cover image Nubia: Real One

Nubia: Real One

L. L. McKinney, illus. by Robyn Smith. DC Comics, $16.99 paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4012-9640-7

DC’s first Black woman superhero gets a refresh in McKinney’s (A Blade So Black) graphic novel debut, wherein Nubia Johnson, a Black 17-year-old, struggles with a secret: superhuman strength and speed. Under the watchful eyes of her mothers, Nubia attempts to traverse high school without revealing herself. But when her crush, Oscar, is threatened by a robber, Nubia knows she can’t stand by and watch. In one of the more frustratingly realistic scenes, a white store clerk assumes Nubia is the robber, and a cop handcuffs her. As Nubia tries to determine whether she can ever live a regular life as a Black superpowered teen, her mother calls an old friend to reveal the explosive truth of Nubia’s origin. Now Nubia must choose between relocating and laying low, or potentially exposing her powers and navigating a hero’s responsibilities in a society that views Black and brown teens as dangerous. Smith’s illustrations are colored in warm shades of pink and orange, balanced by cool shades of purple and blue; the artwork is detail-specific, down to Nubia’s above-average height and her long natural hair. Nubia’s humorous awkwardness will resonate as readers marvel at her strength and sense of duty in a world that fails to protect her. Ages 14–up. [em](Feb.) [/em]