'Aztec of the City:' America's First Latino Superhero Comic Book Series
Bi-national creative effort Aztec of the City is a comic book series that chronicles the lives of two Mexican-American cousins in San Jose, Calif. who become superheroes. Widely known as America's first, and one of the only, Chicano/Latino superhero comic book series, it was developed by creator Fernando B. Rodriguez, and later illustrated by Ernie Polo. The cousin protagonists, Tony Torres and Tony Avalos, come from two very different strides of life, but narrow to a single path because of a desire to do good.
Tony Torres is a recently released ex-con who's changed by his time in prison, and chooses to act as an avenger on the behalf of good, in order to help those who are victims of crimes. Tony Avalos, the Super-Chicano, is a 19-year-old construction worker/college student, encouraged toward greatness by his grandmother, who informs him that he comes from an ancient and mighty line of Aztec warriors.
The self-published 32-page black and white series is inspired by Rodriguez's uncle, a poet, Stan Lee, Bruce Lee, and Marvel Comic Book series, all of which encouraged him since he was twelve to create his own superheroes. His desire to read and create comic books from the Latin American perspective was confronted by the reality that there were no Latino-centric comic books available on the shelves.
"I was at a Brian's Books comic book store in Santa Clara buying 'Daredevil' when it dawned on me that there wasn't anything 'Mexican' and believe me I looked all through that store, wondering why in the heck I hadn't seen that void in the comic book industry earlier and from that I went about creating a Mexican-American comic book hero, and the 'Aztec of the City' was born. I was further convinced by reading the odd-shaped black and white comic book, 'Brotherman,' an African-American hero put together by the Sims brothers in Texas." Rodriguez said during an interview with David Madrid of 91.3 FMKKUP.
Rather than base his characters in a mystical city or a great metropolitan area, Rodriguez decided to plant the characters of the comic in San Jose, Calif. He does it to pay respect to his mother, friends and family. He also uses the comic as an instrument to teach Chicano/Latino/Mexican children in the U.S. about their history and culture in a way that's engaging and memorable.
"I'd like to pass away knowing I left some pretty cool comic books in this world. Stories liked by Latino/Chicano/Mexican kids living in America, which help them remember and appreciate their culture and history," said Rodriguez. "Comic books are a great introduction to reading and hopefully from 'Aztec of the City,' young readers and fans would elevate to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Victor Villasenor's, or even classics like Tolstoy's. I think it contributes simply by existing as an alternative to mainstream popular heroes and books."
Rodriguez is now working on 'Aztec of the City' Vol. 3 No. 2, which will revolve around fallen princess Popocapatepeti, and her relation to the comic's protagonists.