THIS WEEK: The Amazons formally crown their new queen in the Nubia Coronation Special.
Note: This piece contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Nubia Coronation Special #1
Writers: Stephanie Williams & Vita Ayala
Artists: Marguerite Sauvage, Colleen Doran, Darryl Banks, Jill Thompson, and Alitha Martinez
Colorists: Marguerite Sauvage, Colleen Doran, HiFi, Jill Thompson, and Alex Guimarães
Letterer: Becca Carey
Cover Artist: David Mack
The Trial of the Amazons event is over, with the three tribes of Amazons – the Themyscirans, the Bana-Mighdall, and the Esquecida – newly-united for the first time in who knows how long, and under the leadership of a single queen: Nubia. Though Nubia has been queen of the Themyscirans since Hippolyta passed her the title in last year’s Infinite Frontier one-shot, this week’s Nubia Coronation Special sees her officially take the crown for all Amazons. This comic is one that readers essentially know the ending of before they open it. Nubia is going to be coronated – we already know there’s a Nubia: Queen of the Amazons series debuting in June – so the question becomes how to make this comic an interesting and entertaining read.
Luckily, it’s a task that writers Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala are more than up for. I admit that I was a little let down by the latter half of the Trial of the Amazons storyline, so I came into this special with a bit of trepidation, and I’m happy to say that was for naught. The Nubia Coronation Special feels akin to DC’s recent character-specific anniversary anthologies, with Williams and Ayala telling a series of stories about Nubia that celebrate and illuminate new elements of the character. The issue offers a revised (and, frankly, less insulting) origin for Nubia and her life before becoming an Amazon, and also offers a glimpse of what she was up to during her long absence from comics. It’s a smart way to flesh out an already-interesting character with some more much-needed backstory.
It’s the story of Nubia’s interim adventures in Man’s World that piques this reader’s interest the most. The pages illustrated by Darryl Banks and HiFi feature an illuminating exchange between Nubia and an in-disguise J’onn J’onnz, who here resembles the Supergirl TV show’s J’onn as played by David Harewood. As a White reader I always appreciate when stories offer me a perspective on the world different from my own, and the exchange about race between Nubia and J’onn certainly did just that in an effective way. In all the development of the Amazons that’s gone on of late, race does not seem to be a big factor in their culture (it is Paradise Island, after all), so to see that aspect of Nubia’s place in the world made plain was an interesting change as well. The exchange also reminds the reader of how much of Nubia’s past there is that’s still left to explore – an exciting prospect for future stories.
The art throughout the Nubia Coronation Special is, frankly, phenomenal. Along with Banks and HiFi, Marguerite Sauvage, Colleen Doran, and Jill Thompson all do their customary excellent work, giving a visual flair to a lot of dialogue-heavy scenes and the appropriate energy to the issue’s action sequences. Alitha Martinez, the artist on the Nubia and the Amazons miniseries, and colorist Alex Guimarães provide the literal crowning moment of the issue, and while it was admittedly a little jarring to go from Thompson’s painted artwork to Martinez & Guimarães’s more traditional-looking work, the importance of the moment isn’t lost, and the visual tie-back to the previous Nubia series was appreciated on an intellectual level.
The Nubia Coronation Special feels like a strong start to the new queen’s reign over the Amazons. The issue’s focus on character development over spectacle was a welcome change of pace, executed well by a strong roster of creative talent. Hopefully the upcoming Nubia: Queen of the Amazons series can carry that forward and continue the overall strong work DC has been doing over the past year-plus to build up the mythology around Themyscira and the Amazons.
Final Verdict: BUY.
- It was another pretty strong week overall for DC offerings, so I’ll just hit some of the ones that stuck out to me for one reason or another. Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter‘s Batman #123, the latest part of the Williamson-written “Shadow War” crossover, featured Batman and Robin (gasp) actually working together as a dynamic duo. It was great! They should do that more often!
- Numerous times throughout Flashpoint Beyond #1, the Thomas Wayne Batman tells someone that “None of this matters.” I remember feeling that way about the original Flashpoint event and it’s dozen of tie-ins, so I suppose it’s nice to know that nothing in that universe has changed. Otherwise I’m waiting for the actual hook of this book to reveal itself, because after two issues there doesn’t really seem to be one. But it sure is pretty to look at!
- The week saw a pair of series wrap up. First up was One-Star Squadron #6, which brought Mark Russell and Steve Lieber‘s mini to a close in a quiet fashion that fit the overall tone of the book. If you slept on this series, you’re going to want to go back and read it or pick up a collection when that comes out. This final issue offers a meditation on what exactly it means to be a hero, and it’s frankly a beautiful comic.
- The other finale this week was Suicide Squad #15, the conclusion of the latest series for Task Force X. I’ve never been the biggest Suicide Squad fan, but this series really highlighted for me just how fun the concept can be in the right hands. Between this and the latest movie I think I’m a believer now. The final issue leaves the team in an interesting position that’s rife with storytelling possibility, so hopefully they won’t be gone for too long. Either way, I’ll miss reading this book on a monthly basis – where else am I going to get my Ambush Bug fix?
- And finally, Task Force Z #7 introduces the breakout new character of 2022: Baby-Bat, the adventures of Man-Bat when he was a baby. Neal Adams would be so proud.
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