Comics, Pop culture

Top 12 Latino Superheroes

I just read Nameen Gobert Tilahun’s excellent article in Fantasy Magazine about a recent list of top 25 Black superheroes.  It got me thinking about the relative lack of Latino superheroes (though there have been more recently), and the stereotypes and other oddities about the way Latinos are often featured in comics.   And of course it got me thinking, “who are the biggest Latino superheroes?” Here’s my personal top 12, ranked according to a highly unscientific combination of popularity, importance, and my own personal fondness (or lack thereof) for the characters.

#12 Rictor/Richter (X-books): Rictor is a relatively minor character in the X-universe, but I remember him fondly from my 80s childhood.  Rictor and fellow New MutantsHe was a young mutant with the power to create earthquakes, and started out as a trainee with X-factor, and then migrated from X-book to X-book (X-terminators, New Mutants, X-force, and I think recently he’s back with the current incarnation of X-factor.)  Rictor was cool (at least at first) because he was a visibly Latino character who wasn’t a blatant stereotype. After I stopped reading X-force (even as a teenager I was turned off by Rob Liefeld’s hackneyed writing), there was apparently some plotline about his Mexican family dealing arms. Doesn’t sound very promising, and if it was written by Liefeld, I doubt it was handled with any subtlety.

It took me quite a while to find a pic of Rictor as I remember him.  A leather vest with no shirt  … kind of a hot anti-costume, but could you get away with that even in the 80s? 

Considering that the X-books are single-handedly responsible for like 75 percent of the diversity of the Marvel Universe, it’s surprising there haven’t been more X-Latinos.  But I haven’t been keeping up well with most of the X-books lately (there are just too many of them), and I’ve heard in recent years they’ve featured some other Hispanic characters, like Empath, Cecilia Reyes, and Skin.

#11 Isaac Mendez (Heroes): From the first season of Heroes Isaac had the power to paint the future.  His heroine addiction (he could only paint the future while high) was a bit of a stereotype as well as a low-hanging fruit for the writers, but Santiago Cabrera’s performance was strong, and I thought the character had potential until they killed him off. 

No, I didn’t include Maya and Alejandro from season two of Heroes … they were just way too annoying for me.  

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Burn After Reading – not quite as advertised, but worth seeing

I saw Burn After Reading on Friday night with Hassan and my friend Logan.  It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but still well worth seeing. The cast is a veritable Justice League of actors, with Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Frances McDormond, all of whom give great performances.  John Malkovich is amazing down to every single gesture (though that’s pretty much a given), and Brad Pitt is especially entertaining, just because the doofy aging gym bunny he plays is such a fun contrast to the standard Brad-Pitt-action-hero character. Here’s the trailer:

About 20 minutes into the movie, I whispered to Logan and Hassan, “This is good, but it’s not quite the way it was advertised. (Yes, I engage in during-movie whispering, but only on a very limited basis and at a low decibel level.) From the trailer, I thought it was sort of a bizarro action comedy with Brad Pitt and Frances McDormond caught in the middle of some big spy plot with CIA agent John Malkovich.   

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Fantasy & scifi, Fiction, Recommended books, Stuff I wrote

Dreaming Again Out in the U.S.

Dreaming Again, an anthology of Australian fantasy and science fiction edited by Jack Dann, just came out in the U.S. last week.  It includes “This is My Blood,” a story I co-wrote with my friend Chris Lynch at Clarion South.  It’s my first published story, and I’m pretty psyched about it.  The book is a sequel to Dreaming Down Under, which was considered a ground-breaking book for Australian spec-fic.  Here are some of the stories in the new book that I’ve enjoyed the most:

  • “Lakeside” by Chris Green is an eerie and slippery story told in amazingly tight prose, the sort of story that stays with you for days. This was probably my favorite story in the book, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up on some  of the superlative lists and anthologies for 2008.  Chris G is a classmate from Clarion South and we’ll be seeing lots of other good stuff from him in the future.
  • “The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga” is a typically imaginative Peter-Ball story of an undead prostitution ring on a pirate island.  Peter’s another Clarion South classmate, and I’m continually amazed at his ability to spin a tale that zooms in on the most human dimensions of a bizarre and awe-inspiring premise.
  • “In from the Snow” is by Lee Battersby, one of my tutors at Clarion. I love Lee’s work and this is probably one of his strongest stories.  It’s one of those deeply disturbing stories that you enjoy being disturbed by.
  • “Riding on the Q-Ball” is by Rosaleen Love (who I don’t know from Clarion South, or at all) but her story is a fun tale that mixes quantum physics with the silliness of office politics.
  • “The Empire” by Simon Brown, another Clarion teacher, is a great story that explores what really happened to end the Martian conquest of humanity in War of the Worlds. Any story that deftly mixes HG Wells and Vaudeville is definitely worth the read!
  • “Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh” by Jason Fischer – another Clarionmate – is a fun romp of zombies, camels, and international intrigue that brings lots of laughs.
  • “Smoking, Waiting for Dawn” by Jason Nahrung has more undead fun, with an interesting twist or two. 

These are just some highlights – plenty of other good stories in there, too.  You can order your copy at Amazon or Powells.