Feb 6, 2016

Kaliman and Solin: Magician and Boy Pal

Spanish class didn't offer a huge selection of teenage adventurers with boyfriends, or teen magazines featuring frontal nudity, but it did give gay students some spectacular beefcake and a Batman and Robin-like adult-juvenile relationship.

Kaliman, el Hombre Increible, an orphan adopted by Prince Abul Pasha of Kalimantan, Indonesia, grew up to immensely muscular, gifted with magical powers, and dedicated to fighting injustice.

He first appeared on Mexican radio in 1963 (where his program still runs), and soon moved into weekly comic books.  Over 1,000 issues have been published to date. There is also a Colombian version read throughout Latin America.

Kaliman wears a turban emblazoned with a K and an all-white outfit, though he often takes his shirt off before fighting the bad guys.

He has antecedents in Mandrake the Magician and other magical superheroes of the pulps, but he is a distinctly Latin American creation, with the colorful enemies -- the vampires, aliens, mad scientists, and evil cultists -- that one would expect of a Santo or Blue Demon.

Sometimes he rescues attractive women, but he rarely expresses any romantic interest in any of them.

Most often he rescues his youthful companion, Solin, whom he picked up in ancient Egypt.  Solin's age is not specified, but he looks 12-14.  Because he is depicted with black curly hair and a cute girlish face, because he wears eyeliner and mascara, and because he becomes "the damsel in distress" nearly as often as Robin, fan fiction writers sometimes transform him into a girl.

But when he must rescue Kaliman or perform some other act of bravery, Solin proves more than capable.  There are hints that he will take over the job of protecting the world from evil when Kaliman retires.

There have been two movies (1972, 1976), with a third in the works.  Kaliman was played by the American Jeff Cooper, who unfortunately wasn't as buffed as his comic book counterpart.

Solin was played by Nino del Arco and Manuel Bravo.