February 29, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #118: Silverclaw

An Avenger created by Kurt Busiek and George Perez that seems to have more or less vanished and isn't Triathlon.

Kurt Busiek and George Perez had a pretty good Avengers run.  Busiek seems to possess a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the team that he was able to draw upon, and Perez is probably the artist most associated with the Avengers thanks to many years and multiple runs drawing them.  Oddly enough, the two original characters put onto the team by these two highly respected creators didn’t make much of a splash with readers, and neither of them have been seen much since.  The first was Triathlon, and I’ve covered him already.

The second was a young woman called Silverclaw.

She’s silver? Check. Has claws? Check. OK, her name checks out.

Silverclaw was one Maria de Guadelupe Santiago.  She came from the fictional country of Costa Verde and came to the United States to study at Empire State University where for all I know, Peter Parker is still trying to graduate.  She had a sponsor in the form of longtime Avengers butler Edwin Jarvis.  He’d decided on a whim to send money to one of those “save the children” type charities and got her.

I know comics are often built on coincidence, but it says something when Jarvis donates to charity based on some TV commercials he just happened to see and the probably randomly selected child turns out to have superpowers.  What would have happened if he’d seen one of those sad-dogs-and-cats-in-cages commercials that the Humane Society and the like run?

Probably this.

What powers did Maria, nicknamed “Lupe” for people who thought “Maria” was too hard, possess?  She could partially transform and gain the attributes of any South American jungle animal.  She could turn into half human jaguars, birds, snakes, llamas, monkeys…you name it, if it lives in a South American jungle, she can do it.

Yes. Anything. Even ones that don’t seem particularly useful.

Now, Lupe was actually born with these powers, but she wasn’t some mutant.  No, her powers were mystical.  Her mother was a volcano goddess named Pelaili.  Now, why the daughter of a volcano goddess would have animal powers I couldn’t tell you.  Theoretically, it might not be her mom.  Her dad studied the ancient beliefs and would go off into the mountains to converse with the old goddess and one day came back with a baby girl in his arms.  He only claimed said girl was the daughter of the volcano goddess.  Said girl did something weird during her baptism.

Pictured: something weird.

And, of course, she was picked on by kids her age because it’s always smart to pick on the person with superpowers.

We should give Lupe enough credit, and perhaps understand why she disappeared, in that she only ever accepted reserve status while Busiek was writing his Avengers run.  She wanted to continue with her studies (whatever they were), and being a full-time Avenger was probably out of the question.  And then when Busiek left…she became one of those background characters, the ones that appear in large groups of whatever, forgotten heroes that are vaguely familiar enough to deal with when you need someone sort of expendable to make a quick cameo.

Like here, where she is giving Living Lightning orders in Spanish as part of some Initiative team no one really remembers.

So, how is it that two respected creators like Busiek and Perez managed to whip up such forgettable Avengers?  Well, maybe the answer is the same as how a volcano goddess’ daughter gets animal powers:  we probably shouldn’t think about it too hard.