The confusing case of DC's Hispanic Heritage Month Kyle Rayner cover
What went wrong: How DC's Hispanic Heritage Month Kyle Rayner came to be (but was never meant to be)
Across the weekend, fans on social media have been vocal about a Hispanic Heritage Month variant cover for DC’s upcoming Titans Unleashed: Bloodpact #1, which features Kyle Rayner holding a bag marked “tamales” in one hand, and a flag reading, “Viva Mexico!” There’s just one problem: that’s not actually a cover for the comic book.
The controversial artwork was widely shared online over the past few days, with fans variously describing the cover as “the most offensive and bullshit thing to happen since the term Latinx” and complaining, “this downgrade is crazy.”
The downgrade in question was from the originally solicited variant cover created for the Hispanic Heritage Month cover for the issue, created in homage to Jorge González Camarena’s 1962 painting Madre Patria by artist Jorge Molina, which he had originally shared on Twitter back in June.
For his part, Molina’s tweets on the matter suggested that he was unhappy with the substitution. “HAAAAAAARD to keep my mouth shut….all I can say is one has my signature and the other one doesn’t, go figure,” he tweeted at one point, responding to a user asking about the reason for the change with a shrug emoji. (Popverse can confirm that both covers were Molina’s work according to sources familiar with the situation.)
It wasn’t only social media where the cover was being shared; it appeared on the website of Midtown Comics, one of the largest online comic retailers in the country, as well as the site for Lunar Distribution, the exclusive distributor for DC’s single issue releases. Both of those sites (as well as many othr people) received the images directly from DC, which had included the 'tamales' covers in an email sent out to comic book retailers on August 25..
Despite this, the image was never actually intended for publication at any point, according to sources inside DC. Instead, the finished cover is a slight variation on that shared by Molina back in June, with only minor edits restoring Kyle Rayner’s Green Lantern symbol and the insignia on the Mexican national flag in the background.
In an official statement shared with Popverse, DC wrote, “It is part of DC’s internal creative process to receive and develop multiple versions of comic artwork from our artists. Some are released as variant covers, others are never used. This weekend, an image by Jorge Molina was incorrectly reported to be DC’s official cover for Titans United: Bloodpact #1. DC is committed to celebrating diversity and is proud to honor Hispanic Heritage Month.”
So… what happened?
According to those with knowledge of the situation, the 'tamales' image shared this weekend was created by Molina as a placeholder alternate during a brief period when it was unclear whether or not DC would be legally allowed to use Molina’s original image due to its connection to the Camarena painting, and was not seriously considered as a publishable alternative. Molina was personally responsible for the edits, at the request of DC editorial. The cover was sent out to retailers by DC in error at a time when the final decision on the image had not been made by DC.
Although he seemed initially confused by the public appearance of the edited image, Molina took to Twitter to correct the record Tuesday, sharing the finalized and official cover for the first time in the process.
“Good news everyone,” he tweeted. “I’m Excited to share the official DC Hispanic Heritage Month cover for Titans United: Bloodpact #1. The homage to La Patria is what is going out on the comic. Sorry for the confusion — the edited version I drew was an alternative option, not final.”
So what does this mean?
The conversation surrounding the edited cover touched on a common theme across the Hispanic Heritage Month variant covers as a whole – namely, the use of food as a main cultural touchstone, which has been criticized as being reductive and demeaning to Hispanic culture as a whole.
It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t the first time that DC has used food as a thematic element in heritage variant covers; earlier this year, the publisher did the same for its AAPI Heritage Month variant covers with little outrage from fans or media (though, to be fair, it wasn't the majority of the covers that heavily featured food in that case). Similarly, the earlier release of other covers for next month’s Hispanic Heritage Month variants drew little attention ahead of the controversy over the incorrect Titans Unleashed: Bloodpact cover; did the issue simply fly under the radar until something truly egregious – like, for example, replacing Green Lantern’s lantern with a bag marked “tamales” – drew attention?
Check out Jorge Molina’s final artwork for Titans Unleashed: Bloodpact #1 below.
It isn’t just events in the real world that are stirring conversation about DC; the current Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths series is drawing no small amount of attention as it prepares to restore the multiverse that was. Check out this chat with creators Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere about the most recent issue.