“The very DNA of my existence comes from my Puerto Rican identity,” Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez told The Washington Post when discussing his new superhero character, La Borinqueña. And seeing the art director’s body of work, it’s obvious that he takes any chance he can to rep his PR roots. Go on his website, and you’ll be greeted with Puerto Rican flags. Check out his debut issue for Marvel, Guardians of Infinity #3, and you’ll see Puerto Rico’s past. He and business partner Darryl “DMC” McDaniels (of Run DMC) imagined a conflict between characters Thing, a.k.a Benjamin Grimm, and Groot. And though there’s not really anything in The Guardians universe that speaks to our Latinidad, Miranda-Rodriguez found a link through the Ceiba tree he grew up seeing in Puerto Rico and the alien, tree-like Groot.
Just three months later, Miranda-Rodriguez’s latest project is another love letter to La Isla de Encanto. Teaming up with the organizers of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, he’s created a superhero for the event. “I pitched it to the parade and said: ‘What if we did an original comic book, and it was a collaboration between my studio [Somos Arte] and the parade?’ And they loved it,” he said. “It was something that had never been done before.”
And that’s how La Borinqueña came to be – at least in our world. In her own world, Marisol Rios De La Luz is a New York-born Afro Boricua enrolled in Columbia University’s Earth and Environmental Sciences program as an undergraduate student. For one semester, she studies abroad at the University of Puerto Rico, where throwing herself into her work, she explored five caves: Ventana, La Cueva del Indio, Las Cuevas de Camuy, La Cueva del Viento, and the caves at the Julio Enrique Monagas National Park. In each cave she finds a quartz crystal, and when she puts them together, she’s infused with powers and becomes La Borinqueña.
Though she has superhuman strength, can control the wind and can fly, she’s not fighting crime. La Borinqueña – whose name comes from PR’s national anthem – is out there amplifying the voice of Puerto Ricans. She protects the island. “This comic book that I’m writing with my team is not going to solve the debt crisis in Puerto rico, but it’s going to open the dialogue in a way that can be accepted and understood by a larger audience that will absorb it, learn from it, and also take action from it,” Edgardo said.
Though Edgardo came up with the concept, the comic book – which is in the works now – is a group effort. Miranda-Rodriguez’s teamed up with Emilio Lopez, Juan Fernandez, former Remezcla editor Matt Barbot, and penciler/inker Elliot Fernandez.
La Borinqueña will make her debut at the Puerto Rican Day Parade in the summer, but the comic book will come in the fall at an event held at the CUNY East Harlem campus (a Puerto Rican neighborhood), which is fitting, because for Miranda-Rodriguez it’s all Puerto Rico, everything.