By Timothy Adams
A new superhero universe is in the works, featuring Latinx characters and creatives behind the scenes. The publisher behind creator-owned series like Commander Rao, Charm City, She Bites (formerly known as The Vampire’s Babysitter), and Eternus from Andy Serkis and Andrew Levitas, is teaming with Chispa Comics and multimedia company Mucho Mas Media to launch a Latinx-focused shared universe. Most comics fans are familiar with the shared universes from Marvel and DC, but they are primarily filled with white characters. The world Scout Comics, Chispa Comics, and Mucho Mas Media are envisioning will help bring some much-needed representation to comics.
The Thirteen from Chispa is the first title to kick off this new shared universe, which is the brainchild of Mucho Mas Media, in partnership with distributor Scout Comics. The Thirteen is described as “an elite league of super-powered humans with Mesoamerican roots.” The Thirteen will debut in 2023 through a series of one-shot origin stories: the first six set to premiere at San Diego Comic-Con, the last seven to drop at New York Comic-Con. An ongoing series will follow the one-shots in 2024, featuring the entire line-up, and three other spinoff series featuring smaller teams of heroes.
Super-powered humans in this universe are referred to as “chispas” (sparks), a term that reflects a Latinx perspective on heroism. They arise from inside, not outside the community. They don’t fight evil just as vigilantes or powerful police but as defenders of their people against the systems that foment crime, evil, and injustice. Doing so, they inspire others, sparking a fire in the hearts of common people to work together in solidarity to effect real change in the world.
Origin stories for The Thirteen come from a group of writers, some of whom are represented by Mucho Mas subsidiary Inclusion Management: Zopilote by Hector Rodriguez III, The Wake by Jasminne and Lupe Méndez, Pyroclast by Frederick Luis Aldama, Cloudbreak by Leticia Urieta, Florescent by Héctor González, Dragonthrall by Veronique Medrano, Vendaval by Ire’ne Lara Silva, Shaper by Angelo Bowles, Gila Girl by Henry Barajas, Molt by Laura Galán-Wells, Revive by Oscar Garza and Rolando Esquivel, Blue Deer by David Bowles, and Coneja by Kevin García. Negotiations with illustrators and writers are underway.
“What makes these heroes unique is not just their ethnicity, but the fact that their powers emerge from their Mesoamerican day signs. In other words, there’s a cultural and spiritual element to these mutations that is specific to their Indigenous heritage,” explained co-publisher David Bowles, an award-winning Chicano author, translator, and college literature professor.
“With 62 million Latinx consumers in the US, comprising 25% of the U.S. Gen Z and Millennial population and growing, our community is a huge consumer of entertainment. We want Chispa’s new superhero universe to reflect the full diversity under that umbrella, with the ability to organically expand into every niche,” said Chispa Comics co-publisher Hector Rodriguez III, an award-winning Chicano comic book creator and co-founder of Texas Latino Comic Con.
Attack at Acapulco: A Black Demon Tale was the first published title from Chispa, and debuted at the 2021 New York Comic-Con. The comic from writer Sebastian Martinez-Kadlecik and artist Bruno Oliveira is centered on an ancient megashark from Mexican mythology guarding the waters near the Baja peninsula. The Black Demon, an independent feature film thriller adaptation starring Josh Lucas, directed by Adrian Grunberg (Rambo: Last Blood) and produced by Javier Chapa and Jon Silk, will be released next year by The Avenue Entertainment and Amazon.
While planning the release of an anthology series to tie in with The Black Demon film, Chispa is shepherding other projects toward the second quarter of 2023, including the horror anthology Catrina’s Caravan, edited by David Bowles and Hector Rodriguez III; Thanks! from Romina, from writer Giulie Speziani; a graphic novel follow-up to the first issue of Oscar Garza and Pablo Esquivel’s Mashbone & Grifty, which dropped at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con; and the graphic novel series The Dusk, from Alex Segura. Among projects in development is the Richard Ortiz-drawn series The Fantastic Flame, written by Alex Segura and Chantel Acevedo.
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