Hands down, my favorite class to teach is AP Comparative Government and Politics. Why? Because it allows students to go in-depth on countries they tend to not learn about in their traditional history courses and learn how/why decisions were made from the seat of power. The three countries students tend to be the most interested in are: Nigeria, Iran, and Mexico. Why? When they learn about those countries in other courses, it's either through the veil of colonialism or through the lens of how they are wrought with "problems" in the modern era.
Mexico is especially interesting to teach about, because kids know so little about their southern neighbor, and a large degree of my Hispanic students don't get to learn about a country they or their families once called home (yes, I have a large Mexican population, I'm not painting with broad brush strokes. Today, I'm especially excited because I can use a comic to help show that one thing which persists through Mexico's modern history from revolution to present is Hope. Which is the message clearly conveyed in today's book.
Seis Cuerdas, Defender of Mexico 1-3 (Source Point Press)
Seis Cuerdas follows a long tradition of creating a folk hero, or evolving a folk hero into a modern superhero. Through one of the narrative elements of the book, narcotruth.com, we learn of the power superheroes have in uniting the public in a common goal. From fighting organized crime to defeating the Nazis to assisting refugees, there is a superhero who fights for everyone, leaving our masked podcast host asking "Who fights for us [Mexican Citizens]?"
Mexico's history gives us revolutionaries of elevated status like Pancho Villa or Emiliano Zapata, but in the world of fiction (and this book) the existence and/or representation of a Mexican superhero is virtually non-existent. In fact, creator Anthony Rella notes "To my knowledge, Seis Cuerdas is one of the first Mexican superheroes in American Comics." Regardless of if I would be drawn to the story, this call to representation definitely piques my interest.
Seis Cuerdas introduces us to Dantes, an almost-famous Mariachi who biologically doesn't need to sleep, but is otherwise a seemingly normal man who wants to fight for Mexico. (If you're wondering who Moe is...it's his cat...just a normal ass cat, and not a random super-animal). Dantes wants to help his fellow citizens fight against the stranglehold of drug violence and/or cartels that are a daily challenge to life throughout Mexico.
Writing about the Mexican drug war is something which can be both inherently challenging and deeply personal. Rella also speaks about this challenge when he notes "the challenge for me was to create a comic steeped in the disturbing reality of the Mexican drug war that does not support a view that drug violence is what defines Mexican identity or make light of real pain and suffering, but is still a fun read."
The Spoiler Free Summary
Second, I think the book does a great job highlighting the disruptiveness and corruption surrounding the War on Drugs, but makes it feel less impending by creating a villain with ties to religion and not a greater stake in the Drug War. Finally, I feel like he creates a hero for Mexico which could be rich in both the pop culture tradition of Captain America but also steeped in the legacy of folks like Villa or Zapata.
Third, can we talk about how smoking hot the art is in this book? Here are a couple of no-context panels to highlight how much of a badass Gallego is!
Should You Buy This Book?
The journey of a 30-something father of three who's trying to break into the world of reviewing comics after a loooooong hiatus...
Rimmey is a high school history/government teacher & speech and debate coach in Kansas. He has slowly been rediscovering his love for comics since June of 2019.
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