Comic Book Review by Ayanna Jones-Lightsy
There are moments when we, as people of color, can forget how beautiful we are. We forget how diverse and dynamic the diaspora has made us. La Borinquena is yet another reminder in a long line of recent literature that we are, quite simply “lit”. La Borinquenha is a story about a Hispanic teenage girl who is blessed with superpowers. But the twist is that she is an environmentalist as well. Yeah we are everywhere. In this 12 page story that was specifically commissioned by the Smithsonian for its Asian Pacific American Center’s CTRL+ALT pop up exhibition in New York City, we get a glimpse into the friendship between Marisol Rios de la Luz, the heroine and La La Liu, a Chinese-Dominican college student. YASS, you have a diverse background and you have a diverse background, we all have a diverse background!
The story starts with these two lifelong friends coming home from a party. As is typical with the millennial generation, the trouble starts with a selfie. In this compact 12 page story that is really only a piece of a larger graphic novel, the girls stumble upon a toxic dumping scheme. It isn’t a complex, character driven descent into the morals of humanity. Go to Batman for that. It isn’t a telling indictment about the underlying racism and sexism that Latino people of color face. It’s just a tale about a girl, who is proud of her heritage, awed by her own super powers, and determined to make a difference. In short, a regular girl and her friend being fearless. I would recommend this story for my own girls because of its simplicity and clarity. The writer, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez has met brown girls and he sees us.
The colors are quite vibrant and add to the sense of buoyancy that all stories involving teenage girls should have. There are no subtle pinks and purples, these girls live in New York City and the background of blues and reds, deep grays and chocolatey browns suits them perfectly. They fit. I really appreciated the subtle nuances of the facial characteristics of each girl. Just because they are brown doesn’t mean their noses and lips and facial shapes should all be the same kind of round. And the muscle bound thickness has to be a salute to Queen Serena!! It’s classic and it’s our own kind of lovely strength.
Let me say a final word about the dialogue. The interplay of Spanish and English is so familiar to me as a New York native, I could see the bodega on the corner and feel the asphalt under my feet. It is seamless and fun just like La Borinquena herself. Do yourself a favor and check it out!
*The author is including this story in a full length issue of La Borinquena that he is self publishing under his studio, Somos Arte. The debut date is December 22, 2016 and online orders will be taken on his website www.Laborinquena.somosarte.com. You can check out the author Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez on Instagram and Facebook at @LaBorinquenaComics and his Twitter is @MrEdgardoNYC.