Wednesday, May 05, 2010

¿cinco de mighty-o?

if there are 2 things i love in this world, it's Mexican (food) and comic books. fortunately, i rarely combine the two, because my comics would then have salsa/white cheese dip all over (though it's depressingly hard to find the latter up here in the northeast). but over the years, the funny-book industry has managed to successfully bring us a NOMBRE of strong Latino characters (heroes and villains alike, i don't discriminate). so here are FIVE (get it? bc it's CINCO de Mayo) of my favorites, in ascending order from lamest to most-the-awesomest:

#5: AZTEK.
despite the cool premise, this guy was too lame for fame (i JUST coined that phrase to be the opposite of "too cool for school"). Aztek, A.K.A. "Uno" was raised from childhood by the Q Society (a secret organization) to be the champion of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl to battle their enemy, the Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca.  he was given a magical suit of armor that bestows him with many abilities (which they seemed to make up as the stories evolved), complementing Uno's peak human mental and physical abilities. Aztek soon joined the Justice League, but resigned when it was revealed that one of the Q Society's mysterious benefactors was Lex Luthor (gasp!). He was later blinded helping the League save the Earth in a battle against the planet-destroying machine Mageddon, (apparently, the 'Tezcatlipoca' that the cult was referring to all along), and ultimately nobly sacrificed himself to allow Superman the chance to destroy Mageddon/Tezcatlipoca. good riddance.

growing up, this was probably my FIRST real exposure to reading the Spanish language (yes, in comics), as this guy was always all "¡Besame el culo!", "¡Cagaste y saltaste en la caca!", "¡El burro sabe mas que tu!", and "¡Kieta el stupido elephante!" to my friendly-neighborhood Spider-Man (not really, he never said any of THOSE things, but there were a bunch of Spanish insults thrown at the wall-crawler that i could not understand as a child). but i digress. the Tarantula is a CLASSIC, lesser-known Spidey villain who wears a red stretch costume with a tarantula on his chest (big surprise!). He's equipped with poisonous stingers attached to his boots. expelled from his small fictional South American republic (Delvadia) as a revolutionary terrorist, Anton Miguel Rodriguez, Anton went over to the side of the repressive fascistic-dictatorship government, where they made him their government's wanna-be Captain America type operative - the Tarantula. he soon embarked on a criminal career in the US. an athlete with incredible agility, leaping, and fighting skills, Anton also wore retractable razor-blades gloves and boots (!), loaded with paralyzing or lethal drugs and poisons.  just before his death he even gained the ability to shoot organic webbing from his backside (you can't make this stuff up. well i guess).

wait, didn't i just cover this one? nope. this is the sexier, female, more recent, DC-Comics version. how sexy? well, let's just say that she seduced former boy-wonder Nightwing (the original Robin, of "Batman-and-Robin" fame) into some romantic relations (¡muy caliente!). sure, it was after he accidentally killed a criminal underboss and was effectively in a catatonic, post nervous-breakdown stance, but let's be honest, she was pretty hot. her origin goes something like this: Catalina Flores, was a once an FBI agent, and also happened to be sister to the assistant D.A. of Blüdhaven (Nightwing's primary stomping grounds, as he needed to get out of Batman's shadow in Gotham city). to battle the city's corrupt police officers and gangland criminals, she soon assumed the mantle of her childhood hero, the Tarantula (not the MARVEL-comics villain above, but rather the 1940s DC WW2 hero). she inevitably had a few rooftop "clashes" with Nightwing (both of the physical and PHYSICAL variety). when it was revealed she was the real culprit of the above-mentioned bad-guy, the Tarantula was eventually arrested, later becoming a member of an elite government dark ops team. besides being a hot temptress home-wrecker that can kick some major nalgatorio, i'm not really sure what her powers are.

#2: SPIDER-MAN 2099.
celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original Spider-Man's first appearance, Spider-Man 2099 was one of many re-imagined future versions of classic Marvel characters living in 2099 - where a dystopian America is governed by corrupt corporations. This new Spider-Man (not quite el Hombre Arana), A.K.A. Miguel O'Hara (1/2 Spanish, 1/2 Irish, such an obvious combination of minorities) was a scientist performing animal genetics research for one these corporations, where he was tricked into an endentured-drug-addiction by his employers. when trying to "reset" his human DNA (the 90's era cloning themes were readily apparant here), some spider-DNA was "accidentally" thrown into the mix, granting Miguel spider-like powers - the proportionate strength, speed, and agility of a spider (naturally), an amped-up metobolism, and enhanced senses (not quite the "spider-sense" we know and love). the reduced flicker fusion threshold of his retinas allows him to perceive fast-moving objects in slow-mo (like bullets, lasers, etc). a side effect of all his visual enhancements are red irises. spinnerets in his forearms enable him to fire a webbing-type substance from his wrists ("spins a web any size, catches thieves, just like flies!"). retractable talons in his fingertips and toes enable him to instinctively climb or rend most surfaces (initially making short work of his bedsheets while sleeping). Spidey 2099 also possesses venom glands and pronounced, pointed canine teeth, which allows him to paralyze his foes with a bite.  his costume was (appropriately for this post) acquired from a Mexican Day of the Dead festival, and the web cape acts as an acts as an air foil (made from "Lyte Byte," an anti-gravity material commonly used in futuristic hang-gliders), allowing him to briefly glide on air currents, while slowing his freefall descent. que chulo.
...and now, i reveal to you WHO the most awesome (nombre-uno*) comic book character of mexican-O-rigins:

that's right. Bat-Hombre. let that sink in for a second. 

hopefully your head didn't just explode. this guy is just far too awesome for words to describe. and literally so, as there was virtually NO information about this gem out there. but in name alone he wins. complete with Bat-espado, Bat-caballo, and most importantly Bat-stache. origin? from what i can gather, some evil Mexican ganglords were causing trouble, so the Federalis called on the gringo Batman north of the border to come down and right some wrongs. upon further investigation, Bats figured he'd be better off setting the Mexicans up with their own hero - "teach a man to fish" and all that (the Arizona state government could learn something from these guys). and the rest, mi amigos, is history.

*(and yes, i KNOW that nombre = "name"...not "number" en espanol. but "nombre-uno," aside from being a teaser for bat-hombre, also indicates "name #1", and that's where Bat-Hombre delivers)

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