I’ve seen lists all over the internet dividing comic book characters into any category: Race, gender, species, weapons paraphernalia, group affiliation, power set, etc. With the mutant characters of the Marvel Universe, there are more layers to look at because they’re a persecuted group of humans. The character of Storm speaks to the notion of being a Black African mutant while someone like Dust reflects being both mutant and a Muslim in a post-9/11 world. I’ve seen and made lists for Marvel’s Black mutant characters, I’ve even seen one for their Jewish mutants. But I never seen any for mutants of Hispanic origin. I looked, couldn’t find one, so I decided to make my own.
From 10 to 1, this list based on a combination of character backgrounds, powers and portrayals. First and foremost, characters have to be both Hispanic and mutant. So don’t ask me why I didn’t include characters like Miles Morales, Spider-Man 2099 or Firebird. Those characters are Hispanic and have powers, yes. But they aren’t mutants.
Real Name: Alejandro Montoya
First Appearance: Power Man and Iron Fist #58, August 1979
Powers: He could discharge powerful electrostatic charges generated by his own body through a conductive medium. His body generated and stored electricity emitted by his central nervous system, and could then discharge the electricity after it had built up to a certain level. His body was capable of discharging a maximum of 100,000 volts, sufficient at 10 feet to kill a man or to stun a rhinoceros. When it reached its full charge, his body would naturally discharge any excess energy in minute, harmless quantities. He could mentally control the intensity of the blast, keeping it well within the non-lethal range. After fully depleting his store of bio-electricity, be it in one blast or successive blasts, it took him one half hour to recharge back to full strength. The maximum range at which his blast could propagate through air at sea level is 30 feet. The major limitation of El Águila’s bio-electric blast is that he has to be in contact with a conductive metal in order to release it. Accordingly, he carries a sword through which he focuses his power.
My Take: He’s a Spaniard with a literal electric sword. I’ve only seen him in publication a few times. Each time, “The Princess Bride” comes to mind. ell, that and “Zorro”. Every time El Águila is on panel, I can’t help but to wish for the writer to have him say, “Hello, my name is Alejandro Montoya. You kill my father. Prepare to die.” After the “House of M” storyline, he was left depowered and much hasn’t been heard from him since.
Real Name: Sofia Mantega
First Appearance: The New Mutants (Vol. 2) #1, July 2003
Powers: Sofia’s power was elemental. She could manipulate ambient air molecules and use them to create controlled air funnels to levitate herself and fly. With concentration, she could levitate other objects in the same manner. She could produce compressed gusts of wind which could hurl objects with great force and create a cyclone expanding out from her position to lift and hurl any matter in her vicinity. Wind Dancer could also use the wind to bring distant sounds into range for her to hear. She could either bring these sounds into the general area, allowing anyone nearby to hear them as well, or carry the sounds directly to her own ears so that only she can hear them. Heh….talk about eavesdropping.
My Take: She’s the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy American father and Venezuelan mother. She grew up in Venezuela with her mother until she was killed in a riot. Sent to live with her father in the States, he had the same attitude of Tywin Lannister when it comes to parenting: “I’m ashamed of you, but you are my blood, so…“. She was always guided by her determination, which gave her a temper. As a result, she butted heads while she was a student at Xavier’s, but eventually mellowed out. She may be from a rich background, but she doesn’t have that snobby rich kid attitude. her rival-turned-boyfriend Julian Keller (aka Hellion) comes from a similar background in Beverly Hills and had the same rebellious attitude. Sofia took it awfully hard when she was depowered on M-Day and first became a waitress at a seedy New York diner. She later became a member of the New Warriors, using a Doc Ock-esque suit and calling herself Renascence. Since the teams disbandment, Sofia has disappeared. That’s a shame, she was sort of the female version of Sunspot only her parents had next to no relationship. Her father was more concerned with money than being a parent and had never met her until after her mother’s death. She wasn’t only his bastard, but also a mutant, which led to further distance and twice the shame. It’s like Donald Trump finding out he’s got a half-Mexican daughter born out of wedlock.
