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DC Comics reduces Latinos to their food in Hispanic Heritage Month covers, fans say

DC Comics covers featuring Green Lantern holding tamales, Hawkwoman holding platanos fritos, and Blue Beetle holding tacos.
DC Comics
DC Comics covers featuring Green Lantern holding tamales, Hawkwoman holding platanos fritos, and Blue Beetle holding tacos.

Although Hispanic Heritage Month doesn't begin until Sept. 15, DC Comics got an early start by revealing several special covers in their attempt to celebrate the upcoming month.

The covers, which were revealed in June, feature several of DC's superheroes surrounded by, holding, or eating a variety of Latin American foods such as tacos, flan, tamales and platanos fritos. Comic book fans on Twitter, specifically Latino fans, aren't too happy with this interpretation of DC's heroes.

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, who is the creator of his own comic book series La Borinqueña and has collaborated with DC Comics in the past, told NPR that he believes these covers are "tasteless."

"I feel that it is incredibly tone-deaf — almost like a parody of our culture when we're reduced down to food, you know? And that, street food," Miranda-Rodriguez said. "It's very, very codified for me. But it also speaks to how unaware they are that this is coded, that this is offensive, that it is tasteless. And it feels very exhausting."

A cover featuring Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern has received more heat than the rest. It shows the hero holding a large green flag in one hand that reads "Viva Mexico!!" while the other holds a shopping bag filled with tamales. This was not, however, the original illustration.

In June, illustrator Jorge Molina revealed on Twitter that he created a Green Lantern cover for DC. The original illustration was supposed to be an homage to La Patria, a famous mural by Mexican painter Jorge González Camarena. In the unfinished illustration, Green Lantern was holding a lantern instead of tamales, had an eagle with a snake perched on his arm, and was holding a Mexican flag sans the coat of arms.

According to Molina, the cover was "not supposed to see the light of day" due to "legal issues," and how it got promoted by DC remained a mystery to him.

DC Comics tells NPR the Green Lantern cover that raised controversy was not going to be released. "It is part of DC's internal creative process to receive and develop multiple versions of comic artwork from our artists. Some are released as variant covers, others are never used," the company said in a statement. It was "incorrectly reported" to be the official cover.

DC says it plans to release Molina's original cover on Sept. 20.

The company didn't address controversy over other planned covers. Fans across Twitter have taken to the platform to call out DC Comics for portraying Latino heroes only in relation to their food.

Miranda-Rodriguez encouraged Latinos to continue mobilizing and "rocking the boat" when it came social issues like this, but was ultimately disappointed with how DC Comics chose to appeal to their Latino readers.

"Their characters will continue to inspire generations to come like they have before, but it's exhausting when you have a situation like this," he said. "They don't just see this as an opportunity to do something to celebrate our heritage, and in essence, turn it around and make a mockery of our heritage and reduce us to menu items."

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Pablo Valdivia
Pablo Valdivia is an Audience Editor at NPR who is focused on elevating and telling Latino stories across digital, radio and podcast. He also develops strategies to help call in the community across the network and works to ensure that Latino voices get the visibility they deserve.