It’s finally here! Reptil #1 finally hit comic book shelves last Tuesday, reintroducing fans to a longtime member of Marvel’s heroes gallery. Humberto Lopez, a.k.a Reptil, finally gets his own solo series, taking us deeper into the life of the teenage dino-shifting hero. But the emphasis isn’t on Beto’s life as a superhero. Amidst the disbanding of the Avengers Academy team and the world-changing effects of Kamala’s Law, writer Terry Blas takes on a personal journey for Beto — introducing us to several members of his family and delivering a comic proud to represent the Latinx community in a fresh, inspiring way.
Following the approval and enforcement of Kamala’s Law, which saw teenage superheroes basically outlawed across the board, Beto decides that it might be time to hang up his “cowl” and spend more time with his family.
It’s a decision explained in fuller detail at the beginning of the comic, which features a quick recap of Beto’s previous encounters with the Avengers, and his time as Norman Osborn’s prisoner, before revealing the main reason for Beto’s early retirement; his abuelo’s mysterious sickness.
His abuelo, Papa Vic, has been a major part of Beto’s life, even when he became a superhero. He became Beto’s legal guardian after his parents went missing during an excavation dig, and he even gave Beto the name “Reptil” when the teen decided to become a superhero. We aren’t told what’s going on with Papa Vic and his sickness in this first issue, but in just a few short panels, we’re shown the importance of him in Beto’s life. As well as the importance of family, community, and culture in regards to the series.
That is truly the greatest strength of Reptil #1. This is a Marvel Comic we’re talking about, so tons of action, heroics, and threatening bad guys was a given. What you may not expect from Reptil’s solo series however, is the strong sense of Latinx pride that resonates throughout the entire first issue.
Well, you might have expected it if you’ve read any of Terry Blas’ other works. Blas has always incorporated the notion of Latinx pride in his stories. Hotel Dare is a fine example, telling a story layered with Latinx culture among the magic, mystery, and mayhem. Reptil #1 is a similar case.
The story doesn’t even get to the high-stakes, “dino-tastic” (I never said I was good with puns) battle shown in the previews until the ending arc of the issue. Instead, we’re introduced to Beto’s aunt and his cousins, furthering the emphasis on family, and taken on a tour of the Santee Alley fashion distrcit in Los Angeles.
This focus on family and culture is what makes Reptil #1 shine among Marvel’s other recent offerings. The feeling I had reading it what was akin to the feeling I had when Miles Morales finally got his big-screen break with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Beto’s journey may be fantastical, but at its core it is a grounded story that so many young Latinx readers can relate to. Not to mention a chance for them to finally see themselves within the pages they’re reading.
I can’t tell you how excited I was just to see Beto and his family speaking Spanish without any asterisks leading parenthetical translations. It’s a small gesture, but a powerful one that helps to display the heritage and culture present in the comic.
Reptil #1 is unashamedly proud of its Latinx heritage and shines a light on a culture hardly ever represented in comics. It welcomes us into Beto’s life, transforming him from a lesser known Marvel character to a familiar member of our own families.
You can check your local comic store for a copy of Reptil #1 today! And be on the lookout for #2, hitting shelves June 23.