El Muerto (The Dead One), also known as El Muerto: The Aztec Zombie, is a fictional character and comic book superhero created by American comics creator Javier Hernandez and published through his own imprint Los Comex. The comic book follows the story of 21-year-old Diego de la Muerte, who while on his way to a local Dia de los Muertos festival in Whittier, California, is abducted and sacrificed by the Aztec gods of death and destiny only to return to earth one year later with supernatural powers. The character made his first appearance in a xeroxed black-and-white preview comic titled Daze of the Dead: The Numero Uno Edition (February 1998).
El Muerto's first public appearance was in 1998 at the Alternative Press Expo in San Jose, CA. His debut comic was titled "Daze of the Dead: The Numero Uno Edition" and was a in a xeroxed in a black in white format which included the short story of Weapon Tex-Mex a character Hernandez had created prior to the debut of El Muerto. At the same time, Hernandez brought along his newly printed newsletter "The Border" featuring any news on subsequent issues and short comic strips. He later toured the Numero Uno Edition for a year in places like the Wondercon and San Diego Comic Con. For a time, the title was printed under an independent imprint created by Hernandez and a few close friends called Big Umbrella. Unfortunately, the imprint ran in to some financial issues and disbanded sometime in 2003. According to Hernandez:
Despite the break-up however, the indie comic-book creators still remain close friends and often collaborate on their independent works. Currently, Javier is finishing the official sequel, "El Muerto: Dead & Confused" which will be the first issue to be featured online before put to press. In an announcement found on his website, Hernandez declared "I've seen the future and its digital...", referring to his plans to release future issues of El Muerto in a webcomic format with collected issues being printed with an option to buy. In February 2008, the comic will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. The original "Numero Uno Edition" has since been reprinted in a special "King Size Edition" which along with the follow-up book "El Muerto: Mish-Mash" is available for purchase on the official website.
Diego became 21-years-old on November 2 and wanted to have as much fun as possible- despite the fact his girlfriend of eight months had just broken up with him. Anticipating a local Dia de Los Muertos festival, Diego dons the guise of an undead Mariachi. He applies the traditional facial markings to give himself a ghoulish look and even gets a tattoo of a calavera skull on his left arm to celebrate the occasion, an inspired from an Aztec temple bearing the same design. After getting the tattoo, Diego eagerly calls his friends to see if they are to celebrate at the upcoming festival. Unfortunately, all his friends were busy on that particular night and had to "flake-out". Zak had become terribly ill but to make up for his absence lent his car to Diego for the evening. Undiscouraged, Diego planned to have the best time possible. Unbeknownst to Diego, the tattoo he marked himself with was actually an ancient Aztec symbol of death. While driving his friend's car to the festival, the vehicle is struck by lightning causing him to veer off-road and crash into a tree, killing him. He soon awakened in Mictlan to meet the Aztec god of death Mictlantecuhtli and the Aztec god of dreams Tezcatlipoca. It was there the god of death sacrificed Diego in an ancient ritual in which his heart was ripped out with an obsidian blade. Mictlantecuhtli then placed the still beating heart in a clay pot and permanently seared Diego's facial markings to his flesh. Soon after his horrific ordeal, Diego is cast back to earth via lightning bolt, exactly one year after his death. And so Diego de la Muerte was reborn as El Muerto. His costume once intended for fun was now his permanent appearance. Realizing his family and friends already mourned him, he concludes that it is best to leave his hometown and heads to Mexico, in search of answers.
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Official Site: Los Comex
Links: Wikipedia International Hero Answers.com