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  • Rose Padilla

Temporal Legacies: Quetzalcoatl # 1 & 2

Updated: Mar 12




Herminia Ximenez is always short on time. The protagonist of Mickey Martinez, Sam Jimenez, and Ana Maria Richardson's Quetzalcoatl is a young Chicana in constant motion, racing from one physical space to another as she rushes to complete artwork at the Día de los Muertos celebration, rushes into work at the local soup kitchen, and rushes out of her grandmother’s funeral to grieve in private. Herminia embodies the struggle to be present, especially within her existing network of family, friends, and community.



The aesthetic design in Quetzalcoatl—from Herminia’s long, flowing hair that has a life of its own to the motion lines that frequently shadow her movements from one panel to the next— suggests to readers that the inability to be still is building up momentum towards an inevitable collision.


It does. A sudden car accident—correlated to a sinister, laughing voice— pulls Herminia out of the physical realm and into the lush, vibrant espiritu mundial. There, Herminia has no choice but to adhere to the metaphysical temporality of the spiritual world, and in the process, begin to grapple with the supernatural forces she has inherited from her grandmother and the long line of Mayan spirit warriors from which she is descended.




Quetzalcoatl essentially meshes Latinx coming of age and superhero awakening, grounded in colorful mythos surrounding the plumed serpent god of ancient Mesoamerica. Think of Marvel’s Kamala Khan in Miss Marvel or Disney’s American Dragon: Jake Long: the modern-day BIPOC youth shapeshifts into powerful forms to battle against perennial forces of evil, refashioning the mythological hero and his feats into a more contemporary timeline. What stands out in Quetzalcoatl is its treatment of time as multicultural currency for its Latinx protagonist. In her fast-paced world pre-accident, Herminia adheres to a Western temporality constructed by movement from one time commitment to another.

Quetzalcoatl essentially meshes Latinx coming of age and superhero awakening, grounded in colorful mythos surrounding the plumed serpent god of ancient Mesoamerica.

In an early scene from issue #1, Herminia repeats “ITS LATE ITS LATE ITS LATE” like a mantra as she runs through the neighborhood. In another, she drives away from the funeral and counts down her inevitable acceptance of her grandmother’s death, thinking “Here comes another hour.”  Espiritu mundial after the accident suggests a different, indigenous temporality; there, past and present flow in synchrony, as do myth and reality, good and evil, lineage and inheritance.


Herminia’s navigation of temporality in espiritu mundial even recalls imagery from Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera, in particular the officiating priestess at the metaphorical crossroads where suturing of spiritual and emotional wounds are made possible. Quetzalcoatl effectively grapples with the idea that being present is constrained only to the current moment. At the end of issue #2 when Herminia wakes up in a hospital bed, she has shapeshifted into a hybrid being. The left side of her body sports snakelike fangs, bird talons, and vivid green and blue plumage. She has begun to manifest in the present day the legacy of her grandmother and the pre-colonial, Mesoamerican past.

Espiritu mundial after the accident suggests a different, indigenous temporality; there, past and present flow in synchrony, as do myth and reality, good and evil, lineage and inheritance.

In the contemporary sociopolitical climate of the U.S., nuanced representations of brown bodies and indigenous culture are sorely needed as counternarratives to negative coverage via news and political talking points. Quetzalcoatl adds to these representations with an unabashedly colorful flair. At its heart, however, Quetzalcoatl also repurposes what any young person, Latinx or otherwise, might hope to find in fantasy genre graphic fictions: an escape into realms of colorful high fantasy, a wealth of mythological source material, just the right amount of teenage angst and drama, and through it all, the sense that even the most mundane moments experienced by the characters with their loved ones—and by extension, the reader— are worthwhile legacies in hindsight. 

In the contemporary sociopolitical climate of the U.S., nuanced representations of brown bodies and indigenous culture are sorely needed as counternarratives to negative coverage via news and political talking points.

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