Naomi #5 – Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker, Writers; Jamal Campbell, Artist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrinia: Who is Naomi’s Friend?
Ray: With only one issue until “Season One” ends and this small-town superhero tale comes to an indefinite close, the story takes a major leap forward and makes up for lost time – maybe too much. When we catch up with our heroine in Naomi #5, she’s already far beyond when we last saw her and she’s chased down her best friend Anna to infodump on her – and us – everything we didn’t know about her origin. The dialogue between the two excitable best friends is peak Bendis, for good or bad – entire pages are covered up with dialogue and it’s three pages of a glorified recap before we get to the real point – which is that Naomi’s discovered her superpowers, and with them a shiny new superhero outfit complete with gold and a lot of glowing energy. In a way, it feels like this is an inevitable conclusion to where we were heading, but the twist is where Naomi actually comes from. It’s not another planet – it’s another universe.
The idea of Naomi being from a world in the Multiverse opens up a lot of possibilities, but I had many issues with the execution of this story in the back half. Once the big reveal comes, the history of Naomi’s world in the multiverse is told in five double-page spreads with gorgeous if static art by Campbell and a LOT of small dialogue plastered at the side.
Essentially, it was a world without superheroes until a Crisis event randomly gave 29 people God-like superpowers. Naomi’s parents were among those two – and so was a serial killer about to be executed who became the world’s worst supervillain, Zumbado. Sounds more like a wrestler or video game boss, but okay. Oddly, the story seems to be an allegory for climate change more than anything, talking about how Zumbado destroyed the planet’s resources. The last-page twist is inevitable and feels a bit rushed to wrap the story up in time for the final issue. Little is bad here, but it doesn’t feel like the scope of the story is really served well by the format.
Corrina: This is the problem with decompression: because it’s been a few months, I barely remember who Naomi’s friend Anna is, nevermind the relationship between Naomi and Anna, and that means Naomi’s big reveal to her friend falls completely flat.
In order for those scenes to have tension, I have to care about the relationship between them. Which I barely remember. Because it took so long to get to this place.
Instead, the recap turns into one long monologue that resembles nothing so much as an “as you know, Bob” statement to Anna. It takes forever to get to the point (as this series takes forever to get to the point), but at least when it does, it’s in those gorgeous double-page art spreads. Those may be well worth the price of admission alone.
As for the characters, Bendis has a lot of work to do on them still. I’m more invested at this point in her father’s story, and the story of his enemy, the now-mechanic, than I am in who and what Naomi is, simply because I’ve spent less time with her.
Bendis is the king of decompression, so this is his signature style, and it was used effectively in Ultimate Spider-Man. But I wonder how long readers will stick around when that style is applied to a new character. There’s only so long readers will stay on the promise of a story, rather than the story itself.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.