Another blackout shakes Puerto Rico and La Borinqueña with Rosario Dawson arrives in time to fight back

Photo courtesy of Facebook @LaBorinquenaComics

La Borinqueña is back in the headlines – and, might I add, just in time.

“La Borinqueña with Rosario Dawson,which released internationally this week on April 6, is a graphic novel that speaks to the importance of a clean energy transition in Puerto Rico.

If we’re being honest, what the island is depending on right now is not sustainable.

In fact, as of this writing, Puerto Rico is currently facing another breakdown Where apagón where an estimated 350,000 Puerto Ricans were left without power. This was all due to a fire at one of Puerto Rico’s largest power plants.

Puerto Rico’s government said he would be reinstated in 24 hours. So now we can only wait for LUMA, the island’s national energy provider, to live up to those expectations.

Nevertheless, “La Borinqueña with Rosario Dawson” will give more people the chance to meet a Latino superhero; one that proudly wears its Puerto Rican roots, while highlighting issues relevant to its community.

This is partly the reason why La Borinquena amassed so much success in such a short time; it touches on tangible points for humanity. Unlike other mainstream superhero media content that focuses on the supernatural, she does the mortal combat just like we humans do in our day-to-day lives – but with superpowers.

Identity as a superpower

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, author and creator of “La Borinqueña Starring Rosario Dawson,” told BELatina in a recent conversation that the way the “La Borinqueña” franchise exploded seemed to come out of nowhere.

His passion begins with his identity, which translates into the characters he created for “La Borinqueña”.

Miranda-Rodriguez, whose lively voice echoed through the other end of my phone’s speakerphone, introduced himself with his full name. “Edgardo Miranda,” he said, rolling his wheels far enough to reach the cerulean blue beaches of Culebra, Puerto Rico.

Raised by a single Puerto Rican mother in New York, Miranda recalls the difficulties he faced early on. From extreme poverty to fleeing arson, it was a difficult time to grow up in New York, especially as people of color were aggressively weathered by the locals.

“Like many other immigrants — even though we are not immigrants because we are citizens for people of color — we still suffered discrimination,” he said. “And I grew up, unfortunately, in one of the toughest times in New York.”

“There were a lot of landlords burning down their properties because they wanted to make more money through insurance and rent.”

Being discriminated against for one’s identity led to a disconnect from humanity, but humanity was never lost on Miranda-Rodriguez. He went through life admiring the smallest details.

Although his work is now praised by a multitude of people, this comic book author, who is quickly becoming a household name, once had to rush out of his house on the back of his neighbor because his house was burned down. A difficult situation for any child to handle, but the smell of his neighbor’s son’s burnt hair is still fresh in his memory.

“I remember he had the prettiest afro smell. It was like a coconut,” recalls Miranda-Rodriguez.

“And I was about six or seven years old, riding on top of him back down the fire escape as our building was burning.”

Miranda is a survivor in many ways, but the man he is today is also fueled by many other cases and experiences.

The first page of a success story

Before writing the original “La Borinqueña”, he had finished writing his first book for Marvel. Shortly after it was posted, it started trending on social media. He even got a phone call from his cousin in Puerto Rico letting him know that his comic had been mentioned in the local paper.

Even though he hadn’t realized the book’s impact, he nevertheless ‘got pissed off’ by asking his wife to take a photo of him holding the book at a local comic book store in New York. .

This was the beginning of its virality. The photo that Miranda posted on social media went viral and it started getting picked up by various publications where people were reviewing her book.

“Then I began to recognize, ‘Oye, hay chamber.’ Which means he had stumbled upon something he needed.

From that moment, institutions began to work with him, including the Puerto Rican Party Parade.

“They reached out to me and they said, we want to honor you,” Miranda recalled.

“And I’m like, ‘Easter?’

To which they replied, “we want to honor you to be that writer at Marvel.”

Although his contribution to the comic book industry was growing in popularity, his humility in the face of all the praise he received was considerable.

“I just wrote a book and I thought I’m not like George Pérez, who is a Puerto Rican artist who has a nearly 40-year career creating almost seven original characters between Marvel and DC, writing and illustrating stories that gave birth to Avengers, Infinity War, Endgame, all those great movies,” he said. “Even Wonder Woman.”

