REVIEW: ‘Nubia: Real One’ by L.L. McKinney and Robyn Smith is the superhero story we all need right now


Nubia’s story is finally here and she’s ready to show readers that the world needs her!

Thank you, Warner Bros., for providing a copy of the book for this review.

From the outstanding plot to the beautiful artwork by Robyn Smith, Nubia: Real One is one powerful book and readers are in for a treat.

From the Blurb:

Can you be a hero…if society doesn’t see you as a person?

Nubia has always been a little bit…different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian-like strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbor’s cat. But, despite having similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she’s no Wonder Woman. And even if she was, they wouldn’t want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she’s reminded of how people see her: as a threat. Her Moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can’t deny the fire within her, even if she’s a little awkward about it sometimes. Even if it means people assume the worst.

When Nubia’s best friend, Quisha, is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia will risk it all — her safety, her home, and her crush on that cute kid in English class — to become the hero society tells her she isn’t.

From the witty and powerful voice behind A Blade So Black, L.L. McKinney, and with endearing and expressive art by Robyn Smith, comes a vital story for today about equality, identity and kicking it with your squad.

It’s just an ordinary day for Nubia and her friends as they’re hanging out at the convenience store drinking slurpees. Nubia didn’t expect what happened next to be the beginning of all the changes to come in her life.

The sudden robbery at the convenience store means Nubia makes a brave decision that helps save innocent lives. Her superhuman powers are supposed to stay hidden and her crush is definitely going to recognize her, but how can she just sit back and watch the robbery go down without doing anything?

Lifting a heavy ATM and throwing it at the robbers may have knocked the robbers out, but now the convenience clerk is convinced that Nubia is the one trying to rob the store. Without thinking, Nubia bolts. All she can think about is how she risked her life to save those innocent people, and for what? She had forgotten that the world will never see her as a hero thanks to the color of her skin.

I was immediately drawn to this story in those first few pages. The striking artwork by Robyn Smith helps showcase how emotional this novel truly is. There are a lot of tough topics tackled in Nubia: Real One such as racism, police brutality, sexual assault, gun violence, and more, so please take note of all the trigger warnings. I found everything to be dealt with extreme sensitivity. Every panel is drawn with love yet brutal honesty.

Nubia is every teenager who is forced to learn how tough the world can be. She goes to parties with friends, has crushes, and a life full of tests at school. She just so happens to also have superhuman powers. There’s not a lot that she knows of when it comes to her powers because whenever an incident like the robbery occurs, her family immediately moves to a new city so no one can find out Nubia’s secret.

Nubia’s character is amazing. We see her vulnerability, especially when her mothers remind her that police don’t see her as “just a kid” or every time she’s scared just to walk down the street with her friends. Her bravery is admirable. She’s always willing to risk herself in order to do what’s right for her people.

Nubia is the superhero for anyone who has ever felt like they weren’t being seen or felt like their voice didn’t matter. This novel is for the young Black readers who need to see that they can be the hero of their story, too.

L.L. McKinney is the perfect choice to pen Nubia’s story. Her passion for this character is shown in each panel and she handled these tough topics beautifully. There is a harshness to the story that is handled with care. I admire how she was able to tackle so many difficulties teenagers face these days, and how she gives hope to whoever picks up the novel.

Overall, Nubia: Real One is a fantastic graphic novel. It needs to be on everyone’s radar — especially young readers. This is a bold story that is both emotional and action-packed with stunning art that helps it flow. Nubia: Real One will hit shelves on February 23, so get ready!

An inspiring story

"And she is the reader who browses the shelf and looks for new worlds but finds herself." - I'm a writer who enjoys telling you all about the things I love, which includes a lot of books!

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