Nubia: Real One

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Nubia: Real One Book Poster Image
Wonder Woman's Black twin fights injustice in urgent tale.

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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This superhero graphic novel rooted in reality offers the chance to discuss issues such as police brutality, gender equity, racial stereotyping, and sexual assault.

Positive Messages

Families come in all kinds of configurations. There is nothing wrong with standing up for those you love. 

Positive Role Models

A tall, strong, dark-skinned teen, Nubia feels like an outsider at school and on the streets of her community. She's capable of great feats of strength, which unnerves the police and other adults. She tries to hide her troubles from her two moms and confides in her best friends, Quisha and Jason. She's braver than she believes and is willing to put her life on the line for those she loves.

Violence

Many scenes of violence, but not a lot of bloodshed. Acts of violence include an armed robbery, a fatal police shooting, a fistfight, a possible attempt at sexual assault, a riot, and a climactic gunfight.

Sex

Nubia and Oscar flirt awkwardly but eventually share some passionate kisses. Quisha and Jason announce that they are dating.

Language

More swearing than one might expect in a YA graphic novel. Two or three uses each of "ass," "a--hole," "bitch," "s--t," "f--k," "c--ktease," and "c--kblocker."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens at a party drink what probably are alcoholic beverages. Quisha gets drunk, with the hint that it may not have been voluntary.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nubia: Real One is a graphic novel featuring Wonder Woman's twin Black sister, Nubia. (It's complicated.) Author L.L. McKinney (A Blade So Black) and artist Robyn Smith depict a diverse, primarily Black and biracial cast. Nubia, her parents, and her friends work together to express themselves safely. There are many scenes of violence, including an armed robbery, a police shooting, a possible attempted sexual assault, and a gunfight. There's a higher than average amount of swearing for a YA graphic novel -- from "ass" to "f--k," to "c--kblocker." Kids at a party seem to be drinking alcohol.

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What's the story?

As NUBIA: REAL ONE opens, Wonder Woman's teen Black twin sister (?!!) stops an armed robbery at a convenience store by throwing an ATM machine at the gunman. Her loss of control might have serious consequences for her and her two moms, and Nubia is worried about having to move and lose her friends, Quisha and Jason. She also has a growing crush on schoolmate Oscar. When a peaceful protest turns violent and a teen gunman later threatens a school, can Nubia remain on the sidelines?

Is it any good?

Comic books often reflect the times in which they're produced, and this tale of an Amazonian teen feels ripped from the headlines of 2020 and 2021. Crime, police brutality, civil unrest, school gun violence, racial injustice -- they're all part of the coming-of-age saga concocted by writer L.L. McKinney and artist Robyn Smith. Nubia: Real One tackles these issues and many others with sensitivity, urgency, and wit. It presents a main character who, despite her superpowers, is confused, anxious, brave, and rebellious. The supporting cast is diverse and well-defined. If the book has a weakness, it may be that the villain of the piece is something of a cliché, his dialogue too on-the-nose and familiar. Nevertheless, Nubia: Real One offers action, suspense, family drama, and high school melodrama in a package likely to appeal to longtime Wonder Woman fans and new readers alike. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Nubia: Real One addresses issues of race and identity. What does the book have to say about lawful protesting? What can be dangerous about protests, and how can they be made safer?

  • Why does Nubia feel the need to hide her heritage? How can teens feel better about their family background?

  • What can be done about gun violence in schools? What can adults do to make schools safer?

Book details

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