There’s a moment in Naomi #5 that put a huge smile on my face, a piece of dialogue I want to ping into the head of every person on the planet. But first…
Last issue, Naomi learned the secret history of her adoptive father, who, it turns out, was a soldier from the planet Rann who retired to Earth, found love and, one night, came across Naomi. This month, the story continues, but instead of Greg telling Naomi their story, it’s Naomi sharing with her friend Annabelle. Her father’s tale over, Naomi has just learned more from a box in the spaceship that brought her to Earth.
The apparently ordinary American teenager was born on an alternate Earth, to parents who gained godlike powers after a planetary Crisis. They were two of 29 beings who were changed, but not all were good people.
Long story short – to keep Naomi safe, her unnamed birth parents sent her to another reality, one where superheroes were common and she’d have a better chance of a happy life while they fought back Zumbado. And it’s Naomi’s genetic mother’s near-final words to her that make an already fine issue one to treasure.
In a DC Comics line that’s letting the darkness back in after the initial hope brought by Rebirth, it’s wonderful to find a message of pure goodness, beautifully expressed in words and pictures by writers Brian Michael Bendis and David F Walker, and artist Jamal Campbell. Naomi looks set to be a bringer of light – she certainly has the visual, as seen on Campbell’s lovely cover.
We don’t yet know what powers Naomi has inherited, but given the ending of this issue, let’s hope she has an instinctive knack for using them.
I’m not a big fan of comic books that suddenly decide they want to be illustrated prose stories. Only this week I gave up, after three attempts, on the most recent issue of The Green Lantern, due to overly self-conscious prose, spelled out in a technically excellent, but annoyingly faffy, font. No such problem here – Bendis and Walker keep the script naturalistic, while letterer Wes Abbott ensures the big blocks of text are easy on the eye; this book is trying to communicate, not impress.
All in all, what could have been a tedious load of Basil Exposition proves a quietly riveting read, thanks to creators at the top of their game. There’s real warmth in the script, with Naomi and Annabelle convincing best friends, and the feeling is captured precisely in Campbell’s full-colour art. Annabelle’s reactions are entirely believable, while the action scenes in the flashbacks are very big and very clever. The 29 are obscured by effects, so even though I’m not suspecting them of being the Legion of Super-Heroes (membership limit, 30) – I’m convinced the 31st century’s greatest super-team are in the shadows of Bendis’s Superman book – I am very curious as to what we’ve yet to see. Heck, one of them looks to be a dog!
Naomi’s origin echoing Superman’s – warnings of planetary cataclysm ignored, baby sent to safety in a rocket – may make for a bond between Naomi and the Man of Steel down the line. And I wonder if our writers are making a point about climate change in their references to a destroyed ozone layer or, you know, just writing a story.
I wondered if our heroine’s name has a meaning pertinent to the book. It turns out – and I should know this, as I have a cousin with the name – that ‘Naomi’ means ‘pleasantness’. While the world could certainly use more pleasant, this comic book is an awful lot more than that.