After making headlines in the summer of 2015, El Peso Hero became the first comic by a Latino to recreate the iconic Captain America cover. Now, El Peso is returning to the pages via a new series, “The Essentials,” and we catch up with proud creator Hector Rodriguez.
“If a book doesn’t have a message, it doesn’t have a soul,” shared Rodriguez. And that soul was born of a need to represent his community.
Rodriguez recalled the time when he moved out of the border region to live in Central Texas. He remembered what it felt to be “the only Latino in the entire comic store.”
It was that precise moment that motivated him to create a character that could represent and defend his community.
With that, Ignacio – El Peso Hero – was born; a superhero who embodies the core values of immigrant Latinx communities. As a unique character, Ignacio protects immigrants, Latinxs, and those underrepresented community members who live in the United States.
Taking a page from real life, the comic book series incorporates stories that go from families being deported, to paying homage to those immigrants who are in the front lines against COVID-19.
Telenovelas, soap operas in Latin America, had a big influence on Rodriguez growing up and served as an inspiration to build the foundation story of El Peso Hero.
“It’s a story by Ignacio figuring out his identity, who he really is, his sense of belonging… there twists there are turns, hooks, surprises like a [tele]novela”
Rodriguez says that once the global pandemic started to dominate the news, his fans started asking him for stories around COVID-19 and El Peso Hero taking a stand.
He acknowledged it was hard to portray a hero who can’t beat the coronavirus and end the story on a happy note. That’s when the idea of stepping back and telling the stories of immigrants as essential workers took over.
“Realistically, he can’t punch COVID, he [El Paso Hero] needed to take a supporting role. It’s supporting real heroes in our communities in the front lines, they are essential workers,” Rodriguez says.
As Rodriguez describes it, having the character take a back seat in his own story has allowed the El Peso Hero to give voices to those immigrants who have been heavily affected by the pandemic, especially undocumented immigrants.
Since the pandemic and lockdown orders were put in place, farmworkers have taken their place in society as essential workers, even as most who hold these positions are undocumented and lack basic health care or employee protections.
Adding to their woes, they do not qualify for any stimulus package or help given by the American government because of their undocumented status.
Highlighting the stories of these essential workers was one of Rodriguez’s main goals when creating the “Essentials” series.
“There was a huge injustice for farmworkers not being protected adequately… A little bit of more than 50% of them [have] questionable status… They worried about not being deported and now on top of that…getting sick and bringing that to their own homes,” Rodriguez explained.
The “Essentials” series not only features farmworkers, but it also depicts the story of other heroes without a cape, the frontline workers. El Peso Hero interconnects the stories of both groups.
In the stories, El Peso Hero helps these workers by handing out face masks, pushing a nurse’s truck after she run out of gas, among other acts.
Additionally, Rodriguez has made available the Coronavirus edition for free. He simply says that he believes his comic books can serve as a platform to educate future generations of Latinxs and have a better representation of “our communities.”
To that end, Rodriguez is serving up the superhero he never had to motivate his students and younger generations.
When he’s not wielding the pen and ink, Rodriguez is a bilingual teacher in the North Dallas area; he shares that most of his students are a mix of first and second generation of Latinxs, and that’s why he sees El Peso Hero as an opportunity for younger generations of Latinxs/children of immigrants.
“It’s important to have that positive representation. It is a fictional hero, but it is a Latino hero, Chicanx… [young people] have that reflection that they can be a hero, they can see their parents as frontline workers, that their parents are the heroes supporting the community. That when they see their parents as they can see Captain America, Wonder Woman.”
For more information on El Peso Hero, visit the website