La Borinqueña #2 by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Manuel Preitano, Will Rosado, Christopher Sotomayor, & Robert Snyder
LA BORINQUEÑA #2 vibrantly develops Puerto Rico's new superhero as she explores her powers and the magic of Puerto Rico. Miranda-Rodriguez' keeps the pace as the comic's artistic team delivers crisp character design.
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Powerful and Important

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s superhero comic LA BORINQUEÑA is rich with references to Puerto Rican culture. The comic illustrates a superhero who embodies Puerto Rican pride and the island’s complex history. Unlike other superheroes, Marisol Rios De La Luz’s new found powers derive from Puerto Rico’s indigenous culture. In LA BORINQUEÑA #1, Marisol became La Borinqueña when she encountered Atabex, the Taíno goddess, and her sons. Her name, La Borinqueña is a tribute to the Taíno name for Puerto Rico, Borinkén, as well as the national anthem of Puerto Rico, La Borinqueña. Miranda-Rodriguez’s comic comes at a critical time in Puerto Rican history. Following Hurricane Maria’s devastating effects on the island, works like LA BORINQUEÑA #2 that draw attention to the people and culture of Puerto Rico could not be more important.

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Bilingual Comics for All

A unique element of LA BORINQUEÑA is the comic’s use of Spanish and English. Surprisingly, for those of us who are not fluent in Spanish, the comic is still accessible and easy to follow. However, I am convinced that there is much to gain from a deeper understanding of both languages at work in the comic. Indeed, Miranda-Rodriguez’ detailed writing can occasionally be overwhelming. But his subtle use of language, puns, and translation, makes LA BORINQUEÑA a compelling celebration of the island’s linguistic traditions. Additionally, as Marisol is Puerto Rican-American, the language choice appropriately reflects her world experience and brings readers closer to her.

LA BORINQUEÑA #2 image courtesy of Somos Arte.

Mar Y Sol: The Daughter of The Sea and The Sun

The lyrics to the Puerto Rican national anthem state, “Borinquen is the daughter, the daughter of the sea and the sun.” Cleverly, Miranda-Rodriguez’ makes this connection to his heroine. The name Marisol is a homonym for mar y sol, meaning sea and sun in Spanish. The pun more strongly links Marisol’s identity to the identity of the Island.

LA BORINQUEÑA #2 image courtesy of Somos Arte.

When Marisol visits an ancient archaeological site, she directly communicates with the island’s past and the goddess Atabex. While exploring, Marisol provides readers with a window into the history of the Taíno people, as well as the island’s brutal colonization.  Marisol’s connection to Puerto Rico does not stop at the island’s history. She is also a figure of environmental protection. Marisol is an Earth and Environmental Sciences undergraduate student. As a result, she cares deeply for the landscape and preservation of the island’s flora and fauna. In LA BRINQUEÑA #2, Marisol begins to study the Puerto Rican Hat Palm. She also shelters a small frog and genuinely finds a deep connection with the nature on the island. On an island that faces dangers from climate change, the emphasis on caring for the environment is an exciting aspect of LA BORINQUEÑA.

As LA BORINQUENA #2 progresses, Marisol learns more about her newfound powers and herself. She has super strength, flight, and the ability to control hurricane-related weather. However, Marisol begins to notice changes in her personality. Balancing her new role as Puerto Rico’s superhero and her life as an American undergrad challenge what she knows about her identity.

Shades of History in LA BORINQUEÑA

LA BORINQUEÑA #2’s vibrant artwork by Will Rosado and Manuel Preitano and colors by Christopher Sotomayor and Robert Snyder give the comic an extra sense of magic and power. The artists bring out Marisol’s control of water and wind, making the comic energetic and full of motion.

In many respects, the artwork is typical of what superhero based comics usually contain. The lines and colors are smooth and bold. At times, the characters seem almost too perfect. Given the themes of the comic, LA BORINQUEÑA’s art misses an opportunity to connect the comic even more to the artistic styles of Puerto Rico. However, the artistic team’s skill and creativity stand out in particular when Marisol travels back in time to visit a crucial moment in Taíno history. Sotomayor and Snyder give Marisol full color but cast the Taíno people in shades of blue. As a result, readers feel the eerie atmosphere as Marisol explores the traumatic events.

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LA BORINQUEÑA #2: Hope for the Future?

As Marisol develops her powers and explores Puerto Rico’s history, she experiences changes within herself. She starts to feel internal conflicts about her identity and role. On top of that, his happens just as forces of evil begin to work against her. Her connection to the island from her father, her father’s traumatic past, and the island’s history all come together as Marisol decide’s her next steps. Despite the growing conflict, LA BORINQUEÑA #2 represents the process of healing. LA BORINQUEÑA #2 develops Marisol’s connection to Puerto Rico and pride in the complicated identity of the island itself.

LA BORINQUEÑA #2 is available here. Be sure to check out LA BORINQUEÑA at the Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean | Taíno: herencia e identidad indígena en el Caribe exhibit that debuts at the National Museum of the American Indian this month! 

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