COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS THAT DESERVED BETTER TREATMENT/WRITERS: Nubia (Wonder Woman) - A while back (December 23d, 2009 to be exact) Gail Simone and a haggle of cohorts on Comic Book Resources made it a point to mention how silly the name Nubia was/sounded for the African-American counterpart of Wonder Woman, created by Robert Kanigher in 1973 in an attempt to create diversity in a wholly white comic book —-and later revived as a glorified watchdog for the underworld’s gate (Doom’s Doorway, a gateway into the River Styx in 1999) —- and how, because of the inherently racist subject matter surrounding the character’s creation and development, she couldn’t be reintegrated into mainstream DC Comics canon as it was prior to the New 52. The entire discussion thread is about 30 pages worth and laden with 449 replies that pretty much every angle of racially insensitive and prejudicial comments against African-Americans or the whole of people in general, who choose to name their children (daughters or sons) after countries or colors like, “Nubia”, “Ebony” and “Kenya”, and those who argued against it said stupid commentary. Basically, a lot of foots in mouths and ass-showing (plus, “wah, leave Gail Simone alone! Give her a break, it was only a joke”). Given that this happened a good while ago, me, as a person who stumbled across the thread in the present of 2012, was pretty irked by how stupid some people could be against this particular character. They were literally saying that because she was just a “wonder woman copy” and had a problematic, racist/tokenistic background within her creation, she not could be used because it would be either supporting said problems or she could not rise above them and become a genuine character of her own. (No one would give her the chance).
That argument is in and of itself pretty damn stupid, especially when think of what writers can do with characters they either love or hate (remake them to the point which every girl and boy fawns over them, or do so poorly that people set fire to the writer’s and character’s name), especially characters from a “long forgotten past”. Now, from what I know and learned about Nubia, I love the character regardless. She’s basically become my Comic Book Wonder Woman (DCAU Wonder was the only carnation I could stand/enjoy when there weren’t rumors of Lucy Lawless becoming live-action Diana) and the one I think of when the comics are mentioned. She has plenty of potential of becoming a character worth her weight in gold in every possible (Grant Morrison or whomever seemed to think so, given that he used her in one of DC AU worlds where Superman was black) and hate how she’s been regulated to the bloody back of non-existence. Her creation is chock full of problems, hell yes, but that doesn’t mean she as a character can’t shake ‘em off unless she’s got a bad writer like Mr. Terrific did (how many times did he have to mention he was black again?) Then again, maybe it’s good she’s out of circulation at the moment. NU52 Writers and Mandate would probably just fuck her up royally like they did with Static/Virgil Hawkins and his solo title.
For the record, I think I was wrong about her name. And I was never against the character, I had very limited experience with her. All I know is that from these scans, she LOOKS absolutely awesome. I would love a black Wonder Woman, I pitched Phillipus taking over the role, but was turned down.
My objection at the time was that the name sounded like something a white writer would come up with for a black character where it didn’t completely fit the character’s origin of the time. There was so much of that, like putting “Black” in the name of every black character created by a white writer. There were so MANY characters like that, so many characters of color where their background, ethnicity and culture were reduced to a single word, that I admit, I may have been hyper-sensitive about it. It still goes on today…I just think it’s something to be careful about.
However, a bunch of people said that the character’s name had been repurposed in a way that made sense (I think it was Phil Jimenez, who did that, maybe?), and that rendered my concern pretty null.
It is still a mixed bag with WW readers, I know quite a few POC voices who love the character but aren’t wild about the name, but even more who like both. In rereading the thread, I could see past what SEEMED like a fairly awkward idea from a white writer about black representation, to get what those who found it empowering were talking about. I adore the idea of Amazons of color, but you don’t have to look very deep into Wonder Woman’s history to find a LOT of groan-inducing stuff about gender, race and sexuality. Some of it is well-meaning, some is merely clueless, and some is just downright nasty.
In the end, readers embraced what they like about the character, and looking at her here, you can really see why. Just another case of readers being smarter than the writers, myself included.
Looking at these scans, holy crap, she looks amazing.