DC's Stephanie Williams Talks Creating a New Origin for Nubia and Teases Role in Trial of the Amazons
The world of Wonder Woman has been one of the most compelling corners of the DC Universe over the past two years, especially Nubia & The Amazons, which has introduced a bevy of new lore and characters into the mix. Everything has been leading to the upcoming Trial of the Amazons event, which will bring together Diana, Nubia, Hippolyta, Yara, Cassie, and the rest of the Wonder Woman universe. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to speak to Nubia and The Amazons writer Stephanie Williams all about the series as well as how Nubia is adjusting to being Queen and what ultimately brings all of these Amazons together in the first place.
Nubia doesn't have the extensive history that Diana has, and while that opens up all sorts of creative opportunities, it also presents some challenges.
When we asked what the biggest challenge was, Williams said; "I want to say having to reintroduce both Nubia and show everyone who the Amazons are and what Themyscira is like. So really trying to walk that fine line of giving her enough and then also her supporting cast enough, because she is Queen of the Amazons, and you all have to care about her in order for y'all to care about her being Queen. So I want to say that that was pretty challenging."
"And then also just taking on Nubia herself, a character who doesn't have an extensive history, but has been around for a very long time," Williams said. "She has a huge fan base, which is just really unique for just her comic history, but what that says to me is that folks have been coming up with their own head canons and just keeping her alive and relevant in their mind."
"So competing with that, because how do you compete with someone's imagination? I'm like, I hope that my imagination at the very least, it's a little bit interesting," Williams said. "So that was one, but also the most rewarding as well, because how often do you get a chance to give a character that again, who has been around for so long and is connected to someone who is in the DC trinity and give them their definitive story for the DC universe? That is like six-year-old me, eight-year-old me would be like, Are you kidding me?"
Part of what Nubia does so well is introduce new characters that help make the world feel real and yet are still compelling on their own. You start to invest in the inhabitants of Themyscira in a way that has been difficult before because the spotlight was solely on one or two people, and Williams went into the series hoping to showcase as much of the cast as she could.
"So that was something that was really important to Vita and I, to just give where we could, just peeks into life on Themyscira, because I don't know, I want to know what they do," Williams said. "They're recruited. They don't, for the most part, don't want to go to man's world. So it has to be something. It has to be a few things there, that it's worth not having a cell phone or any of the technology that they have in man's world. So I was like, Okay, so maybe a fight club, maybe there's some tavern. What do their feasts look like? What are they eating? How are they celebrating? And what's day to day? Like are they fishing for their food? They're immortal, so what's the eating situation with that? So all things that just as a fan myself, I've wondered and asked. And finally, I was like, Oh, well, you know what, maybe we can explore that a little bit."
Two of the main elements of the series have been the Well of Souls and Doom's Doorway, and the Well specifically has served as a perfect way to introduce new characters to the island while also presenting compelling themes that Williams and Ayala wanted to explore.
"So for the Well of Souls, Young Diana, which is written by Jordie Bellaire, I fell in love with it because that is another book that if you want to just get an idea of a life on Themyscira you should definitely check it out. But I really loved a lot of what she did, and the Well of Souls is mentioned along with the character Magala in that series. So I think Magala's stirring the Well of Souls, And she says something to the extent of, 'Diana, the souls in the well, sometimes they're just scared to ... Their fear stops them from coming out of the well.' And I don't know. That sat with me for a little while, and I knew we were going to be tasked with just kind of re-imagining Nubia's origin story," Williams said. "And then also George Perez's introduction of the cavern of souls in his Wonder Woman run, which I just thought was brilliant when he did it, how do we bring that to 2021 and also keep the energy from young Diana going?"
"I don't know. It just seemed like a very beautiful way to have Nubia and some new Amazons come onto the island, and then also, it just opened the door for us to introduce a character like Bia without getting overly complicated or any of that, which was also a goal too. To me, just reading past Wonder Woman books and stuff, there's always been like some trans allegory there, and for this series, Vita and I didn't want that to be something that was only in subtext. So how do you make that a definitive theme? Then you say, 'Hey, this character is ... ' This is who they are, and you don't have to be worried about subtext anymore because, no, I'm telling you right here and now, like this character is a black trans woman. The Well of Souls and Doom's Doorway, they're great concepts. It helps keep things intimate on Themyscira, and it's something that was really important to the story. Because again, Nubia's Queen of this island, so let's focus on what's going on there and why it matters now that she's Queen," Williams said.
This process of fleshing out the island, the Amazonian society, and the island's many characters also directly affects Trial of the Amazons.
"I like to think of these women not being a monolith because you know some are for man's world, some of them aren't, even though Diana has been there for however long she has," Williams said. "So it was really important to kind of show that all is not rainbows and butterflies on the island of Themyscira. Because also, how could it be, when you have the Bana-Mighdall? And then you have Yara being introduced with an entirely different tribe? So they're not all on the island. There's a reason for that because they have differing opinions, and maybe some of that has led to why they're not all together at this moment in time. So I just wanted to explore that because as it leads into Trial of the Amazons, that is really important to understand that these women are no ... They might all be Amazons, but they are not all the same."
Over the past year, we've seen a number of characters in the Wonder Woman extended family moved across the board in various ways. Diana saved the world and for a time became a universal protector, while Hippolyta stepped away from her role as Queen and eventually joined the Justice League. Meanwhile, Nubia became Queen of Themyscira while Yara ended up taking on Gods in Olympus before being reunited with her original Amazonian tribe. These characters have evolved quite a bit over the past year, and that's part of the fun of bringing them all back together.
"As you just mentioned, everybody is just all over the place, scattered and just a lot going on. So Trial of the Amazons is this coming home ... Think of it as Thanksgiving, and maybe sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn't, depending on who still has beef with who and kind of what's going on. But sometimes things get hashed out, and there's a bit of a show," Williams said. "So Nubia's role in all of this is just to one, figure out who she is and who she needs to be for everyone moving forward, and also herself. Because again, she's a Champion, she could punch her way out of a lot of stuff. As Queen, she could do that, but she probably wouldn't be Queen very long and she needs to be a little bit more diplomatic about it, a little bit more balanced."
"Diana's whole thing is the Lasso of Truth, and then recently with Nubia, her own signature weapon has been introduced, the Staff of Understanding. So those two are very similar and different at the same time, kind of how to me, as of right now, Diana and Nubia are similar but very different," Williams said.
Now, if you've been reading the series, you know the flashbacks are delightful, and after the previous issue, I feel like it's time to get a Jet Magazine Variant Cover for the series.
"Yeah. I've been pushing," Williams said with a laugh. "Listen, I've been pushing. We'll see. As you can see, I snuck a Jet reference into issue four. So if I can convince editorial and also just whatever artists we have for variants, just put that seed in there. Like, Hey, guys, I think this would really go well, just little Jet Ebony homage and just give us that."
Fingers crossed that happens because it would be magic.
Nubia and The Amazons #5 is out now, while Trial of the Amazons #1 hits comic stores on March 1st.
Are you excited for DC's Trial of the Amazons? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things comics with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!0comments