'Home,' a migrant hero's journey across the border
It's neither Hulk nor Superman, the true epic is 100% human and we are daily witnesses.
When Joseph Campbell published in 1949 his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a fundamental work to understand the hero's journey by tracing its origin and common features in different mythologies from Greece to Africa and Polynesia, he referred to every adventure in both dreams and myths as a rite of transformation where the hero must set out and overcome different obstacles, which include the symbolic death of a way of being-being in the world — often the struggle against his shadow-rival — to finally return victorious. It happened with Odysseus, with Perseus and in any tradition where we look for them.
Contemporary heroes created by filmmakers or writers do nothing more than draw on these myths that are so deeply rooted in us. But today, moreover, they have been democratized and we understand the hero as an ordinary person capable of amazing deeds and of facing the greatest obstacles.
When Julio Anta and Anna Wieszsyk created Home, a five-part comic book series published by Image Comics, they did so thinking of this anonymous hero that we can all be and whose power is neither flying with a cape like Superman nor shooting lightning out of his eyes, but his will to survive and his desire to be reunited with his family.
Home tells the story of a young Guatemalan boy separated from his mother at the U.S.-Mexico border who turns his trauma into his driving force and makes him discover his superhero abilities.
"As the son and grandson of Cuban and Colombian immigrants, and now as a father, the news of the government's family separation policy broke my heart and filled me with anger," Anta told The Hollywood Reporter. "Home is an attempt to channel those complicated feelings about what it means to be an American into a story about empowered Latinx characters dealing with the cruelty of our modern immigration laws."
The comic takes us back to the recent past of immigration policies in the United States. When in April 2018, Trump's cabinet adopted a "zero tolerance" policy on illegal migration and began separating children from their families as soon as they arrived in the country - up to 1,100 families were separated by ICE and to this day more than 600 migrant children are still unable to be reunited with their parents.
In Home we follow this mother and child on their odyssey from Guatemala, interweaving their nights in the open, their journeys on dangerous trains or in the back of delivery trucks, with phrases that echo Trumpian speeches — "The scourge of illegal migration ends today," they write. We also witness the hope of both, when upon arrival at the border the mother says happily to her son:
"We are finally here! We're just going to answer a few questions, spend a few nights with the police and then your aunt will pick us up before you know it."
Maybe we have finally realized that life is an eternal hero's journey in which we are the protagonists and we no longer need Superman or Batman to highlight our own heroic deeds.