Real Name: Gloria Dolores Muñoz
First Appearance: X-Force (Vol. 1) #51, Feb. 1996
Powers: Risque had the mutant ability to implode matter. She could create localized gravity fields to affect inorganic matter by placing a gravitronic charge within an object to compress it into a small, high-density mass and then maneuver that gravity charge to propel the object at high velocities. This implosion manifested as either a concussive force or seeming disintegration. Despite the objects’ change in size, it could maintain its original mass, allowing Risque to hurl it at opponents, fully or in various pieces.
My Take: Half-Cuban and half-Seminole Indian, Risque was introduced in the pages of X-Force around the time of the Onslaught crossover. Starting out as a love interest for Warpath, she soon revealed herself to be a double agent bent on capturing him. Warpath had feelings for his teammate Siryn, but she always had mixed emotions when she wasn’t being a wailing drunken Irish woman. When Risque came into the picture, Siryn’s ardor for Jimmy was truly awoken. Risque met her end off-panel in “New X-Men Annual 2001” via John Sublime and his U-Men. But before she died, she used her powers to reduce one of Sublime’s men down to a baseball of flesh. Hispanic women are stereotypically reputed to have explosive tempers, but Gloria was literally implosive til the end.
FERAL & THORNN
Real Names: Maria Callasantos and Lucia Callasantos
First Appearance: The New Mutants (Vol. 1) #100, April 1991 (Feral); X-Force (Vol. 1) #6, January 1992
Powers: Feral and Thornn had the same mutation: A feline appearance with enhanced physical attributes. Their bodies were covered with brown fur and had pointed ears, razor sharp talons on each finger, pointed canine teeth, and a prehensile tail. They possessed enhanced strength, speed, cat-like agility, predatory instincts, and enhanced senses.
My Take: The Callsantos sisters came up in a poor Puerto Rican family in the Bronx. Lucia’s the oldest, Maria was born right after her. They both had two younger siblings, Carolina and Mateo, who both died under circumstances that most likely involved Maria. They killed and covered up the murder of their mother and abusive stepfather after their mutant powers manifested. They’ve both been members of the Morlocks, X-Force, the Mutant Liberation Front and the X-Corporation. Though Lucia is more rational, Maria embraces her animalistic nature. Making her unpredictable to friend and foe alike. Her fiery Latin temper and abused impoverished upbringing made her even more…well, feral. Fabian Nicieza created both characters and fleshed out their backgrounds, reflecting the variety he added to his characters that he was known for handling back then. They were both also among the many depowered on M-Day. In the end, they were reduced to stock characters with a powerless Feral being brutally killed by Sabretooth. Actually, even if she had her powers, she still couldn’t take Victor Creed.
Real Name: Brian Cruz
First Appearance: The New Mutants (Vol. 2) #10, May 2004
Powers: Tag was born with the mutant power to attach (or ‘tag’) people and objects with specific signals that broadcast on psionic wavelengths. He created two different signals which worked in tandem with each other to produce a desired effect. One signal marked someone or something as “it”, making them the “sender” who broadcasted a certain message into the environment which was undetectable by anyone unless Tag chose to make them “receivers”, and thus susceptible to the sender’s message. Tag could make himself “it” or any person or object he came into contact with, and “receivers” could be tagged from a distance, just by willing it to be so. Tag’s primary broadcast was to compel receivers to get away from the sender: Their conscious minds were submerged beneath the overriding drive to put distance between them and who- or whatever is “it”. The effect lasted until the receivers got far enough away from the sender that the compulsion faded, or until the sender was too far away from Tag for him to sustain the effect. Tag also learned how to create a new signal, which compels receivers to get closer and closer to the sender.
My Take: Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a mother who actually supported mutant rights, Brian was destined to end up at Xavier’s. Like Wind Dancer, he’s drawn to Julian Keller and becomes best friends with him. Again, he’s another mutant depowered on M-Day. Not only that, but he met his death in the worst way possible soon after. All of the depowered mutants at Xavier’s were to be sent home on a bus. A bus that was secretly bombed and then detonated by anti-mutant Christian zealot William Stryker and his Purifiers. I included him on this level of the list because of how unique his power is. In fact, in the “New X-Men Yearbook” issue released in 2007-2008, he was voted as “most confusing”.
