Luciano Vecchio's comic "Sereno."

Editor’s Note: Luciano Vecchio (@LucianoVecchio) is a prolific comic book writer and artist living in Buenos Aires. He is an LGBTQ rights advocate who has been featured in both “Marvel’s Voices: Pride” and DC Comics’s “DC Pride” anthology and the creator of the character Sereno. The views expressed here are his own. Read more opinion articles on CNN.

CNN  — 

Something magic happens when a kid connects with superhero comics.

This pop mythology made of masks, capes and sequential panels is unlike any other medium: a unique sensory overload. It is a collective patchwork of modern legends who transcend and outlive their creators. A superhero comic hits like magic lightning and can open a channel of infinite imagination.

Luciano Vecchio

In my case, that lightning hit me as a young kid in Zárate, my own Smallville in Argentina, a corner of the Global South very, very far from where the heroes I was reading about were born. The gaps of geopolitical contrast and cultural difference between North and South America were closed with a powerful single bound.

To me, Superman and his kind really existed. Even as a child I could recognize my own superpower. To draw! To imagine heroes and give them life. With the commitment of a young Bruce Wayne’s oath to fight for justice, I swore on a pile of Spanish translation editions that drawing the comics I loved would be my job when I grew up. And either through stubbornness or precognition, it came to happen.

There are a few points of resonance between queer identity and superhero narratives. The dual identity of the closeted life, the customization of our image and presentation, the sense of otherness and finding a chosen family among peers and even the intentionally coded narrative of mutants as a metaphor for marginalized groups.  But coding through metaphor, while sometimes producing smart and less obvious reads, can also be optional and invisible to those who prefer to stay unaware of what they reject.

I grew up as a closeted queer kid in self-denial, in a cultural context with scarce representation and acceptance. Even when I wasn’t an outsider in my social surroundings, I was always an outsider to myself. I was separated from my truth and the organic emotional growth that cisgender, heterosexual people too often take for granted.

As for many, the ongoing metaverse of monthly superhero comics remained, as I grew up, a place of refuge and expansion where anything could happen, in contrast with the then-dull world outside my window. And like many young gay geeks, I orbited toward Wonder Woman, with her fierce compassion, as my icon of anti-patriarchy.

Still, it would take me 21 years of life to build up the strength and courage to face my fears and start living my truth. And I am one of the lucky ones. In that, there is no justice.

A few decades later, I found myself working as a freelance professional artist juggling assignments for DC (which shares a parent company with CNN) and Marvel, living my childhood fantasy. That’s when the opportunity arose to manifest Sereno, my own creator-owned superhero for the local Argentinian scene.

In this genre, creating a new superhero always happens in dialogue with the source archetypes who ignited it all. If Superman and Batman were expressions of the collective unconscious of their era, I asked myself, what kind of fictional hero would I invoke, and what would make him unique?

It’s all about perspective, and mine was that of a gay adult, an enthusiast of practicing art-as-magic, living in Buenos Aires – a place in constant crisis and effervescence, at a crossroads of cultural expressions and colonization from the various nodes of the Global North – a few years after the legalization of equal marriage in Argentina changed my civilian and political existence.

Braiding together influences from American superheroes and their Japanese counterparts like Sailor Moon and the Knights of the Zodiac through the prism of my Latinoamerican sensibility, my hero Sereno, which in Spanish means both “Serene” and “Nightwatchman,”emerged as a Magical Boy, a male version of the Japanese “Magical Girl” archetype. A spiritual warrior of light defending his utopian city, a queer lead character, a counteroffer of sensitive masculinity reclaiming what patriarchy denied us.

Luciano Vecchio's comic "Sereno."

Sereno is my love letter, my humble gift in return to the genre that nurtured me. He is the hero I wish I had as a kid, who would in turn save my past, present and future.

The stories we tell can shape ideas and transform the real world we inhabit. With that realization there was no turning back. I had to pick my role in the imagination battlefields to participate in the change I want  to see in everyday life for me and my community.

A very intimate, creatively transforming project, Sereno not only expanded what I was capable of artistically, but he also amplified my visibility and role as an out and vocal gay creator. LGBTQ representation in the world of superheroes became a passionate focus that I poured back into my more mainstream work.

I joined a vigorous group of other artists taking up this cause. The moment I had the chance, I wrote and drew the first canon gathering of every LGBTQ Marvel hero going together to the Pride march as a political statement, in a short story aptly titled “Assemble.” Soon after, both Marvel and DC presented their first-ever Pride anthologies, showcasing their LGBTQ characters and creators. I had the honor to participate in both. Now my childhood dream was updated with Purpose.

Get Our Free Weekly Newsletter

In a world that never stops ending, translating Sereno into English closes a magic circle that in turn opens new paths. I found myself writing and drawing gay mutant icon Iceman for Marvel, while at DC Superman himself, now the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane and inheritor of the mantle, comes out as queer and winks at me from across the universes in some sort of transtemporal cosmic resonance. Truth, Justice, and a Better Tomorrow.

Sereno will soon be available for the first time in a book collection, and I find myself taking a step back from writing to focus on my drawing roots while preparing for my creation to take on a life of his own, to connect with other young people about to be struck by lightning like I was.

If you meet Sereno, I hope you get to know him so together we can imagine, across time and space, the best possible future.