Comic-Con 2018: What superhero would best represent SoCal? Readers react

Cosplayers show off their stuff during 2017 Comic-Con International in San Diego.
(Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images)

Veterans of San Diego Comic-Con International and newcomers alike can expect to see countless fans dressed up as Gotham’s Batman, Themyscira’s Wonder Woman and more iconic characters throughout the weekend.

But what about a newer, more local superhero? As the convention kicks off Thursday (and in the spirit of fighting franchise fatigue), we asked readers of all ages to get creative and pitch their ideas of a Southern California superhero.

Our picks for the top five are below, edited for length and clarity. Maybe this time next year an SDCC cosplayer will bring their visions to life.

Red Sun, by Reginald Nelson

Age group: 35-44

Residence: Los Angeles

(Reginald Nelson)

Red Sun is the story of the disgraced Marine turned classical musician Miles Moto and his struggle to regain his honor by becoming a modern-day samurai vigilante in downtown Los Angeles.

Moto is like an Asian American Bruce Wayne and heir to Moto Motors, an international automotive empire, headquartered in downtown Los Angeles. He is a former Marine lieutenant who was educated at Caltech and now plays the clarinet for the L.A. Philharmonic. He represents in popular culture Southern California’s large and grossly undervalued Japanese American community. Moto is a billionaire who has decided to fight for the vulnerable and destitute of skid row by becoming a high-tech urban samurai. The Red Sun battles the Yakuza, Armenian thugs, Filipino hit men, corrupt cops, greedy developers and anyone else who preys upon the homeless population of downtown.

Caged Soul, by Frank Torres

Age group: 55-64

Residence: Homeless, living in a tent by the freeway

Caged Soul, a teenage boy who obtained 4-D capability when accidentally exposed to the effects of the first weaponized singularity device, i.e. Black Hole Bomb, returns to L.A. to seek revenge against the powerful who exploit the weak. Not only can he walk through walls with immunity from bullets, but he also enters and possesses the bodies of others to control their minds and talents. There is no secret he cannot know. No skill he cannot use or perform. A wise man told him when he first gained 4-D powers, “The body is but a cage for the soul, you are now a soul looking for a cage. Only God can be everywhere and do everything, you are now like a god. It remains to be seen if you can remain a benevolent one!” Obviously, Caged Soul is Latino like the soon majority here. He knows how the greed and corruption of those in power exploit his people. The reason he left L.A. with his family to work at the secret site — where he obtained his 4-D powers — was to avoid the massive roundups of the undocumented.

La Mama, by Briana Ancona

Age group: 13-17

Residence: Whittier

La Mama, or “the mother” in English, is a strong Latina woman who works hard as a cleaning lady during the day and comes to the aid of the children and others when in need. Her name is La Mama because she is nurturing, caring and will help anyone in need, for she has a heart bigger than the entire SoCal area. She never had kids, so she dedicates herself to fight for the children and help them be safe.

She is incredibly strong and has super tools like the Chancla, a sandal that acts like a boomerang to hit the bad guys from afar, and infinity pockets, which can store anything, much like my mom’s stove. And her costume would be a mixture of all the colors of the flags that represent the demographics of Southern California.

I think my character is the best representation of Southern California since we are a diverse region and much of this region has strong Latinx roots. Seeing a strong woman as a comic character would be a big step in representation, since most female characters in comics are either aliens or generally not a person of color. When I think of Southern California, I think of the Chicano movement, the riots in L.A. and the safe haven this region has become for me and my family.

Having a strong figure in comic books that represents a young Latina woman fighting against injustice would be a huge step forward in truly representing what Southern California is about. SoCal is free and liberal and allows everyday people to be expressive and do good. Also, in this political climate, it would be nice to see a positive portrayal of a Latina woman.

La Raza Grommi, by Harold Buchman

Age group: 18-24

Residence: Fallbrook, Calif.