Real Name: Manuel Alfonso Rodrigo de la Rocha
First Appearance: The New Mutants (Vol. 1) #16, June 1984
Powers: Empath was born with the mutant ability to telepathically sense the emotional states, desires and moods of others people around him. He can psionically manipulate and alter their emotions into any state he wishes (love, hate, fear, etc.). Empath can also use his power to project his own emotional state onto others.
My Take: Rude, condescending, and of Spanish nobility, ol’ Manny right here values his royal status far above his mutant status. Not that he doesn’t enjoy being a mutant, it’s just that he likes his power so much more. He views people as servants made to cater to his every whim. He’s arrogant, so much so that he lead a small group of marginally trained Hellions against the X-Men and then suffered the wrath of headmistress Emma Frost. He even then tried to use his emotion-altering power on Frost, completely ignoring the fact that Frost is a telepath whose abilities are vastly superior to his. Emma let him think he had the upper hand and then hit him with a psionic one-two combo: She stunned him with a mental bolt and put a lock on his power so he couldn’t use it at all. Talk about “punk’d”. He left the Hellions and eventually joined the side of the angels via Xavier’s X-Corporation, but his powers meant that he could never truly be trusted. Didn’t “The Princess Bride” also have a line about not trusting Spaniards?
Real Name: Angel Salvadore
First Appearance: New X-Men #118, November 2001
Powers: Tempest was born with an insectoid-based mutation. It gives her gossamyr-thin wings which extend from her back and produce enough lift for her to fly. The wings can also create hypersonic frequencies with their vibrations that can be quite painful to hear or disrupt electronic equipment. Tempest can vomit up a powerful biological acid to partially digest her meals prior to consumption or assault an opponent. She possesses a reproductive system that involved laying eggs with a complete gestation period of only five days from conception to birth.
My Take: Angel’s a mixed-race Hispanic who’s straight outta the trailer like Kid Rock. She’s got a insect/housefly mutation, but nowhere near the level of grossness of Seth Brundle. During her time at the Xavier Institute, she hooked up with and got knocked up by a fellow mutant student who qualifies as a literal Dutch birdman. Like Wind Dancer, she was also depowered during M-Day, and joined the New Warriors under a different code name. Following the disbandment, she now lives in NYC where she shares an apartment with her children and their father. A Grant Morrison creation, she was definitely one of the highlights of his run on “New X-Men”.
Real Name: Julio Esteban Richter
First Appearance: X-Factor (Vol. 1) #17, June 1987
Powers: Rictor has the mutant ability to generate seismic energy. He can release this energy as vibratory waves from his body to cause any nearby objects to shake, crumble, shatter or disintegrate, destabilize the ground beneath him to cause earth tremors, and focus his emissions into vibe-quakes, tightened seismic shockwaves with tremendous concussive force. He is immune to the harmful effects of his power. He also had at least some level of psychic attunement to geological phenomena, allowing him to “feel” the earth beneath his feet and detect changes in the environment around him.
My Take: Lemme just get this outta the way first: Rictor’s the last character appearing on this list who was depowered on M-Day. I write “was” because he eventually got his powers back somehow. Also, look at his code name “Rictor”. The writers couldn’t think of a cooler code name that reflects his powers, so they chose to alter the spelling of his Anglo surname: Like “Victor”, but with an “R”. A White Mexican whose father was a weapons smuggler for Stryfe. He watched a helmet-less Stryfe kill his father in cold-blood, so it’s understandable why he hated Cable so much upon meeting him (Stryfe is Cable’s clone ya’ll). He’s been part of several X-teams since his first appearance, but never the main one. He’s had heterosexual relationships (especially with Wolfsbane), but when he was brought over to X-Factor, they decided to make him a gay character. Adding that dimension to the character, when it was never even hinted upon, just came out of left-field. But then again, he was powerless at the time he was added to the roster, so playing with the character’s sexuality allowed Peter David to sustain Rictor’s value to the book.
