Nubia is getting crowned this week in Nubia: Coronation Special #1, an extra-sized anthology one-shot. The issue is a means to reveal new sides to Nubia, give commentary on our society, and generally fill in a few gaps as far as the character. Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala write the one-shot with many fantastic artists, but is it good?
Spinning out of “Trial of the Amazons,” this one-shot serves as the lead-up to Nubia being officially crowned the queen of all Amazons. As we’ve learned in “Trial of the Amazons” there are multiple tribes, but after the great loss of losing Hippolyta and the Amazons joining forces to stop a great evil from entering Earth, they have chosen Nubia as their one queen.
The issue is framed with Nubia preparing to be announced as a queen with art by Marguerite Sauvage. These scenes are colored beautifully with an angelic quality that reveals there is great hope for these characters. Nubia is not some stoic queen, either, as we see her interact with her lover and can see she is greatly respected. Sauvage’s art is gorgeous and filled with hope and prosperity. I can’t say a lot happens in these scenes, but given they are part of a ritual of Nubia becoming queen they show culture and character well.
In between these scenes, which impart some wisdom and guidance from Nubia and others, we get three unconnected stories. The first details Nubia’s life before she ever touched Amazon soil. It’s a reminder Nubia was born for leadership and we get to see her mother in a leading role. We also see her family and life before Amazon was incredibly tragic leaving Nubia with something that may play into future stories. This art is I believe by Colleen Doran (the book doesn’t list who drew what) and it suits the organic and colorful location of Madagascar. It does look a bit rougher around the edges with the tigers not looking quite right amongst everything else.
Next up is a story set years ago when Nubia tried to stop some criminals on the street but is met with racist white cops who arrest her instead. True, Nubia’s tactics are rather harsh, but in a great scene with Martian Manhunter we begin to understand it’s the system that’s broken. It’s a great bit of back and forth dialogue as Martian Manhunter implores Nubia to understand the system can’t be fixed so easily. It’s also a harrowing reminder of injustices Black people face. Martian Manhunter makes the valid point that people “barely respect Wonder Woman and she comes in a much more acceptable package.” The social injustices are very clear and it’s a good tale that brings a meaningful purpose.
Darryl Banks draws this sequence to perfection. The detail is great with heavy inks that relate to the reality of the situation. The dialogue is quite long, at times filling the pages, but the seriousness is never lost on readers thanks to the expressions of the characters.
The next side story is drawn by Jill Thompson and features an alien world where Nubia did great work. It’s a reminder Nubia helps all people, even aliens on faraway planets. It’s also a reminder that people war with each other which is ultimately pointless. Working together is the better option. Thompson infuses the alien creatures with a lot of heart and life.
Closing out the book is a great full-page splash by Alitha Martinez (I think) that offers a hopeful and epic look to Nubia as she stands before a crowd of onlookers. It’s a great way to wrap things up as we face a new future for Amazon.
Becca Carey letters the entire issue bringing a clean look to word balloons and captions. Occasionally a red outline will be used outside the black outline of word balloons to add emphasis. There’s a slightly tattered look to the red line suitable for Amazon culture as if it’s a scroll.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Nubia: Coronation Special, but as always DC Comics delivers on good anthology storytelling. Each tale offers a bit of commentary on Nubia, but the larger world too, and how we can make it better. Not only am I excited for more Nubia tales, but I’m glad the message of peace and prosperity is at the forefront when the world seems to be on fire. Nubia Coronation Special is a reminder the future of the Amazons is brighter because of Nubia and her outlook on the world.
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