‘It all ends here!’ yells our heroine on the cover of the final episode of her second mini-series. Well, kind of. The big fight that’s occupied the last few issues ends, but the book closes with Naomi off on a new mission.
Then again, that’s comics, the neverending battle and all that.
I do like it, though, when the battles make sense. When there’s a logic to them, and you can see what’s going on.
If you’re just joining us, new superhero Naomi McDuffie has been defending her Oregon town from the forces of Zumba… Lambada… Rum Baba (looks it up) – Zumbado, the man behind the devastation of her homeworld. Having finally learned just what her powers are – energy generation and double-down deflection – she defeats Zumbado and his lieutenant Brutus, only to fall, exhausted, at the mercy of three three more inter-dimensional bullies, Jupiter, Dragon and… no idea. Anybody?
Anyway, Naomi is down but not out. She has an unseen ally, whispering to her.
And Naomi rallies. She gets up, inspired by Akira, her dead superhero birth Mom’s living superhero best friend. And it turns out that Naomi doesn’t just have one set of powers, she has two!
And Naomi beats all her foes, with whatever it is she can do now. Brian Bendis and David Walker don’t tell us in their script, though artist Jamal Campbell – providing gorgeous full-colour illustrations – does surround Naomi with colourful shapes, and make her body super-bright. And the bad guys look pained when she shares panels with them.
Talk about your deus ex machina. Suddenly the massively powerful teenager is even more massively powerful. We’ve had no hint a secondary power set was available, and it’s not something Naomi works out for herself. Nope, a super pseudo auntie shows up, tells her to focus and all is well.
It’s a shame. We’re at the end of Naomi’s second mini-series and the levels of agency she has had is lamentable. She’s buffeted around by random plot points, it’s always adults who explain what’s going on and why it’s significant… Naomi is meant to be a lead character, why not let her drive the story?
It’s amazing that with two writers we don’t get a coherent narrative – the battle should be a lot clearer, but it’s the very definition of sound and fury signifying nothing. The villains are as nebulous as the heroine, snarling and making threats but never seeming real. They have no motivation beyond ‘We’re evil, us’. Why not tell readers what Naomi’s new power set is? If the revelation is meant to be a selling point for a third series, I don’t think I’ll bother.
Because this mini-series has. despite occasional bright moments, been a disappointment. I’ve read every issue and can barely tell you two things that happened. Let’s see, Naomi’s adopted dad was overprotective to the extend of seeming sinister. Zumbado attacked. That’s all I got. The art has been pretty but whenever a fight scene arrives, I’m lost – it seems the writers haven’t given the artist enough direction for him to get the story on the page. And a Greek chorus of townspeople continually giving us their opinions on Naomi have only served to irritate.
The end of the issue has Naomi going to her former world to help rebuild it. And her Earth parents are just fine with that, their huge fears about her safety in her new life of heroes and villains suddenly vanished. There’s no suggestion that they, or space warrior pal Dee, might actually go with Naomi and support her. And don’t ask how Naomi’s quest fits into the Death of the Justice League business
One good thing about Naomi popping over to the next planet on the left from the creators’ point of view is that if there’s a demand they get to continue her story; if there’s not, she’s offworld and unavailable for use by other writers. Maybe a third series could be the charm – certainly Naomi seems a lot more confident in herself as she prepares to leave Earth (handy Auntie Akira can produce portals), so maybe she would take charge.
Would you like Naomi to get a third shot at greatness?
13 thoughts on “Naomi Season Two #6 review”
I really enjoyed the first mini series, but the second one… all your points are totally valid. Beautiful art that doesn’t help tell the story. A script that is all too often confusing and unclear.
Do I want to see more of Naomi? I mean… maybe? But she doesn’t really fit in with the Justice League. They have had younger, eager members before but something isn’t clicking.
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Talking of younger JLA members, whatever happened to Maya? I rather liked her visual, powers and persona…is she banished because of her co-creator being Gerard Jones?
Thanks for saving me $. I was gonna get the trade. I enjoyed Naomi’s appearances in Bendis’ Action and JLA runs, so I bought and liked Season 1. I had hoped/expected Season 2 would pay off Bendis’ 1st JLA arc w/ the League and Naomi returning to her world to set things there right. The fact it didn’t seems like a missed opportunity for Bendis to put a nice cap on his time at DC.
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Nailing the landing has always been Bendis’s biggest failing, time and again his stories just peter out. It’s a shame.
Your points are valid but I still enjoyed it all. We didn’t learn what powers she inherited from one parent were until after the first mini and time in other Bends books. If i thought she’d ever appear again I’d expect the pattern to repeat but I expect Naomi will only appear in crowd scenes if ever. She’ll probably be used to die to prove how powerful some villain is. This and JLA VS LoSH are probably Bendis’ DC swan song. His style of creativity never fit in the top down Crisis addicted structure at DC no matter how many Superman or Young Justice stories he gave them. Leviathan could have been a game changer and it was just ignored the month it was over because Death Metal. Hopefully hell cme back to Marvel and a strong editor who doesn’t want creatives who will flesh out the Crisis story du jour they come up with next.
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I’m glad you enjoyed it, you paid good money for it. Naomi was an experiment and I don’t regret having followed the series. Bless Bendis for giving us Wonder Comics, an attempt to give younger readers a few good books. And I think that line succeeded creatively.
