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Meet El Peso Hero, a Latino Superhero Fighting Injustice on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Posted on Jun 21, 2016
By Eric Ortiz
“El Peso Hero” is not your typical comic book. Created in 2011 by Hector Rodriguez—an elementary school teacher in Dallas and the founder of Rio Bravo Comics—the series focuses on life on both sides of the United States-Mexico border.
The eponymous main character defends immigrants against drug cartels, human traffickers and corrupt officials. He stands up for the rights of the disenfranchised and fights all forms of injustice.
Humble and poor, El Peso Hero lives in a fictional town in Mexico called Los Brazos. According to The Dallas Morning News, his name refers to “the low-return Mexican peso,” and he remains true to his Mexican roots. Though he understands English, he speaks only Spanish.
The seed for “El Peso Hero” was planted in 2003, when Rodriguez began a rough draft of the story. The idea bloomed into a comic in 2011 and continues to grow in popularity.
Truthdig spoke with Rodriguez to learn more about “El Peso Hero.”
Who is El Peso Hero? What does he signify?
“El Peso Hero” is a comic book heavily influenced by the modern-day challenges people from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border face. El Peso Hero makes waves along the border as a defender of immigrants, hero to the disenfranchised and protector against Mexican cartels, corrupt officials and human traffickers.
As a young boy, El Peso Hero gets his powers of superstrength and unbreakable skin by accident and reluctantly assumes the role of hero for the unseen and unheard. Through the unintentional influences of his family and community, El Peso Hero becomes aware of the need for a local hero. Crime waves are sweeping the city, cartels have lay of the land, and El Catrin, a local cartel boss, holds the puppet strings to local government officials.
El Peso Hero steps out to defend the powerless in the series “El Peso Hero,” which shows the current realities of those living on the border, and the often destructive and deadly results.
“El Peso Hero” has been one of the most internationally talked-about Latino superheroes in decades. With the focus on major social issues such as immigration, human trafficking and institutional corruption, “El Peso Hero” has garnered attention and praise from the Latino community and has been featured on Univision, CNN, Telemundo, Fusion, TV Azteca, Conexion Thalia and countless other media sites worldwide. “El Peso Hero” even has won the prestigious Emmy Award for best news story by Univision news anchor Angel Pedrero.
Part of the appeal of the comic book is that El Peso Hero speaks only Spanish. All of the other characters in the comic book speak English. It is important to portray rich diversity.
Why is it important to have a Latino superhero today?
Representation matters. The Latino population in America is growing exponentially. By the year 2050, Latinos are projected to be the majority minority in Texas. This rapid population growth presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges that policymakers are in a position to address. Latinos are not adequately represented in local, state and federal government. They are even less represented in comics, books, music, TV shows and movies. Latinos make up 25 percent of moviegoers, even though they’re only 18 percent of the population. When Latino children watch the latest Marvel movie, they are not represented. With “El Peso Hero,” we bridge that gap and provide a superhero who is relatable and relevant to their culture.
How has El Peso Hero been received by border people—immigrants, law enforcement agents and cartels? What has been most surprising about the response in the United States and Mexico?
“El Peso Hero” has received an overwhelmingly positive response by the Latino community and the Latino media. “El Peso Hero” has appeared internationally in the news in Brazil, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Mexico and many other countries. We have conducted interviews with Univision, Telemundo, Latino Magazine, La Reforma and El País. The Latino media believe in the message and the importance of the books. It has even won a Lone Star Emmy.
In the United States, border patrol agent fans appreciate that we don’t take a political stand in the books. We let the story be representative of life on the border.
Recently, we started to receive hate mail due to an homage cover [Captain America No. 1] we did depicting Donald Trump getting punched in the face by El Peso Hero. It was important we took this stance, because we are defending the Latino community from bigotry and injustice.
Why are comic books important? How can a comic series like “El Peso Hero” make a social impact?
Comic books are a universal medium that can cross borders and languages. With “El Peso Hero,” we are telling the story of a Mexican man trying to give voice to those who are disenfranchised on the border. His mission is to help immigrants who are victimized and discriminated against.
Changing the situation and fighting the wave of corruption is a huge undertaking. El Peso Hero is overwhelmed by this sense of duty and responsibility. He has superpowers that he uses for good, but the landscape is wrought with moral ambiguity.
A comic book series like “El Peso Hero” brings attention to important issues and helps bridge the gap of representation in media. “El Peso Hero” is relevant, and Latino kids are emotionally invested in the stories.
Who would win in a fight between Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and El Peso Hero? Why?
I see this match being fought with no disqualification rules, or a ladder match.
Trump can’t put up much of a fight due to his small hands. He cannot be a grappler and will be knocked out by a chair shot from Hillary.
Bernie will take to the air from the turnbuckle and land a frog splash on Hillary. The crowd goes wild feeling the Bern. They both will be out due to the impact.
El Peso Hero will be the last man standing and pin Trump.
What’s next for “El Peso Hero”?
Rio Bravo Comics has some exciting “El Peso Hero” projects on the horizon. We are about to release the seventh book in the “El Peso Hero” series. “El Peso Hero: Undocumented Hero” will be out in July. Please help support more “El Peso Hero” stories.
The short film “El Peso Hero: El Toro Pesado” is in post-production, and we plan on releasing it soon. “El Toro Pesado” is an origin story that centers around two detectives who are investigating a missing person and uncover a greater mystery lurking among them. The two detectives’ methodologies and behaviors clash as they discover how hopeless they have become when facing the villain La Patrona.
Crimes of corruption and brutality bridge the story, which is told through the narrative of Detective Don Gonzalez. Don and his partner, Franco, witness the dawn of the Mexican superhero. The short stars Edgar Arreola (“Sicario,” “Queen of the South”), Billy Blair (“Machete,” “Blood Sombrero”), Larry Hardin (“Kill or Be Killed”), Eduardo Zambrana and Joshua Moreno.
We are planning on producing a radio novella podcast based on “El Peso Hero.” Here is the pilot episode.
And lastly, check out “El Peso Hero: Border Stories” on Evrybit.
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