NAOMI: SEASON ONE
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterers: Josh Reed & Carlos Mangual
This weekend’s read finally put one of DC’s newest break out heroes before me as I dove in to finally see what makes this character so special. The highly sought after Naomi series, a comic that sent speculators into a frenzy to clean it from shop’s shelves. I had to borrow the first issue when it came out from someone else as my shop sold out immediately upon opening on its release day. I decided to wait for the collection to pick this series up and upon reading it, I found myself not that satisfied with it. Spoilers Ahead!
The story of Naomi takes place in a sleepy town within Oregon. The town never has had to worry about costumed folk smashing their way through their homes until one day Superman and Mongul fight their way down the streets. It’s the talk of the whole town as everyone is full of pride and wonder knowing Superman not only passed through in a fight but came back to clean up. Everyone, except Naomi. Enter our protagonist, a seventeen-year-old girl who has an obsession with Superman. Upon trying to lookup more about the day Superman showed up she realizes that nothing is being talked about outside their town. The “secrets of the DC Universe” to be revealed when this series was being talked about prior to its release will have to wait as the plot steers down from what might have been that, to uncovering the truth about Naomi’s birth and who her parents are. Naomi will go to some lengths to discover her origin from another Earth in the multiverse, discover her powers, and be sent off on her way to show up elsewhere in the DCU.
Let’s start with the positives. The biggest, brightest, and best part of this series for me was Jamal Campbell’s art. Every character feels so well thought out in terms of design and looks very polished on panel. Throughout the story, Bendis sets up a number of emotional questions or moments with the characters that leads into Campbell masterfully conveying those wordless moments of shock, anger, and grief. The stylization throughout the series really lends to how dynamic the series is and his digital coloring alone is incredible. This art is the 4K of comics to me. I was very much in love with the art of this series and happy to know that Campbell has only continued to improve based on his current work in Far Sector from DC.
That’s honestly it for the positives on this story for me. This story was not what I was expecting and as I said, I felt very underwhelmed by it. This was a tough realization looking at the large variety of Bendis books I found to be very enjoyable, as well as the amazing characters that are around today in the Marvel Universe thanks to him. Putting aside the solicits for Naomi and how DC talked about their role in the DCU, I was genuinely pumped for this character not only because it was Bendis, but there was also another female solo series launching as well as a woman of color to add to DC’s current lack of diversity on shelves. This would have been great to explore in terms of racial dynamics down the line also.
I struggled with the story. The way this story was being solicited at first, I took it as Naomi would discover a connection linked to Superman, herself and the town that would have an impact on the DC Universe. The actual story is more of discovering her real parents. This is fine, but I felt like the Superman obsession was a weird lead into it that didn’t contribute. The only connectin we got was Gemworld being mentioned (another thing Bendis brought back in his corner of the DCU). There were a few moments in this story where the panels didn’t seem like they quite matched up with how the story began to develop, most notably when Naomi scans the town to see who might know something and arrives on Dee before we even know that’s who she spots.
Naomi speaks with a therapist which is where we learn about her being adopted. The therapist addresses that Naomi might have Superman Complex, saying that adopted people fantasize about being special. Luckily for Naomi, she is, as we learn her super origin story as well as the fact that she already had aliens from outer space looking out for her. The problem I had with this was finding out the focus really was just that, Naomi was special. There was nothing about Naomi, or who she was, which made her a character that was interesting for me. Her parents and Dee had me more interested in their stories before and after arriving in that sleepy little town. Aside from those three, It was just tough to find any depth to the characters on page despite having characters created with what seems like a lot of personalities. I didn’t get that from her supporting cast either, as her only best friend was kind of one dimensional in personality while making a couple of references to getting drugs and playing her music in an open garage at midnight with no respect for a noise curfew.
Finishing this read I didn’t find myself strongly becoming invested in this character. I don’t know what she is about still or what she really means to the DCU. Her appearance in other series hasn’t felt as important as the character was made out to be as she hasn’t really broken into the larger DCU outside of Bendis’ section. On top of this, this series is listed as Season One, with it now being around a year since it’s release. The long gap between issues for a character that is supposed to be a big deal doesn’t feel that committed. Hopefully, Bendis will have some news for Naomi Season 2 and what to look forward to.