Marvel artist Whilce Portacio reveals Efren Bata Reyes inspired X-Men character “Bishop”

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Efren Bata Reyes Marvel Bishop
“Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes would go up against these big American guys and give them this look. That’s who Bishop was.” – Whilce Portacio at the SuperManila. Credits to Whilce Portacio Instagram.

Fil-Am Marvel Comics artist-writer Whilce Portacio, who in 1991 created the now-iconic character of Lucas Bishop on X-Men, revealed recently that the time-traveling mutant police from the future with a mission was actually inspired by the Philippines’ champion billiard player, Efren “Bata” Reyes.

Can you imagine our very own Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes-inspired character in X-Men bashing and snookering Wolverine to a corner?

Well, that was the plan. Whilce Portacio revealed this piece of Filipino trivia at the first SuperManila Pop Culture Convention held last October 18-20 at The Podium in Pasig City.

The character of Bishop, first published by Marvel Comics in Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #282, was originally intended by Whilce to be Filipino in ethnic origin and was inspired by the “Magician”, Efren “Bata” Reyes, who was on the top of his game at that time. Portacio’s Bishop was the character who could go up against Wolverine.

“Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes would go up against these big American guys and give them this look. That’s who Bishop was. He was born with the skills and the DNA to fight and survive. In the daytime he would fight off Sentinels, save other mutants, and then he would go underground at the end of the day and ask ‘Saan ba yung next party? Saan ba yung handa?’(Where’s the next party? Where’s the feast?),” Portacio shared.

Efren “Bata” Reyes is the Philippines’ “Magician” in billiards and pool, winning over 70 international titles. Credits to Efren Reyes Billiards social media.

The Marvel artist then revealed that the X-Men editor at that time and now DC EIC Bob Harras asked him if Bishop could be black because X-Men was very popular with African-American kids and they were sending so many fan mail, he wanted a hero that can also inspire their readers.

“Understanding as a minority, I couldn’t say no. I was already operating in the mood of being Pinoy, diba? Learning about our ugali (ways). And that’s another part of it. Pagbigyan, diba? (give it up, right?) there’s always another time,” Whilce Portacio was quoted saying in the Bleedingcool article.

The US-based Whilce Portacio, known for his work on The Punisher, X-Factor, Uncanny X-Men, Iron Man, Wetworks, and Spawn and one of the seven co-founders of Image Comics, was in Manila in a gathering of legendary Filipino comic artists that included Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Pol Medina, Jr., Whilce Portacio, among many others.

SEND cheers to Whilce Portacio and Filipino comic artists who are raising Filipino pride with their artworks!

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Eldan Sambatyon
Eldan is an experienced online content writer who finds fulfillment in sharing the good side of the news to Filipinos.