Wonder Woman’s sister Nubia was first introduced in 1973 and now L.L. McKinney has reintroduced her to an audience that is looking for more superheroes like Nubia today. Nubia: Real One is a powerful and poignant story set against the backdrop of modern-day America.
Nubia L’Shae Johnson is your average Black American teenager, with two best friends, two over-protective mothers, and a secret crush on a boy from school. Except that isn’t her only secret. The secret that overshadows every part of her life is that she’s got super strength that has caused her life to be uprooted when her secret is revealed.
Nubia: Real One is the Hero We Need
Nubia: Real One is a new YA graphic novel written by L.L. McKinney, with art by Robyn Smith. As a white reader, there are elements of this novel that most likely do not resonate with me in the way that they will with Black readers who see themselves in Nubia’s lived experience. For that fact, I would strongly suggest readers refer to Black reviewers and heed the trigger warnings listed at the beginning of the book. The book tackles police brutality, sexual assault, the inherent racism that Black Americans face, toxic masculinity, and a school shooting.
The book is split into four parts and the plot flows seamlessly between these sections as Nubia comes into her own as a superhero like her sister Wonder Woman. She bonds with her friends, she rebels against her parents, she attends a Black Lives Matter protest, she feels unsure about her crush, and she stands up for her friends and the community she loves.
McKinney has packed so much into this graphic novel that you won’t want to put it down until you reach its end. Each new adventure in Nubia’s life will have you on the edge of your seat; whether she’s protecting her crush from an armed robbery or meeting Wonder Woman for the very first time.
Robyn Smith was the perfect choice of illustrators to go along with L.L. McKinney’s compelling story. Her style of character design and choice color scheme perfectly depicts the tone and vibrance of Nubia: Real One. The characters look exactly like the high schoolers you might find in your local high school.
In terms of lore, I loved the route McKinney chose to take to explain why Wonder Woman is an adult, while Nubia is still in high school. I was left hoping that we will see a future team-up with the two sisters, penned yet again by McKinney.
I hope that this graphic novel is met with critical success so that we see McKinney’s interpretation of Nubia on the big-screen one day soon. It is long past due for a live-action adaptation of Nubia and McKinney’s origin story feels like the perfect way to introduce her to the cinematic universe.
If you love Wonder Woman, then you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to meet her “little sister” Nubia who truly is “a real one.” L.L. McKinney’s Nubia: Real One is out today.