Tag Archives: Brian Michael Bendis

Latino Heritage Month Spotlight on White Tiger! — 1st Puerto Rican Superhero & His Dope SuperLegacy

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Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month kicked off September 15th, and here in geekland we’re celebrating by shouting out superheroes of Hispanic & Latino heritage. While we’ve given a nod to some of the indie creators writing comics with Latino themes and/or characters in the past, today we’re talking mainstream superheroes, because if we don’t show some love to the Latino heroes already in the mainstream, we might find that the major publishers aren’t to keen to keep up what’s been a nice increase in the diversity of comics. Also, ’cause these heroes mad dope:

First up…

White Tiger!

The White Tiger identity has now been taken on by five different heroes, though only three of them gained their powers by inheriting the Jade Tiger amulet that endowed the first White Tiger, Hector Ayala, with his powers.

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Hector Ayala – the original White Tiger karate choppin’ the way for Latinos in comics

First appearing in Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu in 1975, Ayala became the first Puerto Rican superhero in comics and Marvel’s first Latino superhero. A college student at NYU, Ayala found the Jade Tiger amulets and used them to fight crime using a secret identity– White Tiger. He went on to fought alongside big wigs like Daredevil, Spider-man, and Iron Fist. Unfortunately he was later framed for a murder and shot and killed trying to escape capture.

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Angela Del Toro – sad tortured, magic-ed-into-evil White Tiger

But in 2003, the White Tiger identity was revived by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, when FBI agent and  Hector Ayala‘s niece Angela Del Toro discovered the Jade Tiger amulets and the White Tiger legacy.  Angela reluctantly takes up the mantel as the masked vigilante under the guidance of Daredevil, and soon finds herself fighting with her uncle’s old friends like Luke Cage, Spider-man, Black Widow.  However, she is later magically corrupted and now operates under the influence of The Hand as an assassin.

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Ava Ayala dunkin’ on some fools

All hope for the White Tiger legacy is not lost, however, as Hector Ayala had a younger sister… The young Ava Ayala took up the mantle of White Tiger in 2011 when Christos Gage and Tom Raney wrote her into the Avengers Academy series. Strongly tied to her legacy and her heritage, she has been critical of other Latino heroes who do not embrace their heritage (namely Reptil). She’s also very likely the dopest and most popular to take on the identity. Though Avengers Academy was later cancelled, she is a regular in the Ultimate Spider-man animated TV series, and she recently appeared as White Tiger in the brand new, promising (and awesomely diverse) Mighty Avengers series. Though issue #1 opens with her quitting Luke Cage‘s new Heroes for Hire revival, it’s looking pretty good that she’ll be back!

Review: Mighty Avengers #1 — Luke Cage & Monica Rambeau Shine As Leaders Again

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Featuring one of the most diverse superteams ever, Al Ewing and Greg Land’s Mighty Avengers has been one of the most anticipated comics of the Fall, and this first issue matches the hype with a just the right dose of action and a rich introduction to our new team’s leaders and the motivations of the new team-up.

Brian Michael Bendis really developed the character and storyline for Luke Cage in his New Avengers run, daring to do something few creators have worked into superhero plotlines — giving him a wife and a child, which not unexpectedly resulted in his retiring from the Avengers. But that didn’t sideline him completely. Cage has still very much been a part of Marvel storylines, presenting a conflicts of interest and new motivations for the character regarding his new role as a family man.

This issue really draws those strings together and gives us a relatable and real reason for Cage’s desire to lead a team again. Aside from the fact that the regular line-up of Avengers is busy fighting alien militia in space, Cage really wants to get back in the game to make his family proud. The brief glimpse we get of Cage’s relationship with the young hothead Powerman promises an interesting dynamic between the two, something of father-son like mentorship that is clearly impacted by Cage’s new role as a father.

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In this issue we also get a solid look at the return of Monica Rambeau, who’s underuse in the Marvel universe over that past 10 years has been criminal. An incredibly powerful hero and a smart leader with an interesting backstory, Monica was the first Black female superhero to have her own self-titled comic in Captain Marvel in the late 80’s.

After leading the Avengers in the 80’s when she was Captain Marvel, she quit when she briefly lost her powers and returned to her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Despite an appearance as the leader of the C-list superhero team in Nextwave, Monica never really quite made it back to prominence. It seems an odd fate for such a smart and incredibly powerful hero. Ewing and Land’s Mighty Avengers aims to bring her back with a vengeance… and a perm.

(Not gonna lie, it seems a little out of character to see Monica, who’s always sported natural hair, with her new straightened shaggy bob cut.  But it’s great to see her back, no matter the hairstyle.)

In this first issue, Ewing and Land certainly captured just how powerful Monica is, as well as her very serious dedication to her duty as a hero. Despite her new costume and her brand new moniker (that one can only hope she’ll manage to hang on to this time) as Spectrum, she’s still the same amazing Monica.

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This issue hints at many of the tensions and dynamics we’ll have to look forward to throughout the series, including that between Luke Cage and Superior Spider-man, who seems anything but on board when the makings of a team start to come together as Thanos’ thugs attack New York.  Otto Octavius’s snarky egotism is bound to clash with Cage’s no-nonsense leadership. And the youngins on the team, White Tiger and Powerman, already seem to have a clash of ideas about what it means to be a superhero.

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Add to all that our mystery Ronin who Monica seems to have a bit of a past with, and this first issue has knotted this team together intricately and it’s looking to be a ton of fun to unravel.

