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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #41

There are too many prospects for a Black History Month spotlight. This can only be a good thing. Today’s featured character, however, has had only a few appearances, and isn’t really that great. So why does she appear in this list? Find out after the fold.

2/10/07

41. Nubia

Nubia 1.jpg

Nubia is the black version of Wonder Woman. See, turns out Hippolyta created two babies out of clay, and Nubia was the one made out of “dark clay.” But Mars stole her, so everyone promptly forgot she existed. She returned, though, to claim the title of Wonder Woman.

Why does she exist? Two words: Robert Kanigher.

Nubia has a silly and racist name. She hails from the era immediately after our favorite I-Ching-filled “New Wonder Woman” run. She’s only had a handful of appearances. So why is she a reason to love comics?

Nubia 3.png

Well, that panel helps. Heh. “My sister the sister!”

I’m a big fan of potential– especially unrealized potential. Nubia has lots of it. She could do with a name change, though. Honestly. “Nubia?” Sigh.

A black Wonder Woman could mean something important to the right group of people, though. Besides, Nubia is infinitely more interesting than Artemis or Donna Troy (yeah, I went there).

She has abandonment issues due to the cirumstances of her birth/creation. She’s got a claim to the Wonder Woman title. She’s had her own MEGO figure! That used to mean something, didn’t it?

Post-Crisis, she’s had a couple short appearances, the first of which was during the JLApe crossover, of all things. As “Nu’Bia” (like that makes a difference) she’s a lost precursor to Wonder Woman, with ties to Zoroastrianism (she dated Ahura Mazda) and some powers from the Gorgons (she can turn you to stone if she wants). Hey, she’s more powerful than Diana, in a lot of ways.

Nubia 2.jpg

There’s just so much potential there! Nubia could be an important member of Wonder Woman’s supporting cast. Hell, she could hold her own book. She just needs to get rid of that name. Any suggestions?

But yeah. I’d bring her back if I wrote Wonder Woman. Of course, I’d also bring back I-Ching, Egg Fu, and Dr. Domino. Your mileage may vary.

Reconcile her Pre- and Post-Crisis versions into something new. Give her a new name. Cast away her racist, written-by-old-white-guys-in-the-old-days background and make her a cool, powerful Amazon with a story worthy of telling. And then, bam, you’ve got yourself a new superheroine deserving of her own title. These things aren’t that hard.

And make her date Tyroc (okay, maybe not; but I had to fit him in somewhere. Tyroc is hilarious and awesome, but probably not a Reason to Love Comics. Maybe a Reason to Like Comics or a Reason to Get a Kick Out of Comics, but that’s some other gigantic yearlong column).

Links! Yes, Nubia has links:
The Nubia Index
Absorbascon on Nubia
Nubia’s Wiki

30 Comments

Whats so racist about the name Nubia? It’s just a region in Africa right?

I’m guessing that Bill’s reacting to it because it’s part of the tradition that every black character in comics until the Falcon or so had to have their blackness mentioned in their super-name. Because I feel like speaking for him. I can see your point, but it’s like calling Diana Caucasian or Grecian. Which would be funny, now that I think of it. I’m interested in seeing Bill’s response, at any rate, in case he doesn’t feel like being spoken for (our best of the year choices did make it seem like we share a brain, so maybe he’s cool with it).

At any rate, I’m sort of disappointed that Kevin Smith wasn’t self referential enough to use her in his Green Arrow run. Unless he did and I missed it. I only read bits and pieces of it, since I was following it at the grocery store. Back when I could follow comics at a grocery store.

Nubia, name aside, looks like she could be a very cool character indeed.

Incidentally, if we’re that anxious to rid ourselves of racist subtext, why bring back Egg Fu?

Whats so racist about the name Nubia? It’s just a region in Africa right?

