Naomi #1 – Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker, Writers; Jamal Campbell, Artist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Intriguing Premise, Needs Stronger Characterization
Ray: In this age of advanced solicitations and detailed previews from companies months before release make it rare for a title to emerge and truly surprise us. But that’s what Wonder Comics has done with their second release, Naomi #1. Unlike the fan favorite Young Justice, this book is a complete original, introducing a mysterious new character to the DCU – Naomi, a black teenager in small-town Oregon unraveling the mysteries of her past after she was adopted as a baby. And that’s literally all we knew about the book coming in. That makes this first issue a journey of discovery, something I really enjoyed. It’s co-written by Brian Michael Bendis and Bitter Root co-creator David F. Walker, making his return to DC for the first time since his aborted Cyborg run. It’s good to see such a fast-rising talent make his return to DC, but it was Bendis’ voice that seemed to dominate here. In fact, this was one of the most Bendis comics to ever Bendis. Every scene, from the fast dialogue to the sixteen-panel grids of the townspeople being interviewed, is very reminiscent of his classic Marvel work. But so far, the story is still shrouded in mystery.
Taking place in Port Oswego, Oregon, the small town is upended when Superman and Mongul crash into town for a seventeen-second battle that wrecks most of Main Street. It’s all anyone can talk about – even more so when Superman shows up the next day to clean up the damage. And Naomi, a smart and curious girl with a sharp wit and a keen (some might say unhealthy, including her therapist) interest in Superman, manages to miss both times. There’s little action in this issue, as we mostly follow Naomi around to her place of work, to hanging out with friends, to her therapist appointment. We get to know her, but we don’t get to know much about the comic yet. That feels by design. It feels much more like an indie character study than a superhero comic.
It soon becomes clear that there’s more to the town’s history with superheroes than just this one incident, and it might tie into Naomi’s adoption seventeen years ago. What’s going on? How does Naomi factor into the DCU? I honestly have no idea, but this first issue managed to sell me on one thing – I want to find out, and I want to spend much more time with Naomi. This is one of the best comics Bendis has put out since his arrival at DC.
Corrina: Using Superman as the catalyst for a young woman already hoping to solve the mystery of her past is great. Also, creating a town that just might be a town of superheroes (or connected to heroes or aliens or whatever) is an intriguing idea.
But superhero stories rise and fall on their characters. We know Naomi is driven about her past. We know she’s obsessed with Superman. But that’s all we find out in this first issue. In a story full of many, many characters, including her classmates, little time is devoted to other aspects of Naomi’s life. I’m thinking particularly of how an entire world was built around the new Blue Beetle, right from the beginning. In Naomi #1, readers get the setting, the general concept, and the situation of the main character, but we find out little about how she relates to anyone except Superman.
Which is to say this beginning is plot-driven, not character-driven. That may change and, given it’s a promising first issue overall, I hope it does.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.