With Ewing’s historical love for two of the most dynamic Marvel heroes Luke Cage and Monica, it looks like we’re in for a lot more than trash talk and jaw breaking. Mighty Avengers #1 demonstrates that Ewing and Land intend to continue the focus on rich character development that Bendis brought to New Avengers. And here’s hoping we see the creative team bring up the tough issues with this awesomely diverse cast of heroes.

Verdict: Get it! Even if you’re a trade buyer, you’re gonna want to own #1 when this series gets all epic. A must-read.

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Kid Superheroes of Color! Nova & Spider-man Leading the Way to Diverse Heroes for All Ages


If you know Brian Michael Bendis‘ work, then you know he’s been huge in helping making comics more diverse. He gave us a super cool and hardcore real women in Jinx and Jessica Jones, he made Luke Cage a major player in the New Avengers before hooking him up in an interracial relationship with Jessica Jones, and he even started his own creater-owned comic Takio with sister superheroines one of whom was adopted and of Asian-descent.

But his biggest win for heroic diversity in comics was when he killed Spider-man and made him a mixed Black and Puerto Rican kid, Miles Morales!

It was a insanely dope move on his part, and bold as hell.  And as far as I know, Ultimate Comics Spider-man isn’t going anywhere. That said, Miles Morales is an alternate universe Spider-man. Alternate universes have been used to make changes in race and sexual orientation for several superheroes at this point, like Earth 2‘s gay Green Lantern and Filipino Captain Steel.  And though Spider-man is a big win, the majority of heroes of color or LGBT heroes are part of teams or relegated to the sidelines, like Reptil and White Tiger (who’ll soon be joining the new Mighty Avengers) in the recently cancelled Avengers Academy, and Hulkling and Wiccan in Young Avengers.

The tide is definitely changing and it seems to be most prevalent with the kids.

And Miles Morales isn’t the only kid hero of color with his own comic. In 2011, Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness introduced half-Latino Sam Alexander as the son of the superhero Nova…

Keep reading at Unleash The Fanboy!

Brian Michael Bendis Loves Mixed Babies!

Finally, A Legit Cloak and Dagger Romance!

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Okay, so maybe not everyone was as excited as I was to see C-list Marvel superheroes Cloak and Dagger on the cover of last week’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #24, but, no matter where your geek love lies, if you don’t know this super duo, you should totally check them out.

Last week writer Brian Michael Bendis gave the heroes a new back story in the Ultimate Comics universe, but this duo has been fighting crime and superfoes since the 80’s. Their original history is interesting… in that slightly-problematic-but-whatever kind of way.

The original story has Tyrone (Ty) Johnson, a poor Black kid from South Boston meeting up with Tandy Bowen, a rich runaway from Ohio, on the mean streets of New York, where he considers stealing her purse before sweet little Tandy offers him money. When someone else actually does steal her purse, Tyrone retrieves it for her. Homeless and kind-hearted, the two take a liking to each other.

Naive Tandy just can’t stay out of trouble, however, and ends up taking shelter with a notorious drug dealer. Ty tags along to help her out and both end up injected with some crazy drug mix that gives them superpowers.  Ty becomes Cloak, the embodiment of darkness, able to manipulate darkness and access and navigate the Darkforce dimension and teleport through it.

Tandy, on the other hand, becomes Dagger, the embodiment of light, able to generate and manipulate life-force energy and use it to attack and also heal.  She also uses her power to “feed” Cloak, who, is perpetually hungry for light/life-force energy, but Cloak isn’t the only one who benefits from this. Dagger has to emit a certain amount of the life-force energy over time or else it builds up and she gets sick and loses control of her powers .

So you see why these two make quite the pair…

Hopefully, you also see a wee bit of problematicness with the whole story. Poor black guy turns into a life-force munching black hole,  rich white girl turns into light and life energy that she feeds to the black dude.  Yea…

BUT they also have one of the tightest-knit relationships in comics, and yet they never explored romance… Tyrone is into it, but Tandy never requites.  Now, I’m not saying you can’t have a super-close symbiotic relationship without it getting romantic, but we’re talking comics here.  So many less plausible match-ups have graced the panels.

And in the Ultimate Comics universe where the new Spider-man is a Puerto Rican and African American mixed baby, it’s super awesome to see another interracial couple! Comics are no stranger to interracial couples – Misty Knight & Iron Fist, Luke Cage & Jessica Jones to name a couple – but, to me the Cloak  and Dagger match-up is something of  a correction.

Rather than a narrative that can’t help but recall the U.S.’s awkward racial history of the (literally & metaphorically) dark black man lusting after the pure white woman who wants no part of it, this Tyrone and Tandy reflect an America that’s increasingly mixing it up without the slightest thought. You can see these major differences even just in the imagery. Older Cloak and Dagger images often show Cloak looming ominously or possessively over Dagger, whereas Bendis’Cloak and Dagger cover has the couple side-by-side.

Bendis’ alternate history Cloak and Dagger meet up not as racial stereotypes —  a poor homeless thief and a naive rich runaway — but rather as student class presidents of their high schools. And they fall for each other right away, nary a hesitation over race or class, just straight up love.

The universe that Bendis is writing in Ultimate Comics Spider-man is just so awesome. So colorful, so modern, and a hell of a lot more interesting because of it.

I love this duo and I love seeing them in love.  Can’t wait to see where their story goes. Brian Michael Bendis, you rock.