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Nubia: Real One Will Finally Give DC’s First Black Woman Superhero Her Due

Nubia: A Real One 2021 book cover

Despite her 1973 debut, the DC character of Nubia, the long-lost twin sister of Wonder Woman, is still not as well known and is often dismissed as just being the “Black Wonder Woman.” Now, writer L.L McKinney and illustrator Robyn Smith are teaming up with DC Entertainment to give Nubia her own story in Nubia: Real One.

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The Root shared the exclusive cover art, which shows the titular heroine sporting a Wonder Woman shirt, her own silver bands, and some excellent star nail art.

nubia a real one cover

I first became aware of the character Nubia during some exploration to find other Black female superheroes besides Storm, Vixen, and Bumblebee. Created by Robert Kanigher and Don Heck, before Crisis, Nubia was written as the other child that Hippolyta had formed from clay, one dark and one light (yikes). They were both brought to life by the gods, but Nubia was abducted by the god of War, and Hippolyta decided to just … suppress that memory until Nubia suddenly appeared as a rival for Wonder Woman, before eventually being freed from the control of Mars.

After Crisis, she was revamped to be another Amazon who once won the Tournament of Grace and Wonder and became their champion of Themyscira. She was assigned to guard a doorway (very Sailor Pluto of her) to the River Styx and the Tartarus Gate on Themyscia.

Despite some appearances in the comics, she has still often been relegated to a token character who shows up in alternate timelines or as an Easter egg, but now, a new generation of young readers will see her as a Wonder Woman in her own right.

Can you be a hero…if society doesn’t see you as a person?

Nubia has always been a little bit…different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbor’s cat. But, despite Nubia’s similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she’s no Wonder Woman. And even if she was, they wouldn’t want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she’s reminded of how people see her: as a threat. Her moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can’t deny the fire within her, even if she’s a little awkward about it sometimes. Even if it means people assume the worst.

When Nubia’s best friend, Quisha, is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia will risk it all––her safety, her home, and her crush on that cute kid in English class––to become the hero society tells her she isn’t.

From the witty and powerful voice behind A Blade So Black, L.L. McKinney, and with endearing and expressive art by Robyn Smith, comes a vital story for today about equality, identity, and kicking it with your squad.

McKinney spoke to The Root during an interview with the creative team about the importance of “centering a Black—capital ‘B’—woman in a major comic book universe” and also writing Nubia to be frustrated and angry about the way she is othered and treated as a threat:

“Nubia is frustrated with the world around her, very similar to that frustration I mentioned before,” McKinney added, excited about her “good sis Nubia” finally getting some shine. “And, similarly, people view Nubia as somehow a threat to them simply for her existing and attempting to be her true and full self. People don’t consider strength, courage, or standing up for oneself as a positive thing in Black women. They call us aggressive and combative. That’s something I think we all share with Nubia. And here, she’s celebrated in those things. That’s what I ultimately want to do. Celebrate us.”

What makes me extra excited about this Nubia graphic novel is that no one can say she’s a new character being added in for diversity points (which is always a crappy argument anyway). Nubia has existed since the ’70s and if anyone takes issue with her being given some A-List treatment, that is a reflection of their own biases.

I’m so delighted about this comic, and it is already available for preorder, but sadly, we have to wait until next February. Until then, here is some of the amazing art from Robyn Smith and coloring by Brie Henderson.

(images: DC Comics)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.

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