Graphic Novel Rec #4: Nubia: Real One

Creators: L.L. McKinney & Robyn Smith

Publisher: DC Comics

There are stories that tell how we wish the world was and there are stories that tell how the world is. Nubia: Real One tells how it is in the real world for a young African-American woman.

Nubia is filled with so much potential this is misunderstood by most of those around her: her classmates, the cops, the woman at the convenience store. Nubia, however, is loved and protected fiercely by her moms and her best friends.

The story in Nubia: Real One includes racial profiling in policing, sexual harassment, and a school shooting. These topics may steer some readers away from Nubia, but it would be their loss. These are issues that teenagers are dealing with on a daily basis. These are the kinds of stories teenagers are yearning to read.

Nubia, LaQuisha and Jason hanging out.

Even with addressing all of these serious topics, Nubia still manages to be a fun read. McKinney and Smith handle the juxtaposition of serious topics and teenage antics so well that this book feels like it could easily be adapted into a TV series. The scenes of Nubia hanging out with LaQuisha and Jason are some of my favorites.

As with all of the DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults, this book has a connection to the larger DC Comics Universe. When Wonder Woman appeared, I was worried that Nubia would lose all of her agency, but McKinney wrote Wonder Woman in a way that she was a true support to Nubia on her journey.

I would love to read more of Nubia’s adventures and I’ll definitely be seeking out more work by L.L. McKinney and Robyn Smith.

Teaching Considerations:

  • Genre: Realistic Fantasy (Basically a realistic fiction story if you remove Wonder Woman and the Amazons.)
  • Units of Study: Social Issues, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Grades: 8th grade, High School

Published by Eric Hand

I'm an educator and literacy professional with a long-standing passion for comic books and graphic novels.

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