean-American and they have taken to describing their son as “Koricua.” Together they run their studio, Somos Arte, and she’s the director of their grants program which has awarded $165,000 to grant programs in PR in the past three years. “She is Asian, but through our son and our philanthropic work she has a connection to Puerto Rico and Latin culture.”
But it was also inspired by the long-standing Asian presence in Latin America and specifically in the Dominican Republic where genealogical testing in 2012 found the average Dominican is 58 percent European, 35 percent Sub-Saharan African, and 7 percent Asian-Native American, according to World Population Review. There are currently more than four million Asian Latin Americans, which make up nearly 1 percent of Latin America’s population.”It’s important that characters are introduced in storylines that reflect our truly diverse Latinx heritage,” Miranda-Rodriguez said.
The third issue wraps up a story arc that spanned five years and there will be three variant covers commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Puerto Rican flag featuring art by Ana Teresa Rivera Fuentes, a Puerto Rican illustrator. This conclusion is truly a celebration of Puerto Rican culture and Miranda-Rodriguez shares that he’s been planting seeds for this story since the graphic novel’s debut in 2016.
And much like the character of Luz, The Nitainos, made up of mostly women and led by La Borinqueña, were inspired by the women in his life. He was raised by a single mother along with his tia and madrina and he credits them with shaping him to be the man, husband, father, and storyteller he is today. It’s also a reflection of the strong women of Puerto Rico including the women’s activism collective La Colectiva Feminista en Construcción that led protests in San Juan as well as independent journalist Sandra Rodriguez Cotto who wrote about the corruption of Puerto Rico’s former governor Ricardo Rosselló. So this latest issue is not only a conclusion, but also a beginning of sorts with these new characters that fight for the core values of the series including social justice and climate change.
“In an era that challenges systemic racism and celebrates narratives around BIPOC, I celebrate love and diversity with our Afro-Puerto Rican and our Asian-Latinx superheroes.”
The latest issue of La Borinqueña, including all three covers, is available online, ranging from $24.99 – $29.99.