So who would have thought the national superhero of the Phillipines would be sort of a “knock-off” of Wonder Woman?

Mars Ravelo's Darna
Mars Ravelo’s Darna

In the very first edition of Darna comics, she faced the asp-haired Valentina, a Medusa-like arch villainness with an army of snakes. The first episode was such a hit that Darna instantly became part of Philippine lore. Fans couldn’t get enough of Darna even though the comics came out weekly.

Darna 1950

Varga in Bulaklak Comics
Varga in Bulaklak Comics

Darna (previously named Varga) was created by the late Mars Ravelo in 1947.

She made her debut in Bulaklak Magazine Vol.4, Number 17 (Cover dated July 23, 1947) and became quite popular with readers everywhere. Varga was, in all things but name, the woman we now know as Darna. She stood up for the weak, battling common criminals as well as evil in superhuman form. “Varga” was both written and illustrated by her creator whose artistic style resembled the cartoons of Max Fleischer Studios.

Darna Profile

Darna has been serialized in numerous comics. Has appeared in no less that 14 films, as well as a live-action television series (2005).

Angel Locsin as Darna (2005)
Angel Locsin as Darna (2005)

The version that ultimately would be the definitive “Modern Age version of DARNA” began with the release of Mango Comics’ 3 part mini-series “Darna”. This version was what GMA Network ultimately used for the highly rated “Darna:The TV Series” starring Angel Locsin. This is the first live-action adaptation of Darna that faithfully adapted Mars Ravelo’s first story


Apparently, her powers come from a magic pill which she swallows and absorbs after which she shouts the name “DARNA!”–an obvious nod toward Captain Marvel.

There’s so much going on here concerning Darna that I’m just a little overwhelmed.

Mars Ravelo’s superheroine, clad in crimson bikinis and knee-high stiletto boots, may perhaps be the most famous local fantasy character given life on the silver screen. Portraying Darna is actually considered a career-defining role.

Darna Profile

I guess it’s time to take a look at the Phillipino comics industry.

Related Links:
Darna website at Mango Comics
Darna at International Catalogue of Superheros
Mars Ravelo’s Darna website Official website
Origin story in English
ZsaZsa (Carlo Vergara’s spoof and homage to Darna)


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