DC’s recent cover reveals for Hispanic Heritage Month were quickly criticized by fans across social media. Throughout the covers, the various characters’ identities were reduced to food-based stereotypes. Fortunately, most of the covers have been updated with alternate versions and, in the Green Lantern’s case, the one intended for public release.
In addition to Kyle Rayner, fellow Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, Jaimes Reyes (AKA Blue Beetle), Kendra Muñez-Saunders (AKA Hawkgirl), Bane, Renee Montoya, and the Blood Syndicate are all included on special covers this month. On screen, Hawkgirl was featured on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on The CW. Renee Montoya, who appeared on Gotham, even made the crossover to the final season of Batwoman as Poison Ivy’s ex. Blue Beetle has appeared in animated form on Young Justice, and Angel Manuel Soto is set to direct a live-action Blue Beetle film. It’s currently in development and will star Xolo Maridueña as Jaime.
Back on the pages, there have also been many influential Latinx characters — either as heroes, villains, or something in between. Here are some of the Latinx figures in DC Comics that have left a big impact.
Hawkgirl’s history is a complicated tale of reincarnation and star-crossed love with Hawkman (literally and figuratively, since they’re originally from the planet Thanagar). Over time, the Hawkgirl persona has been reborn through various people, including Kendra Muñoz-Saunders.
As Hawkgirl, Kendra is closely tied to her otherworldly roots, but Kendra is also an Afro-Latina who grew up in Texas. Kendra has been portrayed as a founding member of the JSA on Earth-2, as well as a leader of the Blackhawks and a Justice League recruit post-Rebirth. She often opposes Darkseid’s invasions and is a fearsome fighter, utilizing her signature crossbow as well as wings that are infused with Thanagarian Nth Metal.
While her first interaction with The Flash was less than friendly, Alexa Antigone, AKA Fuerza, would become an important ally to Barry Allen. As a wielder of the Speed Force, Barry makes it his mission to understand the Seven Forces of the Universe, which leads him to Corto Maltese. Here, Alexa is a conduit of the Strength Force, a cosmic energy that is tied to gravity and motion.
With the Strength Force, Alexa fights against her country’s corrupt government. As Fuerza she is capable of channeling her strength to whichever part of her body needs it, in addition to gravity manipulation. However, Fuerza mainly uses her power for superhuman strength and invulnerability. Her connection to Barry is an important one as she is also tied to Anti-Crisis Energy, a key concept in maintaining the Multiverse’s order.
Often the bravery of super heroes is taken for granted. They are driven by an almost unbelievable sense of courage that is admirable, of course, but also rare. That’s why a hero like Jessica Cruz is so important. She must overcome PTSD and anxiety on her journey as a member of the Lantern Corps, and it is certainly not a smooth path. Because of that, readers can relate to her struggle; her powers don’t come easy and for that reason, we see ourselves in a Mexican American hero like her.
As the witness to a horrific mob crime, Jessica has extreme PTSD and she hides from the rest of the world. Nonetheless, when Harold Jordan, the evil Earth-3 version of the Green Lantern, is killed and the Ring of Volthoom must choose a new bearer, Jessica is appointed to be the Power Ring. Overcome by the influence of the Crime Syndicate relic, she is stopped by the Justice League and trained to become a Green Lantern. It is not an easy task for her to master her powers but with time she does, thanks to kind advice from Batman and a tenuous partnership with Simon Baz. Eventually, she even becomes a Yellow Lantern and utilizes her fear.
Like Jessica Cruz, the hero’s path was more of an accidental detour for Kyle Rayner than a pre-destined calling. When Hal Jordan, Earth’s Green Lantern at the time, lost his grip on reality and descended into murderous madness, a new guardian was needed. Ganthet, a former Guardian of the Universe, traveled to Earth and identified Kyle as the only available option. His exact words were, “You will have to do.” Not exactly a vote of confidence for Kyle.
Eventually, Kyle would prove to be an impressive Green Lantern. Growing up, he was estranged from his father, a Mexican American CIA agent, and in adulthood Kyle struggled to make ends meet as an artist. One of his most infamous losses even resulted in a storytelling trope known as “fridging,” in which a love interest is unceremoniously murdered. Over time, however, Kyle utilized the full Emotional Electromagnetic Spectrum of the Lantern Corps, becoming a White Lantern capable of wielding all the colors.
Renee Montoya, the daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, is a woman dedicated to justice — even if that sometimes means operating outside of the law or facing the doubt of her colleagues. She made her first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series, much like Harley Quinn, and has shown herself to be an ally of Batman as well as someone who fights endlessly for those she cares about. Montoya has ascended the ranks of the Gotham Police Department, starting off as an officer then eventually a detective.
In her tenure with Gotham PD, she never backed down from the many formidable villains she faced and she has made it through infamous Gotham City catastrophes, such as No Man’s Land and Final Crisis. At one point, she even developed an uneasy alliance with Two-Face, only to have him out her as a lesbian. Later, Montoya would inherit the persona of the Question from Vic Sage, wearing the Pseudoderm mask and fighting crime as a vigilante. On screen, Montoya fought alongside Harley, the Huntress, and Black Canary in Birds of Prey, and she will be featured in season 3 of Batwoman.
