Naomi #4 – Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker, Writer; Jamal Campbell, Artist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Secret Origin..But There’s More!
Ray: As the first volume of Bendis and Walker’s series featuring an original character with deep ties to the mythology of the DCU enters its second half in Naomi #4, I’m thoroughly enjoying it – but I’m still not sure what it’s about. The reveal that Naomi’s town mechanic is a Thanagarian and last issue’s twist ending that her father is an alien as well made me think she might be the only normal human in a town full of alien refugees, but the truth is more complicated than that. This issue is told almost entirely in double-aged spreads, lending a sense of epic scale to the flashbacks. But it’s all grounded in Naomi’s confusion as she demands answers from her dad – revealed almost immediately to be a former Rannian spy. The Rann-Thanagar war is at the root of this entire series, as we saw with Dee’s flashback. Her father was sent to Earth to track down the rogue Thanagarian soldier but quickly found himself becoming involved in the local culture and falling in love with an Earth woman.
The reveal that Naomi’s mother isn’t an alien – that we know of – took me a bit by surprise, given that she belted Dee with no fear last issue. Despite the number of aliens at play here, it’s a surprisingly human story. Dee and Naomi’s father encountering each other and basically deciding that they didn’t care enough about their feud to ruin their cover was great. Then the story takes another turn with Naomi as a baby showing up in the arms of a Thanagarian warrior who is killed off by the two men after she ambushes them, and Naomi’s parents deciding to adopt her. It adds another wrinkle to her origin, but it might be one too many. Naomi has a lot of potential as a character, but so far she only seems to be a player in other people’s dramas. Bendis and Walker obviously have big plans for her in the DCU, but four issues in I couldn’t tell you what they were if I tried. I like the series, but with only two issues left and Campbell committed to another series after this, I’m worried about getting a satisfying resolution.
Corrina: Well, as I said before, Bendis gonna Bendis, and that isn’t a judgment so much as an acknowledgment that his preferred style is one to slowly spool out answers to the numerous story questions that he will raise at the beginning of a tale. He’s a co-creator here with David Walker but the plotting feels much in line with his style.
Meaning that Naomi’s story does not start with her but with her parents. And not with her parents’ meeting, but with her father’s arrival on Earth. Wait, not even with her father’s arrival on Earth, but tales of his being a special ops soldier on Rann. (The only surprise is that Mom gets only the ‘hey don’t care you’re an alien’ part of the love story and we don’t see her childhood.)
But the good side of this is the narrative has a charm to it that makes it kind of lovely to read and, of course, the two-page spreads are a feast for the eyes. The bad side is that while we know a great deal of Naomi’s past, we know little about her regular life, her dreams, and her personality, other than her drive to know the truth of her parents. And she gets the truth of her parents but her biological origin (so far) remains a mystery.
That will come, eventually, hopefully, if this book has sales strong enough to keep it going and I hope it does. As I said, it has an inherent charm that’s lacking in many DC books right now, especially with Campbell’s art style and the focus on the relationship between Naomi and her parents.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.