Nubia is one of the characters I remember hearing a lot about when I was younger and just got into comics. Unlike Storm, Vixen, Monica Rambeau, Misty Knight, Amanda Waller, Bumblebee and Rocket, I quickly learned that she did not have nearly as many appearances in comics as I assumed, given how large her fan base was – still is and growing. I will say I was shocked when I learned this, but it would not be true. The thing about black people and the characters they love – especially in comics – is that we tend to breathe life into them in ways that make these characters bigger than they are, no matter how little canonical there is for them.
I did not manage to read any of the handful of performances Nubia had before in her twenties. Comics are not cheap, and older comics can be quite difficult to find and expensive. Spoiler alert that was at a time when it was challenging to grab certain older comics from the Gold, Silver and even Bronze Ages, at least before scans of them became readily available online. Still, you had to risk giving your computer an ugly virus to read them. I’m so grateful for apps like DC UNIVERSE INFINITE exist for these reasons and more.)
The moment I read Nubia’s very first appearance in wonder Woman # 204, I immediately understood how she managed to get so much love and worship with so little page time. How could you not love this character who showed up with armor and silk press ready to fight for the Wonder Woman title from the one who stood in her way? (It happened to be Diana Prince of Themyscira.) It was confidence and audacity for me. She pretty much invited herself into someone’s home, kept her shoes on, and sat on their couch with muddy feet. Rick James would be proud.
But what Nubia was doing at that moment, for me at least, was opening the door to Themyscira for women who did not look like Diana. After all, it must be a paradise, a refuge for women who need refuge from a world that can be unusually cruel to anyone who is not a white cishet he. Why would not there be other women in all shades who were welcomed and given a new chance to live on an island where the limitations of the human world were almost non-existent? And I say almost because the island’s demographic at the time very much reflected Man’s World’s thinking about what type of women are considered worthy enough for that kind of escape, and that’s a limitation.
As a storyteller, it’s all exciting to me – the chance to explore ideologies and challenge them in a fictional setting. Comics have always been a medium. I felt it was good and that is one of the reasons I have such an immortal love for the medium. The superhero genre is best when we imagine what good and evil humanity can do in worlds where aliens grow up to be their adoptive homes, the world’s most excellent protector and a billionaire playboy plays vigilante at night.
But back to Nubia, who did not win the match even though she had Diana dead for rights. Nubia hesitated. The fight ended in a draw, and the two women embraced each other, only to meet again and work together to defeat Mars, who had kidnapped Nubia when she was a baby and brainwashed her. There was an opportunity to cultivate a sisterhood that was worth looking into.
It was all over the place, including that origin story – yes, to one. It all seemed like enough of a memorable start to a long and exciting comic book story. Nubia’s presence created a window to a different perspective on how life on Themyscira and its significance as an Amazon was explored and explored.
Well, one of those things was confirmed when I caught up with her entire comic book story, and it’s been interesting. Unfortunately, not much exploration or study can be done with a character if she is not close to doing so. After Super friends # 25 in 1979, Nubia would only see a different look until about twenty years later in the 1999s Wonder Woman Annually # 8.
Fast forward to now, and here I am, doing something I had no idea I would ever do. I’m writing to Nubia. It’s surreal, to be honest, but something I would like to think I manifested in the moment I became interested in all the things this character created by Robert Kanigher and Don Heck could be, will be and continue to be. to be. A character who stands in no shadow, instead she stands right next to them. My hope is that Nubia should be a house name that does not require mention of “Diana’s Black Sister” or “The Black Wonder Woman” to jog someone’s memory. It’s long overdue for her to have an canonical identity that makes her unique and goes beyond her looks or the bad fighting gear she appeared in during Wonder Woman # 204.
It has been a dream to work with people like Vita Ayala, a non-binary Afro-Latinx cartoonist who has made a name for herself. And then there is the famous and very talented and dedicated Afro-Latin artist Alitha Martinez, who is already in the comic hall of fame for all-time greats. Her passion for Nubia is unsurpassed. It appears on every cover and panel from Nubia’s Future condition story written by LL McKinney, her Infinite limit # 0 story written by Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad, and now it Nubia and the Amazons miniseries written by myself and Vita Ayala.
I’m so excited about the story we create, add and remix. The foundation has always been there, but needed some TLC. As Nubia embarks on this new journey as the queen of Themyscira, I hope her rebirth will be met with open arms and the desire to always keep her in the lead. Nubia, who is now queen, is poetic in so many ways, but one that remains in my mind is the very personal connection I feel. As I help add to her legacy, she opened the door wider for my own.
Long may Queen Nubia reign, forever and ever.
Nubia and the Amazons # 1 by Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala and Alitha Martinez is now available in print and as a digital cartoon.
Along with writing Nubia and Amazons, Stephanie Williams writes about comics, television and movies for DCComics.com. See more of her work on Den of Geek, What To Watch, Nerdist and SYFY Wire, and be sure to follow her on both Twitter and Instagram at @steph_I_will.
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