Bendis did some good work while at DC and definitely left his mark. I didn’t love all of it, but his Superman/Action run, the Leviathan event, his Justice League issues and Batman Universe were definitely highlights for me, and I’m glad he had a chance to reintroduce the Legion of Superheroes, Young Justice, Dial H for H.E.R.O, and to create a new young female character of color, Naomi. I would love one day to learn the inside story about what happened there, though. How he arrived with a bang and kind of left with a whimper (that is not comment on his work, just on how he was seemingly treated). It’s so interesting how DC ran ads – “Bendis is Coming” – that mirrored those heralding Jack Kirby’s arrival at the company in the 1970s. Similarly Kirby made a big splash, but after just a few years was gone. In Bendis’ case was it the loss of one of his (seemingly) biggest cheerleaders, Dan Didio? Was it sales? I have no idea how any of his books performed, and whether they matched his sales while at Marvel, or at least in his final few years at Marvel. Or is DC’s current culture just not a good fit for Bendis? I get how DC is so “Crisis-focused” right now but Bendis was at the heart of a few Marvel events, so it’s not like that is foreign territory to him. He seems like a very positive, very nice man, so I don’t expect any tell-alls bashing DC. But I really would like to know more about what happened.
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OK, you’ve just come up with a pitch for a fantastic book… contact Brian Bendis at once! You never know, you could produce a tell-all that doesn’t put loads of negativity out into the world!
One last thing. This is all just personal observation of the industry as a long-time reader, with no actual proof to back it up. But maybe Bendis is just the latest creator to have gone from “rising star” to the “hot it” writer to “respected veteran who just doesn’t sell the way he used to.” Bendis’ arrival at DC also mirrored that of John Byrne to the point where they both re-launched Superman with “Man of Steel” miniseries. I’m a Byrne fan, but his name doesn’t seem to carry the weight it did in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. In fact maybe Byrne when he wrote Superman was more popular/sold better than Bendis when he took over that character. Maybe Bendis has just reached that point in his career. It seems to happen to the best of them. I loooooove Grant Morrison, but his last few projects at DC -Multiversity, Green Lantern – seem to have received a lot of critical praise but not as much love from fans. And Morrison even reflected recently online about how he was feeling it was time to move on from DC in part because he is older and no longer the young gun.
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Fair, incisive comments, Brian. Hot today, less so tomorrow does seem to be a familiar comics career path, but how lucky are these guys that their talent and hard work gained them great careers and, while smaller, a loyal fanbase who will support their projects!
The failing of shilled characters strikes again, as with Miles Morales it isn’t enough for Naomi to be a person, an actual *character*, she has to be given power after power as if powers maketh the character. Miles and Naomi have to be the bestest there ever was in power terms as being a “person of colour” isn’t enough. Yet, as you note, Naomi doesn’t get to drive the story. Nope, she just gets handed a new power at the end in order to save the day. Just like Miles before Secret Wars. “Hey kids, forget Peter Parker we know he is only an iconic character because of his powers because of his powers, right? Right! Well, Miles has got all those powers (plus the cool shiznit that Peter designed, but never mind that! Don’t look behind the curtain. Ignore the man behind the curtain!) plus he can turn INVISIBLE! And he’s got a VENOM BLAST! (What’s that? Miguel O’Hara? A biracial Spiderperson had a venom blast too? And Jessica Drew before him? I told you, IGNORE THE MAN BEHIND the curtain!) Also a SUPER-DUPER VENOM BLAST! And if I can think of something else to give him I will? Did I mention he’s Biracial?” If White characters were treated so carelessly I doubt they’d be praised. It’s so patronising. As if a character’s status as a symbol is enough. As if giving a character a variety of superpowers *makes* them a worthwhile character. The Michael Holt Mr Terrific and John Henry Irons/Steel are good characters POINT BLANK. Being Black isn’t what makes them characters, it’s part of who they are but not what makes them worthwhile. No one becomes of value due to their race(s)/skin, anymore than a person becomes valueless. Who thinks otherwise. Raaacists! It’s not a good thing when the theoretically well-intentioned are as lacking in thought as the bigots. It is really just a different kind of bigotry in “representation” is in itself all that’s required. Naomi is okay. Miles Morales is okay. Bendis’s Miles stories in the Ultimate Universe were often very good but there’s something wonky about almost erasing the Peter Parker Ultimate Spider-Man stories in order to elevate Miles. Naomi hasn’t really had enough stories and they were never as good as the Miles work nor, really, were RiRi/Ironheart’s but there y’go.
And – Naomi? That’s the best Bendis could do for a title? If he’d created Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning there would have been less comment in later years because of his race-base name as Brian would probably have just had him called Jeff. Batman created by Brian Michael Bendis: “To the Bruceplane, Robin!” (By the way, Robin’s name would just be, uhm, Robin and when he left Bruce’s mentorship he’d get married and run a restaurant with a one-armed Irishman in a series entitled… Robin’s Nest), “Come on, Selina. Slide down the Brucepole.”
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It’s fascinating to read your thoughts. I’ve only read a couple of Miles stories, I wasn’t overly enamoured. I don’t see the point of creating a character who’ll only ever be the Other Spider-Man. And I can’t read a Riri story because I can’t pwonounce her name!
It’s annoying when certain people state that Miles Morales is the BEST Spider-Man. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! I can’t see them saying that about Spider-Man 2099 who is as good if not better a character. Only the totally deluded would deny that Peter Parker is the iconic Spider-Man. He IS Spider-Man. It’s not like DC where Wally West became the best Flash, as DC had new takes on old characters since the 1950s (and Wally has been around almost as long as Barry).