The Avengers have welcomed heroes from all over to their ranks, but Silverclaw was one of the most unique members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
The Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, comprised of people from all walks of life. Some are brilliant scientists, others the results of physical enhancement, a couple of them are magic, and a select few are descended from the gods themselves. One such hero, Silverclaw, was the daughter of the South American volcano goddess, Peliali. As her daughter, Silverclaw had a role on the Avengers for a time and even a familial connection to Edwin Jarvis, Anthony Stark’s butler. And even though she joined the Avengers, she disappeared into the periphery of the Marvel Universe.
Maria de Guadalupe “Lupe” Santiago debuted in Avengers #8 by Kurt Busiek, George Pérez, Richard Starkings, and Dave Lanphear. Born in the South American country Costa Verde near the village of Kamekeri, Lupe was destined for greatness from the moment of her conception. Her village had once worshipped the old gods before the Spaniards colonizing the country and converting most of the inhabitants. Yet, one of these old gods, Peliali, remained behind to guard her beloved village. It was this legend that inspired Maria’s father, Jaime, to research the volcano and see if there was any truth to these stories.
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He returned, claiming that Peliali had spoken to him. He was promptly ignored by everyone else and ridiculed by the Church. But the proof of his claims returned with him in the form of his new daughter, claiming she was the child of Peliali and himself. The infant Lupe quickly proved this to be true when she demonstrated shape-changing abilities. Jaime raised her to believe in Peliali, but for all their visits to the volcano, Lupe never once saw her mother. Then, tragedy struck when Lupe’s father passed away, leaving her in the hands of the local orphanage. However, her orphanage was connected to an international ChildCare program that just so happened to be sponsored by Edwin Jarvis and he wanted to support a child and was connected with Lupe. The church hoped his relationship with the Avengers would come in handy should Lupe’s powers ever grow beyond her control. Lupe was fascinated by the outside world and formed a strong attachment to her “Tio Edwin” and when she was old enough, she left her home to study in the United States.
The plane Lupe took was accosted by terrorists midway through the fight. Hoping to stop them, Lupe donned the ceremonial outfit her father had gifted her all those years ago and fought back. However, things took a turn when the terrorists took hostages. Forced to help them, Lupe landed the plane and helped them attack the airport. This prompted the Avengers to arrive on the scene, but Lupe was able to explain her situation to them. The Avengers responded positively to her bravery and Lupe would remain in contact with them while she began her studies.
While Lupe enjoyed her time in North America, her old home called her back when Kulan Gath, an ancient sorcerer, took control of Kamekeri. He sought to sacrifice an old god to make a portal for his masters to come through. And there was only one old god still near the village: Peliali. Bringing the Avengers with her, Lupe returned to Kamekeri, and found that Kulan Gath’s control of the town was beyond her ability to undo but her mother could do so. Lupe spoke to her village, reigniting their faith in Peliali and giving her the strength to resist Kulan Gath.
The blow was fatal and while Kulan Gath was defeated, Peliali died. Before she did though, she made peace with her daughter, accepting that the time of the old gods had passed and apologizing for not appearing before her sooner. Lupe forgave her and told her mother that she loved her for the first and last time. Now having lost both her parents, Lupe dedicated herself to being a better hero and joined the Avengers for a time.
A split came during the “Civil War” event. Lupe chose to side with Captain America because as she was not an American citizen, she should not be held accountable to a law applicable only to American heroes. This viewpoint would bring her into conflict with Carol Danvers, but Lupe would finally surrender herself after Captain America was assassinated. She would later make peace with Carol after Ms. Marvel rescued her from the Puppet Master’s control.
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