It’s problematic/aggravating/annoying/stupid because she’s another in a long line of non-white characters who are either named after or defined by their race. When you look at Golden Claw to Black Goliath to the sudden influx of black people (in the form of gangsters) in the Batbooks back when they did their gun control book a while back, you begin to notice a trend.

It’s a way to other-ize another people. Wonder Woman isn’t called Caucasia and Superman isn’t called White Superman.

You guys do know Egg Fu is currently haunting the pages of 52, right? And that he’s AWESOME?

Egg Fu *is* back! He’s been in 52 for a couple months, at least. He has a different name, but it’s clearly Egg Fu.

Nubia is an awful name, but I agree that the character has a lot of potential. That is all I have to say.

And hey, this article just taught me something! I used to think that “Mego” was pronounced like “Lego”, but now I know that it was supposed to sound like the words “me” and “go” were jammed together!

Bill Reed, you’re educating as you entertain! And it is fantastic!

“It’s problematic/aggravating/annoying/stupid because she’s another in a long line of non-white characters who are either named after or defined by their race. When you look at Golden Claw to Black Goliath to the sudden influx of black people (in the form of gangsters) in the Batbooks back when they did their gun control book a while back, you begin to notice a trend.

It’s a way to other-ize another people. Wonder Woman isn’t called Caucasia and Superman isn’t called White Superman.”

You make a very good point and I agree that its stupid and tedious that every non-white superhero used to have a name that made specific reference to their race. However in the case of Nubia in particular it might make sense. Just hear me out, yeah?

Nubia is a character who was abandoned and forgotten about by her own people- perhaps in part because of her difference. This might give a lot of people a low sense of self worth, but she came back fighting and forced her fellow Amazons to accept her as an equal.

She seems like just the kind of gutsy character who would take up a racial epithet that had been thrown at her and wear it as a badge of honour because she’s not ashamed to be different and she’s not about to take any shit from anyone.

Well thats what I think anyway.

I’m not terribly sure if it’s racist or not, but it’s certainly misleading. She isn’t FROM Nubia, after all. If she were Nubian, it would be less annoying, but it would still define her by her race. So I would ditch it not necessarily because it’s racist (although it may be), but because it’s inaccurate. It would be like calling Superman “Gothamite” – he’s not from Gotham City!

when they pull wonder womans top back at the beginning of that commercial, and then cut to the little boys face, im pretty sure you see him getting wood.

and the little black girl, whys she gotta be the villainess huh? thats just wrong. why does the black girl gotta be the villain?

“GOTCHA MAJAH!”

In terms of the name, I agree with Brad and David. (And let’s be glad Nubia didn’t cause a sudden spin off of “black versions” of superheroes. Unless you count Earth-D, but that was years later.)

Nubia, I-Ching, Egg Fu… what’s with Wonder Woman and nonchalant racism? Still, all these characters can actually be very cool if one treats them right.

And yeah, I heard about Egg Fu (it’s Chang Tzu now, right)? Haven’t been reading 52, though. Let’s hope it works. DC needs their own MODOK.

Speaking of nonchalance, did you unironically write “Nubia has that in spades?”

Yes. What, is that a derogatory term now, too? Is nothing safe?

“Spade” has been a racial slur for decades, sir. I was sure you didn’t know that when you wrote that, because I’m sure you wouldn’t have.

“I’m not terribly sure if it’s racist or not, but it’s certainly misleading. She isn’t FROM Nubia, after all. If she were Nubian, it would be less annoying, but it would still define her by her race.”

You have a point there. But the name could be made to work. The mother of Yehudi Menuhin called him Yehudi (The Jew) so that the world would know that he was proud to be different.

You could have somthing similar with Nubia. Maybe she was teased with the name as a child and she embrassed it to show she’s proud to be Black. I’m not saying that the name wasn’t racist originally but it doesn’t have to be. In any case surely Brother Voodoo is just as problematic as Nubia?

I couldnt stop laughing at the irony that you used the term “spades” in an article blasting racism. ha.

