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‘Nubia: Real One’ Is Impactful From Start To Finish – Review

Although Nubia has existed within the DC universe in some form since her first appearance in 1973, there are still many who are unaware or unfamiliar with the fact that Diana Prince (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) has a twin sister named Nubia. Stolen from Hippolyta when she was only a baby by Ares, Nubia has been a disappearing and reappearing character in Wonder Woman’s lore for decades now. However, we finally have a new introduction and new backstory for Nubia from L.L. McKinney with art by Robyn Smith in Nubia: Real One.

Geared toward young adults, Nubia: Real One is an epic tale separated into parts where the readers can delve into the many different facets of Nubia’s life. When readers first encounter Nubia, she is doing what teenagers do best: hanging out with friends, dealing with school and talking about plans for summer break. We delve deep into the relationships that make Nubia who she is, including her parents–who are overprotective due to their daughter having extraordinary powers. Nubia knows from first-hand experience that it is better to hide her true self from the rest of the world, however, that is easier said than done. Much like her sister, it is not in Nubia’s nature to stand by while innocent lives are caught in both literal and metaphorical crossfires.

It is already hard enough being a teenager, but add being a Black girl with superpowers into the mix. Nubia is already aware that people see her differently because she is Black, how would these same people react if they knew she is someone with super strength, super speed and many other abilities? Already having been deemed a “freak” in the past, Nubia never wants to experience this again. McKinney tackles a plethora of hard topics within the pages of the graphic novel including racism, white privilege, misogyny, homophobia and sexual assault, and never shies away from any of them. They’re as real on the page as they are in the society we live in. Of course, this may be hard for certain readers to digest, however, for others it most definitely touches on the very real issues faced by various communities, specifically the Black community.

Cover Art for Nubia: Real One
Cover for Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney | Artwork by Robyn Smith (Courtesy of DC)

It points to the fact that Wonder Woman, a white woman, being this beacon to all, but also points out that this is likely something that Nubia will struggle with. Why? Well, it’s hard to be a superhero if many people in this world do not see you as a person. McKinney demonstrates this in various ways throughout the graphic novel, including Nubia being wrongfully arrested for being an accomplice to the bank robbers as she is the one the white store clerk sees first. How many times have we heard stories just like this? Or know of stories where a Black person is followed in a store for no reason other than them being Black? McKinney makes sure to highlight all of these inhumanities and how they affect Nubia, her friends and family.

McKinney’s passion for the character is clear and shines through with each turn of the page. Through all the ups-and-downs that our protagonist experiences, McKinney always remains true to the character and shows her growth as her story moves along. Not everything is perfect, even for a Princess of the Amazons, but that is okay because none of us are – yes, even superheroes. We struggle with relationships with friends and family, and so do they. At times we’ve all felt unseen or felt as though our voices weren’t heard, and Nubia: Real One seems specifically made for those of us who have struggled with any of these things or all of the above.

Nubia: Real One is emotional and impactful from start to finish. It is unlike any coming-of-age graphic novel I’ve ever read and for that, I was glad. Coupled with Smith’s colourful art, I cannot recommend this graphic novel enough. If you want to read a powerful portrayal of Black Girl Magic at its finest, be sure to read Nubia: Real One!

Nubia: Real One is available where books are sold and at your local comic book shops now. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

*Please note the following trigger warnings before reading: police brutality, racism, sexual harassment and gun violence.

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