His dad is a pro surf champion. His mom is a multitalented beauty from Guatemala who can cook up a storm. He inherited knowledge and abilities from both sides, plus some extra super secret sauce awakened one night as he swam though the mystic bioluminescence (and perhaps the toxic waste) of Santa Monica Bay.

The family operates as a secret team for justice from their nondescript Marisco Taco Food Truck, which passes unnoticed in almost any neighborhood. Grommi uses his superhuman surfing abilities to ride the rip tide across vast swaths of coastline to infiltrate private beaches from Malibu to La Jolla. Once he lands, he assembles his super weed whacker to mow a new trail inland that opens beach access to the common folk of sweltering inland communities.

One step ahead of the law and the Coastal Commission, Grommi strikes in the night and posts news of his exploits to social media. The kids are on their new beach the next morning. It takes a day or two for the upper crust to catch on and shut it down. But Grommi is already on to his next gig.

This is what SoCal is all about: race, class, world cuisine from a truck and the beach. It comes together here like nowhere else. Grommi encapsulates and celebrates the best of it all.

Raja Singh: Intergalactic Warrior of the San Fernando Valley, by Ben Singh Bindra

Age group: 25-34

Residence: San Fernando Valley

(Ben Singh Bindra)

Many mysteries abound around the sinuous curves of the 101 Freeway. Some even say the very secrets of the universe are scattered amid the sprawl of the San Fernando Valley. Behind the strip malls, suburban homes and unmarked warehouses; beyond the endless parking lots; and within the very hills themselves exist doors to hidden worlds.

Raja Singh, manager of the Six to Twelve Mini Mart, knows where to knock for answers. He was supposed to die in 1897 at the bloody Battle of Saragarhi. The last of the 36th Sikh regiment, a unit of 21 troops tasked with fending off an army of 10,000 invading Afghan Pashtun soldiers, Raja resigned himself to his fate, meditating while they set fire to the fortress. As the ash rained down on his fallen brothers and smoke filled the room, a ray of light burst through the window. Raja was abducted by the alien anthropologist Lili Bron and taken aboard her spaceship.

Impressed by his bravery and skill as a warrior, she chose to intervene and reveal to him the grand truth kept from the rest of humanity: The planet Earth is a pantry, playground, prison and prime-time sports arena for aliens and paranormal beings from various dimensions. Our wars and intricate conflicts are fodder for betting parlors across the universe, our strifes and struggles entertainment for their masses, and our flesh an exotically farmed delicacy.

Lili made Raja an offer he couldn’t refuse: die in that crumbling fortress, or accept the gift of eternal youth and join her in waging a cold war against the oppressive system that had secretly enslaved humanity. Raja accepted, and for 100 years fought valiantly behind the curtain of Earth’s history, saving our species on countless occasions and visiting the farthest reaches of the known universe for the sake of our tiny blue dot.

But ultimately, he failed. Humanity remains in the clutches of a vast network of different alien species, working together to exploit our civilization for their various needs. The chill of the cold war still lingers. Raja, weary after years of fighting in this perpetual war, has accepted an honorable discharge and returned to Earth.

He’s tracked down the descendants of the family he left behind a century ago to an immigrant household in the San Fernando Valley. Now, he watches over them and the rest of the Valley as a vigilant guardian in the shadows. During the day, he’s the mild-mannered manager of the Six to Twelve Mini Mart. But by night, the shutter comes down and the store converts into a bazaar of the bizarre — a convenience store and gas station for those riding the intergalactic highway. It’s a doorway hidden among the banal where trinkets, supplies, oddities, necessities, spices, weapons, antiques and confections from all over space line the shelves of a veritable McGuffin Mart.

Raja caters to beings passing through this galaxy, and the small peaceful population of aliens living in secret among us, trying to aid humanity in any way they can. Raja uses the proceeds from both businesses to do good where he can and to anonymously support his progeny. His shop is just one part of a vast underground economy built for aliens living in Los Angeles. And all of them know that when you’re in a jam, Raja Singh is your man.