Looking for answers about her adoption, typical American teenager Naomi has broken into the garage of local mechanic Dee. A photograph of him in earlier days shows him with a woman who looks like her. Is he her father?
What he is, is a former spy for Thanagar, stranded on Earth after a mission on a well-known DC world went wrong. As for the woman, Queyala was his partner and love – but she never made it here. Social anxiety-suffering Dee, already stressed by having Naomi invade his safe space, is devastated at having to confront sad memories. And then Naomi’s mom, Jennifer, arrives…
I’ve moaned a bit about previous issues being a tad slow, and while this one also takes its time to get to a big, last-page reveal, I loved it. Writers Brian Bendis and David F Walker get the pacing just right, eking out the drama not just in the secrets that come out, but in the moments in between. They do a wonderful job in making their characters sound real, with a scene between Naomi and dad Greg outstanding – love just shines from this guy. As for our heroine, we knew she was smart and driven, now we see that she’s empathetic too.
The effectiveness of the book is equally dependent on Jamal Campbell, illustrating in full colour. He was impressive in the debut edition and he’s growing in skill with every issue – the emotions on display here are unmistakable without ever being overwrought. Whether it’s the intimate conversational scenes, the action-packed flashbacks or the Great Outdoors, Campbell nails it. Subtle details like the close-up on Dee, revealing his bird like eyes and eyebrows, add visual and narrative texture. The way Campbell dresses Naomi’s parents is outstanding – rather than non-era specific comic book gear, the clothes really do look like modern pieces chosen by regular folk with personality. And extra points for a very appropriate wink to Michelangelo.
Look at Dee arriving on Earth; while I usually dislike silent sequences, this gorgeously drawn page really sells the drama of the moment, with multiple images of the former flyer falling from the sky, before he sits up and reacts to his loss.
A nod, too, to letterer Wes Abbott, whose smart work made me forget how much I hate ‘uppy downy’ font. And there’s a very clever tweak to the word balloon pointers as we’re ‘hearing’ a conversation from outside a car.
The cover is pure comics melodrama, but plays fair, just great stuff.
I hear that the opening salvo in Naomi’s story will be six issues long. Suddenly, I’m savouring every page.