“And here I am with a book y me quieren atar en una carroza who I was like ¡I’m sorry to do everything!‘”

But even if he didn’t let the whole celebration towards him go to his head, he knew that what he had at hand was huge. He knew this was an opportunity.

He reached out to the parade and introduced them to the new character he was developing – and they immediately took interest. Meanwhile, Miranda-Rodriguez had only filled three pages in a sketchbook about it.

This did not discourage the organizers. They urged him to debut in the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The first Borinqueña was born

The story of La Borinqueña was still in the works, but they gave him a float ready to present it. They wanted La Borinqueña in the parade.

“So I asked a young law student who had just graduated from UC Berkeley, Stephanie Llanes Martin, to dress up as La Borinqueña for the Puerto Rican Day Parade,” Miranda recalled.

He asked two designers from Puerto Rico to work on the original costume design and they sent it to him two days before the show.

He remembers children wearing T-shirts with La Borinqueña and how they looked when they saw a superhero who looked like them – one who also displayed the flags they were waving.

“I was there with Stephanie and sometimes standing behind her – just sucking it all up because no one knew who I was.”

“They’ve all seen this character, and even though it was the first time they saw her, they loved her. They take selfies and photos. And that’s really how it all started.

After realizing that there was something ready to burst from his idea and his awesome imagination, he started working on writing the book. He knew that was the next step. His wife, Kelly, knew this was the step. They knew that was what had to happen.

“Kelly and I started talking about doing a big book, a really big book. And that’s what it became. That’s why the first issue had this 40-page story plus the bonus story of twelve pages with La La Liu.”

Miranda launched the first issue in La Borinqueña at Aguada Comic Fest five years ago.

A character to deconstruct machismo

Creating a superheroine came with a lot of questions influenced by the macho culture deeply rooted in Latino society, and which Miranda experienced firsthand.

People often ask him why he chose to create a female superhero, a question he knows no one would ever ask if his character was male. Overall, Miranda understands how rooted this is in society’s relentless need to challenge women.

However, the author made it clear from the start how important it was that “La Borinqueña” existed.

“In popular culture, especially from a Western perspective, everything is very much a white male narrative or even a male narrative,” he told us.

“And everything else is secondary.”

Let’s be realistic. Women take precedence, even though it is a fictional character. It has been depicted across popular culture for decades. We have generally been fed the “damsel in distress” archetype as opposed to the strong and brave woman. Yet, if we have access to an empowering narrative about women, it is peppered with a depiction of a hypersexualized character to satisfy the typical male gaze.

Miranda-Rodriguez agrees.

“If a woman has the opportunity to be the lead, there’s always a way for her relationship, her personal romantic relationship, to work its way into the narrative,” the author explained. “However, when men are written, men come to have exploits without any without being attached to anything.”

So how did Miranda-Rodriguez create a character that society wasn’t used to seeing while respecting women’s voices? Well, he was mentored, as he says, by incredibly strong women who helped shape the man he is today.

“It’s all down to being mentored by women, associating myself with feminist ideology, a woman’s perspective, and women’s rights,” the deconstructed Latino says.

This led him to ultimately challenge toxic masculinity and patriarchy.

Climate change as a point of intersection

During our conversation, as a true designer, Miranda was multitasking. In fact, he was editing his new book while talking to me that day. He explained that this was the first time he had directly published a story with a specific message about climate change and the need for a transition to renewable energy.

In this new book, Rosario Dawson is brought to use her voice for climate change. By having someone maneuver the real-life superstar and now dove into the fantasy world of “La Borinqueña” with superpowers, Miranda-Rodriguez was able to merge the two realities.

“I think for this project to continue to grow, it eventually needs to take a stand on issues that affect us all,” the author said.

Hopefully this book will be offered to Puerto Rican government officials because LUMA doesn’t cut it. Puerto Ricans don’t deserve continuous blackouts. No one does – especially not in 2022.

Pick up a copy of La Borinqueña with Rosario Dawson by visiting forbidden planet!

La Borinqueña with Rosario Dawson was created with the support of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit organization working to ensure everyone’s rights to clean air, clean water and healthy communities.

Lucas E. Kelly