When I first heard about the debut of Naomi, I was beyond hesitant. Even after hearing that the comic book Gods, David F. Walker and Brian Michael Bendis, were both writing the comic, I was still apprehensive. My apprehension came from the fact that this was DC’s first Black female superhero to get her own solo title and given DC’s track record with Black female characters, I believed that I was in for some disappointment.
I was wrong. Naomi is a comic that screams both diversity and individuality. Her story is written immaculately enough that even a novice comic reader can fall in love with her life and still experience a fantastic comic. We are introduced to Naomi through a fight involving her favorite hero, Superman, that lands in her small town of Port Oswego, Oregon.
After being told that there was a similar situation that had happened many years ago, Naomi takes it upon herself to investigate this strange occurrence, and which leads her to Dee. Dee, a mechanic in the town who noticed Naomi asking people around about the town’s mystery, eventually spills the secret. Dee tells her that he is Thanagarian and that her adoption was not as normal as she thinks, and this is where Naomi’s story begins. She finds out through her father and mother’s painful admission that they have been lying to her for years. As it turns out, Naomi is not actually from Earth; instead, she was sent to Earth by her birth parents to keep her safe from a former serial killer named Zumbado who now has God-like powers.
The issues are drawn by no other than Jamal Campbell and done beautifully so. Naomi is drawn full-figured with Black faux locs, and her best friend is also drawn full-figured. The body positivity that Naomi and the other characters bring is another highlight of the series.
Naomi also frequently showcases her Black femme in multiple scenes, especially in the scenes in her bedroom, which show her in a head wrap:
Not only do the scenes in the series showcase Blackness and body positivity, but they are also beautifully drawn. The accented colors and the vibrancy that pops off of the page makes the experience that much more engaging. Naomi is illustrated with beautiful dark brown skin, and this is especially important for brown skin girls who do not get to see their faces on issues of comic books regularly.
The best part of Naomi’s story is the level of humility that the character brings to her own story. Naomi is a Black teen who also happens to be adopted which has a personal connection to writer Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis has two adopted daughters who are both Black, Tabatha and Sabrina, so naturally, the story is a reflection of his life as a parent of two children from a different race.
Naomi’s adoption and the love of her adoptive parents are essential components of her arc and flow nicely within the confines of the storyline. Unlike most comic series that are loosely based on the writer’s own life and experience, Bendis almost exclusively takes a direct route in blending Naomi’s character with his own life. Not only does this approach work well for Naomi, but it also works well for the plot in the comic. Naomi’s comic is based on a “crisis” and those familiar with DC’s continuity knows that there are seven possible “crises” that Naomi’s story is based from. When Naomi’s parents found her, they were going through a crisis as well: they wanted a baby.
Given the fact that her father, Greg McDuffie, is actually Rannian and her mother, Jen McDuffie, is human, it was virtually impossible for them to have kids. Adoption also was out of the question given the vigorous screening process and the fact that technically Greg McDuffie does not exist. When they found Naomi, it was a miraculous gift, and their love for their daughter is strong because of their struggles. Whether intentional or not, this is impeccable writing from Bendis and Walker. Naomi’s backstory involving a “crisis” that gave birth to a life that helped a couple out of their own crisis should be enough for anyone to read this comic.
Naomi’s story also stands out because of the overwhelming amount of scenes that spark emotional but necessary conversations. One of the most critical conversations that Naomi has is are about mental health. In a scene in the first issue, Naomi is seen discussing her obsession over Superman with her therapist. In that scene, we realize that Naomi and her therapist have a great relationship and have been regularly meeting since Naomi was young. The scene is amazing because the writers treats this moment as essential but also inconspicuous in a way. The scene excels in taking away stigma that is associated with being in counseling, while also weaving important plot points into the storyline.
Another notable moment is the dinner scene with her parents in the third issue. Her parents discuss with her the reality that many kids who are adopted never find who their biological parents are. Although Naomi’s case is quite different from most kids who are adopted, the conversation is still a sad reality and is relatable to people who have been or who are adopted:
While the comic is somewhat slow-paced, readers probably won’t mind the leisureliness of it because of the vital conversations the book has with its readers. The representation along with the captivating storylines make Naomi one of the best comic series to be released in 2019. The emotional characters and mysterious coming-of-age journey allows the reader to engage with Naomi in more intimate ways than most new comic characters. Naomi is a remarkable story that has never been expressed the way it is being expressed and gives us a glimpse into how important untold stories can be.