The 1970s were an interesting time for Black superheroes. DC Comics had Black Lightning, Bumblebee, and of course Nubia. With Blaxploitation carving a genre for itself within Hollywood, there was a fascination with creating characters that looked similar to characters from Shaft and Cleopatra Jones. You can see the evidence in the creation of characters like Luke Cage, which heavily leans into ’70s slang and mannerisms.
Nubia is technically the first Black woman superhero from DC Comics. Some will argue that it’s Bumblebee, despite her coming a few years later. However, Nubia has just been waiting for someone to write her and fans like myself have been waiting too. So if you are excited about Nubia, catch up on a little history here and start making room for everything Nubia on your comic shelf.
WHO IS NUBIA?
When Nubia was first introduced in 1973, readers didn’t know that she was Black. In her debut in Wonder Woman: Introducing Nubia, what she was decked in covered her entire body. The only thing we saw before her identity was revealed was her long dark hair. During a battle with Diana (Wonder Woman) she removed her helmet and revealed she was also Wonder Woman. However, Nubia at the time lived and ruled on an island full of men instead of women. She donned a streak of white hair (similar to another Black female superhero) and she initially was a foe to Diana.
When the hit TV show Wonder Woman was on air starring Lynda Carter, there was talk about adding Nubia to the series. Actress Teresa Graves, who was the first Black actress to have her own drama TV show, was under consideration to play the rule of Nubia. According to Entertainment Health, it came to a halt when the show moved to CBS. Since then, Nubia has been featured in a handful of comics throughout the years.
Nubia has been severely underutilized up until now. In 2017, artist and illustrator, Marcus Williams went viral for his Wonder Woman art. He drew both Nubia and Diana standing back to back. Ever since then, more people have been curious about Nubia.
NUBIA: ALLY OR FOE?
Even though Nubia hasn’t been in a lot of comics, her backstory was changed throughout the years. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Nubia only appeared in a handful of comics. She was used as a formidable fighter against Diana. However, during the mid-80s, Nubia changed. She went from being the Black sister made from clay to being her own Wonder Woman of Earth and the Amazons. She even teamed up with Calvin Ellis who is the president and also Black Superman. Even though she started off as a foe to Diana, she eventually became an ally.
WHY NUBIA’S TIME IS NOW
Since her debut, Nubia hasn’t been used much in the comics. Her comic lore has mostly had her as a side character, but all of that is changing thanks to a few Black women writers. Earlier this year, the Nubia: Real One graphic novel by L.L. McKinney and Robyn Smith gave fans a solid, YA introduction of Nubia as a teen. Recently, Stephanie Williams, creator of the indie comic Living Heroes, announced on Twitter that she will be working with Vita Ayala (Static) and Alitha Martinez ( Batgirl) on a new Nubia comics series.
I for one am thrilled that Black marginalized creatives are now given the opportunity to write and shape the story of Nubia. To me, that is important because it brings authenticity to the character. It’s hard not to geek out over Black women writing cannon stories for Black women superheroes!
WHERE TO START WITH NUBIA COMICS
Now that you know the history of Nubia, here are a few books you should check out. Additionally, Stephaine Williams will be writing NUBIA AND THE AMAZONS for a limited run starting Oct. 19th!