Nubia had a heroclix, too. (Heroclick?)

I’m a big Nubia fan, despite my rational understanding that she’s probably not a very good character.

I guess that’s what I get for living in the middle of nowhere all my life.

In the new “Wonder Woman” arc Nemesis tells Diana Prince that Wonder Woman was spotted with a man code named “I Ching” so that’s another Silver Age character with a shout out, maybe DC’s trying to modernize their old attempts at diversity.

Are the Amazons still multi-racial as they were under George Perez’s run? Culturally they were all Greek, but created with the souls of women from around the world.

Speaking of vaguely racist, why does the black girl have to wear jungle print?

On the subject of names though, I’ve been thinking and there are a few African-American women I’ve seen named Ebony. Thats a name that to me means the color black with “Ebony and Ivory” and all that- but those women’s parents must have thought differently.

I suppose its not much more a stretch to have a woman named or codenamed Nubia. Heck my favorite comic Young Avengers has a character with the codename Wiccan- thats a religion (which it doesn’t even seem he practices even if he’s got magic powers).

So far I think Black Canary is the only character with Black who isn’t black. ;)

Nah, there’s Black Bolt, Black Condor, the Blackhawks, Black Orchid, Black Marvel, Black Adam, the Black Knight, Black Widow, and a bunch of others.

Considering that Black Adam is currently supposed to be of ancient Egyptian stock, you could make a case for him being black. even then, he isn’t actually drawn that way.

It’s always sort of seemed odd to me that Black Adam is still drawn as a modern Egyptian, when the ancient Egyptian civilization he ruled should have been predominantly black.

(Of course, Egyptian culture has been horribly poached in this fashion by many, many media other than comics– name the last time you saw a black Cleopatra, when by all rights that’s what she probably was.)

Nubia’s name is obviously racist. She only has that name because she’s black. That’s racist.

Ancient Egypt was multi-cultural but the famous Cleopatra (Shakespeare’s Cleo) was Greek. Her family essentially were foreign overlords set up to oppress the Egyptian people but her reputation was romanticized over time.

In real life she was also overweight.

Lynxara, in “Dreamgirls” the character Deena Jones wants to star in a black Cleopatra movie. Which is considered odd, as Mark pointed out, since its well known that Cleopatra was predominantly Greek and she was the first queen of Egypt who had to learn Egyptian. (I’m sure white people taking over African nations is not new to the past few millennium)

Thanks for the heads up on all the non-black “Black” characters. All I could think of in terms of “Black” names were Black Lightning- or Black Vulcan on Superfriends-, Black Panther and Black Manta who were African American.

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 1:44 pm

I don’t think Nubia is a racist name either.
Wasn’t Nubia an african empire from the time of the Egyptians pharaoes? At the very least, nubians were among the elite mercenaries that pharaoes employed in their conquests.

Anyway, I think she is an important character even if I don’t think I ever read one of the stories pictured here.

The first cover reminds me how DC was so afraid about introducing black characters in their comics. Nubia is fully armored on the cover and there is no way for most casual readers to know that a black character will be introduced inside without opening up the book.

During Jim Shooter’s original run as Legion of Superheroes writer, he introduced many new legionnaires. Among them was Ferro Lad, also fully masked. In fan magazine interviews he stated that he intended to unmask Ferro Lad and reveal him to be a black kid. Conservative editor Weisinger certainly couldn’t approve this and Shooter decided to kill his newly introduced character rather than compromize his original idea.

The same thing happened in the Nick Cardy run of Teen Titans with the whole Jericho story that was suppose to introduce a black hero which was censored by DC.

so what seems to be the problem here???.the fact that there is a BLACK wonder women or the fact that she could be revised and that could be upsetting to some racist bastards who would want to shut her down.the truth is wonder women is great and everything but she needs something to spice up her comics.and i honsetly think this chick or a evil wonder women or wonder women getting married and having a baby would really put her in the lime light all over again.

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