Wonder woman is one of the oldest running DC comics next to only Batman (1940) and Superman (1938). Since her appearance in 1942 the Heroine of Truth and Justice has been an icon to girls and women for over 70 years. DC literately struck gold with the recent Wonder Woman film grossing approximately $570 million dollars worldwide, and fans are pinning for a sequel. Wonder Woman’s emergence on the big screen begets curiosity about her origins. Prior to the release of the Wonder Woman film, DC Comics released a series entitled The Truth The rebirth of Wonder Woman (June 2016) written by Greg Rucka. In this series Wonder Woman becomes aware of two versions of herself, pre-crisis and post-crisis or the new 52, and commences to find the truth about who she is. Pre-crisis Wonder Woman has a twin sister Nubia. Nubia makes her first appearance in February 1973. Queen Hippolyta, queen of the Amazon race, (Wonder Woman is Amazonian) fashioned two daughters out of clay, Wonder Woman from white clay and Nubia from dark clay, therefore making her black. Nubia was stolen by Mars (The God of War) and taught the art of war and strategy. Wonder Woman has no recollection of Nubia when she meets her years later as the two battle for the title of Wonder Woman. Nubia spares Wonder Woman’s life but tells her that she will return one day to claim her official title as Wonder Woman.
A made for television series of Wonder Woman premieres in 1977 and although Wonder Woman has a sister on the show, it is not Nubia. Nubia’s story line is never told on the small screen. Nubia was apart of the 1977 Mega Corporation Wonder Woman Doll release in anticipation of her appearance on the television series; however, Mega Corporation presented Nubia as wonder woman’s “arch nemesis”. One can only speculate about Nubia’s disappearance in the show. As with most forms of media, to me comics in some regard, are a direct reflection of the times in which they are birth.
Let’s quickly examine the social current of the years leading up to Wonder Woman’s emergence in 1941. Twenty years prior women were coming into a sense of equality and gained the right to vote in 1920 through the suffrage movement. WWII gave women new opportunities for work. Wonder Woman herself worked for the US Air Force as a secretary. Her Creator, William Marston, a Harvard trained psychologist and inventor of the blood pressure component that detects drops in systolic blood pressure, stated that, ““Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who will rule the world.” It should also be stated that during WWII Hitler created Lebsensborn and related propaganda aimed at creating a superhuman race, Wonder Woman as an Amazonia is from a race of women who possess uncanny strength and agility.
Now that we have some context regarding Wonder Woman, lets revisit the social times in which Nubia was created. Nubia’s first appearance was in 1973. Twenty years earlier in 1954 the civil rights movement had began and race relations in the 70s were seeping caldron of tension. The early 70s were noted to be notorious for Blaxploitation films, which for some sought only to reinforce negative stereotypes of Blacks. Television shows such as What’s Happening, The Jefferson’s, and Good Times depicted black women as “sassy” and in some cases maintaining traditional “stay at home roles.” This is in stark contrast to Nubia. Nubia is the Wonder Woman and ruler of a floating island of men. She is strong and wise. Perhaps network television and the social climate of the time could not permit such a strong character and hence her disappearance. Nubia has been reborn in the DC Universe as Nu’bia the one and only Wonder Woman in DC’s Earth 23 comic. In Earth 23 Kal-El (Superman) is also black. Earth 23 and its inhabitants are racially diverse. If comics are a direct reflection of our times perhaps we are ready to see Nu’bia take prominence and hear her story.
By: Priscilla Wright
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