Nubia: Real One returns Wonder Woman’s twin sister to her right place
When a giant like DC Comics puts its weight on a project, we are sure to see something historic. In this case, it is a breakthrough graphic novel for young adults dedicated to the teen years of Wonder Woman’s black twin sister. Nubia: Real One is the work of writer Leatrice “Elle” McKinney, better known by her pen name L.L. McKinney, and artist Robyn Smith. McKinney’s debut novel, A Blade So Black, was released in September 2018. There are more books in the same series, so if you want to read more of her original fantasy style, you will not be left hungry.
Interestingly, DC Com has recently been the main sponsor of a Virtuous Con online convention, the brainchild of award-winning, bestselling author Cerece Rennie Murphy. One of the panels included Mc Kinney, who talked about her bond with her character. She said she grew up reading Nubia and felt a strong motivation to return her to her rightful position. “She deserved to be back to who she was, Wonder Woman’s twin sister … her equal in every way. I wanted to bring her back to that.”
The choice of portraying a teen Nubia growing up in the US with two mothers is a powerful one. Both the author and the publisher make it clear what they are aiming at: “Can you be a hero…if society doesn’t see you as a person?” is the provoking question opening the presentation of the new work of art on DC’s website. “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 were, they wouldn’t want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she’s reminded of how people see her: as a threat.”
No doubt what we are speaking about, namely a doubly-diverse young adult. An original choice that is speaking to black teens, girls above all, who can easily resonate with the heroine. In the storyline, Nubia’s moms try their best to protect her, but the fire within her shows through. When her 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.
More than 200 colorful pages are a comfortable length to develop all these hot issues – equality, identity, and kicking it with your squad – in the depth and detail they deserve. At the same time, the graphic novel format guarantees dynamic and drama. The swathe of five-star reactions on Amazon after just a few days of opening the sales testifies that the McKinney – Smith duo has touched a cord in black teenage souls. The young writer has revealed that she talks a lot to black teens on school visits and in virtual meetups. “Many times, these kids—who are brilliant and more aware than people give them credit for—will talk about how heroes will manage to save the world. But you never see those heroes doing anything about police brutality or trying to save the neighborhoods these kids come from or even caring about people from those neighborhood and what goes on there.”