Even the mighty Diana of Themyscira needs a successor, and Yara Flor of the Amazons of the Amazon is more than a worthy choice. Born in Brazil before moving to Idaho, Yara decides to return to her homeland as a teenager, which is when she encounters the Amazonian water goddess, Iara. As her namesake, Iara bestows upon Yara the Golden Boleadoras, an indigenous tool of the region for capturing animals — and a strikingly similar weapon to Diana’s Golden Lasso of Truth. Yara’s various adventures have involved a chaotic (and heart-breaking) trip the Underworld, a tousle with a tyrannical star, and having to tame an unruly winged steed named Jerry.
While she does have a bit of a short temper, and tends to jump into situations before assessing, Yara is loyal to her people and an advocate of justice for all. She also develops a friendship with Jon Kent, the son of Superman and Lois Lane, who, like her, is being set up by the events of Future State to inherit a very important job title. Though she first appears as Wonder Girl, Yara is destined to become Wonder Woman.
Although his live-action portrayals have been woefully whitewashed, Bane is nevertheless Latino. This is apparent not only in the numerous animated versions of the hero but also in his origin story. As revealed in the Knightfall storyline, Bane’s father is Edmund Dorrance, a British mercenary who provided assistance to various rebel forces around the world, including a group in Santa Prisca. On this northeastern Caribbean isle, he impregnated a local rebel and left her for dead, but that child would grow up to the the ruthless super villain known as Bane.
His entire childhood and later formative years are spent in Peña Duro prison, where Bane’s extreme intelligence as well as natural physical gifts were able to flourish. He was later chosen as a test subject for an experimental drug called Venom, and though it nearly killed him, he developed his infamous hyper-muscled form (though he became completely dependent on this drug). Bane then traveled to Gotham City, where he freed all the super-villains from Arkham Asylum in a master plan to mentally and physically debilitate Batman. After months of battles, Bane confronted Batman and snapped the hero’s back across his knees, establishing himself as one of the few villains to truly break Batman.
Some heroes are forged from tragedy. Others are born with extraordinary powers. And some heroes, like Jaime Reyes, have alien technology grafted to their spine. Jaimes Reyes is the third incarnation of the Blue Beetle, but the story of his persona is definitely the one with the longest reach. When the extraterrestrial scarab first fuses with his body, Jaime has little control over all these newfound abilities. In fact, in many stories he seeks a way to remove it. However, over time Jaime has gained a deeper understanding of the scarab and now the two could even be said to share a symbiotic relationship, with the scarab naming itself Khaji Da.
Jaime is a Mexican American from El Paso, Texas, and the scarab is commonly understood to be technology from The Reach, an ancient antagonistic alien race that scours the galaxy for those they can control. The Reach have long been enemies of the Guardians of the Universe. Since Jaime’s scarab is only partially functioning, he is able to have some control over the device, granting him various abilities such as an armored exoskeleton, wings for flight, interdimensional teleportation, as well as manipulation of energy, radiation, and sound.
Some heroes are destined to make waves in more ways than one. Cisco Ramon grew up in Detroit, joining a local gang known as Los Lobos. A childhood incident caused Cisco to become a metahuman, and he would later become one of the youngest members of Aquaman’s new Post-Crisis JLA team. As a young, inexperienced hero, Vibe course stirred up lots of trouble. Sadly, this resulted in him also becoming the first casualty of the JLA when he was killed in action.
Thanks to the New 52 reboot, Vibe is once again an active hero. Vibe’s powers are actually the result of getting caught in a Boom Tube’s event horizon during Darkseid’s first Earth invasion, an attack which also killed Vibe’s brother. As his name would suggest, Vibe’s powers are vibrational by nature. He can create “warp waves” that are disruptive enough to shatter mountains as well as open interdimensional portals. In addition to comics and animated features, Vibe has also been portrayed in live action on The CW’s The Flash.
Yolanda Montez is another hero who has inherited the mantle of someone else, though she has definitely carved a name for herself with claws of her own. She is the goddaughter of the original Wildcat, Ted Grant, and because of terrible experimentation that was done to her pregnant mother, Yolanda possesses many cat-like attributes, such as agility and retractible claws.
As Wildcat, Yolanda eventually joined the Shadow Fighters to take down Eclipso once and for all. This team was specifically formed against the infernal Spirit of Wrath to stop his never-ending vengeance, but each member of the team was brutally murdered by the super-villain. After being resurrected, Yolanda served as an Avatar of the Red, an Elemental with command over the animal forces of the world. On screen, Yolanda has appeared in HBO Max’s Stargirl.
Representation continues to be a vital objective in super hero media, with plenty of already-amazing options available for the screen as well as the potential for new storylines. DC Comics has created an impressive cast of Latinx characters, and we’re excited for what the future holds.