Believe it or not, it's really much closer to 45 years that Nubia — DC Comics' shamefully underused Amazon warrior — has existed. For more than half that time, I myself have viewed the character as being the biggest missed opportunity in the history of DC, a publisher that once lagged noticeably behind its rival Marvel Comics, in terms of a racially diverse roster of heroes.
It's somewhat dumbfounding when you consider the fact that Nubia was one of the very first black superpowered characters when introduced into Wonder Woman, Issue 204 in 1973. This was two years after the first appearance of the Green Lantern John Stewart, and two years before Storm of the X-Men. Today, those latter two characters are among fandom's most popular superheroes.
With so early an introduction into the pantheon of the superpowered, #Nubia was perfectly positioned to someday ascend to a place of prominence in comics history. But sadly, in a country where the two big "isms" still rear their puss-filled heads almost as much today as when the character was created, that was never to be. Nubia wasn't given much of a chance at all, really.
And Yet She Persisted
#WonderWoman's fraternal twin, formed of dark of clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta — in contrast to the light clay from which Diana was formed — essentially vanished after the three-issue story arc in which she was introduced. In 1974, the year after her creation, she had a small role in Supergirl Issue 9, but was then quietly ushered into the blank pages of obscurity.
Nubia's lasting place in the minds of many fans is more largely owed to a doll made by the Mego Corporation in 1977, when the Wonder Woman TV show was at the height of its popularity. The 12-inch Nubia action doll, outfitted in silver armor and a purple skirt, with a sword and shield accessories, looked as if it had sprung right from comics and into the toy isle.
Two years later, the character was seen one final time in a story written for issue 25 of the child-oriented comic Super Friends. But after that, the Amazon warrior wasn't seen again in comics until 1999 — an astounding 20 years after that last appearance in the pages of Super Friends.
Despite #DC's limited use of Nubia in comics — and also not having any place in 2017's box-office-breaking Wonder Woman film — the diversity found among the Amazons seen on screen ignited the imagination of many longtime fans. This in turn has sparked the interest of younger Wonder Woman fans who had never known of the character's existence. And fan art is playing a remarkable part in Nubia's never-ending story.
Meet Mel Milton
In the first week of June, I had the pleasure of wrting about the internet-breaking fan art of Marcus Williams. Today, I am just as pleased to introduce you to the gorgeous, Nubia-centric illustrations of artist Mel Milton, who has been producing a variety of Wonder Woman drawings that every fan just needs to gawk at.
Milton, by the way, is a former artist/animator for #Disney — and it shows. His vivacious cartoon women echo many of the distinctive style elements that one might associate with the protagonists of modern-day animated Disney classics, like Mulan, Atlantis, Lilo & Stitch and The Princess and the Frog.
Back on June 6, in anticipation of seeing the justifiably much-hyped film about the amazing Amazon, Milton sketched out a portrait of Wonder Woman. The next day he produced another sketch of the character, and over subsequent days, the work expanded into a series of wonderful art pieces dedicated to the heroic princess of Paradise Island.
Milton has described the series as his "personal Wonder Woman challenge." Along with an assortment of drawings of Diana, the fifth, 13th, 16th and 22nd sketches are illustrations offering the artist's wondrous interpretations of the Amazon warrior Nubia. I won't waste a single keystroke trying to describe 'em. The pictures themselves paint a thousand words.
To Infinity And Beyond
Fans of Milton's work have been understandably wonderstruck by the full series of Wonder Woman illustrations. So much so that they've been requesting the opportunity to purchase the original drawings, prints — anything at all. And fortunately for us, Mr. Milton has decided to collect them into a keepsake sketchbook that, when ready, should take our collective breath away.
For those who don't follow comics much, it's worth mentioning that in recent months, DC has introduced an "all-new and all-different" fraternal twin for Diana who's not brown-skinned, but white and male. That's right, as if there's anything out of the ordinary about a character fitting that description anywhere at all in the nearly 80-year history of comic books.
Nevertheless, it was the true uniqueness of a character in comics like Nubia — and with some extra help from a groundbreaking toy — that DC's other Wonder Woman made an impression on geek culture that has resonated out of the old school of Generation X and into the new school of the millennial. And if nothing else, Nubia's enduring (and still expanding) fandom just goes to show that you can't keep a good character down.
Is there superhero fan art by your favorite illustrator that I should also be admiring? Let us know below.