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Bunker: No More Caramba!

To say that I’m a fan of the current version of Teen Titans would be wrong. My intention was not to buy or read the series at all. The premise about a secret organization called NOWHERE led by an individual with the nom de guerre Harvest who’s in search of super teens for his own nefarious puposes, and Robin, excuse me, Red Robin’s efforts to contact super teens for protection and to infiltrate NOWHERE in an effort to rescue any captured teens did not resonate with my fan boy sensibilities. Brett Booth’s art style seems off to me. Eyes drawn by him are often set too far apart and his sense of anatomical proportion is likewise off. And the villains are tiresome retreads of noxious, gnarly nineties baddies in both characterization and design. My only reason for spending my $1.95 every month thanks to a discount is to see how Miguel Jose Barragan, AKA Bunker, is developed and handled.

That Lobdell intended for the character to be angst free and comfortable being a gay teen is appreciated. Likewise, I have no problem with Bunker’s personality and where Lobdell has made Red Robin the de facto leader, I think he is making Bunker the team’s heart and soul. All is not good though. Lobdell’s choice of phrases to use in Bunker’s dialog make it read like someone’s uninformed idea of how Mexicans speak. Let me be upfront by saying that my knowledge of Spanish is extremely limited but my lack of knowledge doesn’t mean I like to settle. Here are examples:

Madre or Madre de Dios (#3 and #6)
Chica (#3, #4, #8)
Fabuloso (also the name of a cleaning product) (#5)
Amigo, rather than the more familiar mijo/mija (#6, #10)
And the one that grates more than all –
Caramba! (#3, #5, #6, #10)

No examples of these or similar phrases could be found in issues #7 or #9 or the annual, nor has Superboy #11 with a guest appearance by Bunker been released as I write this. There may be instances in #7 or #9 or the annual, but I simply can’t make myself look through them a third time to read Bunker’s dialog. Am I being realistic in thinking Bunker’s phrases are unrealistic? I may not be fluent in Spanish, especially as spoken by Mexicans, so I looked through an equal number of my old Love & Rockets. In looking through them I came across one instance of “mijo/mija” from #1 and several passages of dialog in Spanish. Neither Maggie or Hopey or any of the other characters in stories from any of the Los Bros once said Caramba! Granted my informal study is flawed since I haven’t checked every L & R book to determine how or if contemporary phrases are used by Jaime, Gilbert, or Mario but I’m going to hazard a guess and say the likelihood they, singly or collectively, have a character say “Caramba”is not as high as percentage to date that Bunker uses it.

In short, Mr. Lobdell, it will be greatly appreciated if you could find new phrases that make Miguel’s ethnicity seem more nuanced. The list here and others found in its links may be a helpful place to start

March 7, 2015
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