Real Name: Angelo Espinosa
First Appearance: The Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #317, October 1994
Powers: Skin’s mutation granted him somewhere between three to six additional feet of skin hanging on his body. Through psionic means, Skin could manipulate all of his skin at will. His skin was naturally more elastic and had greater tensile strength than normal flesh. Though he usually extended the flesh around his hands or feet, Skin could extend his skin from any point on his body. He could wrap his skin around solid objects to grip or immobilize, ball up his skin into lumps to dampen impact, or shape his skin into pointed spikes or small, hard bola balls. His mutant power left his skin tone with a light gray hue. When relaxed or unconscious, Skin’s extra skin sagged and gave him the appearance of a melted candle, but with concentration Skin could contract the extra skin and pass for a normal human.
My Take: Scott Lobdell had good ideas for characters when he was a scribe for the X-books. Not only did he take a cue from Chris Claremont’s book of diversifying mutant characters in terms of racial and economic backgrounds, but also giving them characteristics someone can relate to. Born and raised in an East-Los Angeles barrio, Angelo Espinosa was part of a Latino gang in his neighborhood when his mutant power manifested. Faking his death to escape the gang life and then going into hiding, he was captured by the Phalanx which led to his association with the 1990s X-Men junior team, Generation X. Lobdell’s departure led to other writers having the character crucified and killed. Chuck Austen (who should never even be allowed to write an X-title forever) even gave him the wrong last name: “Torres”.
A teenaged Latin ex-gangbanger whose mutant status forced him to fake his death and start over, from Angelo Espinosa to Skin. It’s sort of like “A History of Violence”. In both cases, the past caught up with both characters. Plus, his mutant powers gave readers a new take on mutant deformity, what with the character also being a developing teen and all. Skin could go out in public, but not with some stares, something that added to his insecurity about his appearance. He got along best with Jubilee, Synch and especially Chamber. The banter between firecracker Latino and mouthless Brit was very entertaining.
Real Name: Cecilia Reyes
First Appearance: X-Men (Vol. 2) #65, June 1997
Powers: Cecilia’s mutant ability generates a psioplasmic bio-field. This field constantly surrounds her body at every given moment, completely invisible, and only takes on a glass-like translucency when subconsciously activated by a threat. The field reacts to kinetic impact, energy signatures, certain psionic forces, temperature changes, etc. The bio-field is an extension of Cecilia’s body, and so she feels the attack as its effect is dispersed over the field. Her power is subconscious, meaning it protects her from harm whether she wants it to or not, or is aware of the harm or not. However, the field would not activate for threats it did not register (back when the power was purely instinctive). For instance, Cecilia might know touching fire is dangerous, but her field would not automatically protect her from contact with it. It’s unknown if the field has any kind of “learning capacity” that registers when a new sort of threat bypasses its protection. Cecilia has also learned how to manifest the field at will, as a weapon. Surrounding her fists with psioplasmic force can increase the bludgeoning power behind her punches, she can extend razor pointed spikes from the field, expel the field outward in a hammer-like ram, etc.
My Take: She’s like Jennifer Lopez: Puerto Rican from the Bronx. She witnessed her father’s murder at a young age, which was the impetus for her becoming a successful doctor with a specialty in trauma surgery. She was aware of and loathed her mutant nature, concealing it with an air of bigotry.
After being outed as a mutant, her career was left in ruins and she reluctantly joined the X-Men. First as an official member and later as a resident trauma surgeon with her own practice. Throughout both tenures, she maintained a level of snark to mask her insecurities about being a mutant. Dr. Reyes’ time with the X-Men allowed her to gradually accept her mutation and place among a hated minority. Up until Dr. Reyes, I don’t think the X-Men had any members of Hispanic origin. Had Scott Lobdell remained on the X-Titles long enough to have developed this character, she could’ve been a key female character on the roster. Like every one on this list, she’s a minority in a minority…only she was in denial about it for years until she eventually came around. It’s a complexity that serves as my reason as to why I chose Dr. Reyes as my number one Hispanic mutant character in Marvel.
Also, she went through a period where she was addicted to a narcotic that boosted her powers. The withdrawal effects were intense, but my point with this addition is that if you combine it with her deadpan wit and medical degree, Cecilia Reyes predated Gregory House by nearly ten years.
All images appear courtesy of the Marvel Entertainment Group.