Without Hesitation: An Interview With `A La Brava’ Writer Kayden Phoenix

by Tom Smithyman

Kayden Phoenix and her creative team are launching the world’s first Latina superhero team at next month’s New York Comic Con. Over the past few years, she has introduced the individual characters, and soon they will come together as a team called A La Brava to fight female injustices. In an interview, Phoenix discusses the team’s origins and why they are fighting injustices.

Tom Smithyman: A La Brava is billed as the world’s first Latina superhero team. What took so long to get this kind of representation in comics?

Kayden Phoenix: I don’t know why we don’t have representation in comics; probably better off asking the major publications. I know I created them because I wanted positive representation of Latinas. I wanted to create a superhero mindset for all marginalized individuals, particularly Latine. I created five original characters with origin stories then put them as a team. They just happened to be the first Latina superhero team in comic book history. It’s bittersweet.

Smithyman: Would you briefly describe the superhero team members and what makes them unique?

Phoenix: Each of their powers and skills are grounded and that was on purpose because they tackle real-world issues. Jalisco dances folklorico, Mexican traditional dance, and has blades come out from under her dress. Santa has divine strength and déjà vu. Loquita is my supernatural teen detective who tries to save ghosts before their human form dies. Ruca has instant karma. Bandita is my gunslinger who has a bullet-bounce, meaning she can ricochet bullets off walls.

Smithyman: My Spanish is very rusty. What does A La Brava mean and what message are trying to send?

Phoenix: Actually it means “without hesitation.” It’s like when two boxers are fighting and they go “a la brava” – all out and without hesitation – until one of them falls. And that’s how Latinas are – we fight to exist because we have no choice in this patriarchal, racist society. My superheroes fight a la brava because the go up against social injustices and they’re fighting for the bigger picture, for a cause.

Smithyman: You’re based on the West Coast, and this is your first time at New York Comic Con. Why did you choose this event to launch the team?

Phoenix: Because New York is amazing! My superhero origin stories weren’t seen much because they were created during the pandemic and now that we’re in calmer seas, NYCC seems like the perfect place to debut them.

Smithyman: Not only are the heroes Latina but so is your entire creative team. How important for you was having the behind-the-scenes group reflect the heroes you’ve created?

Phoenix: It’s absolutely important to talk to the talk and walk the walk. I’ve seen so many productions talking about representation (even whole documentaries about it) and then you look at the credits and no one is diverse. Like, they missed the whole point of their own production. Half-baked isn’t excusable nowadays, you know? I just believe in representation on and off camera, on and behind the page. Like, why wouldn’t you want it to be authentic? We haven’t seen the female eye, specifically the Latina eye. And since I self-publish, I’m honored that I can bring in such amazing skilled artists, that just happen to be Latina.

Smithyman: What kind of villains will the group be battling?

Phoenix: In the individual origin stories, the superheroes fight villains that head injustices. For example, Jalisco takes on a boss who’s in charge of the femicide and Santa takes on ICE (personified as Irene Chavez-Estevez) who’s running for mayor in her border town. For A La Brava, the team up book, they battle against sexism. The villain is trying to roll back female rights by killing female politicians in high government positions. Then by using the internet, the villain rallies support from MRA (men’s rights) groups and incels who say that it’s not safe for females and they should stay inside.

Smithyman: These are tough issues you are tackling. Why did you choose the comic book medium to address those topics?

Phoenix: The comic book medium is just another form of storytelling, and storytelling reflects democracy. It’s evident we don’t get our justice, and that’s why my superheroes save the girls from femicide, domestic violence, ICE (forced hysterectomies), trafficking, etc.

Smithyman: Thanks for your time, and good with luck the launch.

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