Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Superheroics

When I was a kid, the world of superheroes was, for the most part, confined to geeks like myself. Today, with the enormous success of the Marvel movies, superheroes are now mainstream like never before. Given the enormous universes and the thousands of characters that Marvel, DC, and the like have created, it is unfortunate that they lack any superheroes with a Basque backstory. However, there was a Basque superhero created in Bilbao, the Burdinjaun.

Image by Iñigo Rotaetxe, found on ArtStation.
  • Burdinjaun, the Iron Lord, lived in an alternative future, in Euskopolis, a mega-metropolis that was ruled by a tyrannical figure, the Gran Dakari. Created in 1987, Burdinjaun had a retractible cesta, or jai alai basket, that he would use to throw balls of steel. He had been exposed to various chemicals and radiation, giving him his powers and converting him into a man that was part iron and part flesh. His adventures pitted him against the Gran Dakari and his brutal police force, led by Beltza, who controlled this dystopian Basque future.
  • While not a hero, and not Basque in origin, Overthrow had some Basque inspiration. A Marvel villain, this guy had a “cybernetic” cesta that threw balls of energy (seems like having a cesta was a common gimmick). Created in the late 1980s, he was one of those characters that took advantage of unique elements from some culture (in this case, a cesta) to build a whole character around. Maybe fortunately, they killed him off in 2005.
  • Perhaps featuring the only Basque superhero starring in a comic written in English, Firebrand is the story of Natali Presano, the daughter of a sorgin, or Basque witch. Born in Seattle, Natali struggles with her powers until she is taken in by her aunt, who is part of an order that is waging an ancient war in the Basque Country. Created by Jessica Chobot, Erika Lewis, and Claudia Aguirre, the story features various elements from Basque mythology.
  • Maybe the most famous Basque figure in comic books, at least in the United States, is Joanes, the Basque Whaler. Created by Guillermo Zubiaga, the comic series details the supernatural adventures of a Basque whaler. The story takes Joanes from the Basque Country to what would be known as the Americas to the depths of the ocean. To ensure success as a whaler, he sells his soul to a sea demon that then haunts his life. Guillermo is right now putting the final touches on issue number 5 of Joanes’ adventures.
  • Before Joannes, Zubiaga was a free-lance artist working for various companies. One of his jobs was ghosting the art on Marvel’s X-Force, a spin-off of the X-Men franchise. As a ghost artist, he wasn’t always given a credit line in the comic, so he left his mark by adding Basque elements to his panels, such as posters for Negu Gorriak concerts and magazines from the Basque Country.

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