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Naomi’s a Superhero for a New Age

Although Naomi: Season One came out back in 2019, it wasn’t until recently that I dove into the short six-issue run, written by David F. Walker and Brian Michael Bendis with art by Jamal Campbell. I’ll fully admit that my interest was piqued by the recent DCTV show, which is now airing Tuesday nights on The CW. I didn’t want spoilers, exactly, but I needed to know more about the brazen young Naomi McDuffie, and what better avenue to turn to than the source material?

The series welcomes readers to Naomi’s small town of Port Oswego, Oregon, where the biggest thing to ever happen to the town has just taken place: Superman and an unnamed adversary brought their battle to main street—and Naomi, a massive Superman fan, has just missed it. The event sets the teenager on a path of discovery that leads to some very surprising revelations, starting with a rumor that this wasn’t the first time a superheroic event had happened in Port Oswego. Whispers abound, but no one will tell her about the earlier event until she strikes up a conversation with the local mechanic, Dee, who leaves her literally hanging after he tells her that the earlier rumored event did happen, and it happened on the exact date of her adoption, seventeen years ago.

As Naomi struggles with that mic drop, she turns to her adopted parents. They assure her that they don’t know Dee and the fact that the date of the earlier event happens to coincide with her adoption date is merely a coincidence. But Naomi’s not one to ignore her intuition, and there’s something more to the story that no one wants to let her in on. She takes things into her own hands and goes to investigate Dee’s shop, hoping to find something that will assuage her unease.

Now, I can’t fully condone Naomi’s actions for a number of reasons. Breaking and entering is rarely a smart plan, even if you know you’re going to find the answers you need. (And Naomi certainly wasn’t 100% sure she was going to find anything.) Additionally, Dee is an unbelievably massive man, and Naomi is, well, not. He didn’t do anything to hurt her during their first conversation, but he did physically toss her out of his shop…by palming her head like a basketball and throwing. (I’m not one to offer advice to folks who don’t want it or who I don’t know, but the mom in me thinks she really needs to better keep self-preservation in mind while trying to sort out the truth.)

Thankfully, Naomi’s actions actually lead to answers when Dee shows up at the shop—rightfully miffed that she’s forced her way into his space—and Naomi berates him into telling her a story she isn’t quite prepared to hear: he’s an alien soldier from another planet who arrived on Earth on the run. He’s not her birth father, a conclusion she jumped to after finding a photo of him with a lovely Black woman, and he’s not someone who really knows much about her or who she might be, other than Naomi McDuffie, beloved adopted daughter, best friend and Superman fan. (At this point, we readers don’t know much more than that, either!)

One thing leads to another, and the rest of the series sees Naomi reveal more shocking truths about the people in her life—and about herself. Throughout Naomi: Season One, Naomi’s a totally new hero who has no real connections to the rest of the DC Universe other than being a fan of superheroes who are household names.

But her struggles to figure out who she is and why she feels so certain that there’s something more to her than the average person isn’t just a case of Superman Complex. Naomi’s therapist explains this as something a lot of adoptees experience: the hopes of finding out that they, too, are “special” past the unique characteristics of every “normal” person.

It was easier for me to make a connection with Naomi than a lot of other supers because she was just a normal teen living in a small town. (Her being a fan of superheroes was also a great source of similar interest.) And even when I found out that—spoiler alert—her Superman Complex wasn’t just in her head, I still felt a strong connection to a young woman struggling with her place in life. (I’ve been there! I still might be there!) This isn’t a quality unique to Naomi, of course—most superheroes (and villains!) struggle with who they are and what to do with their lives—but Naomi’s struggles feel just a bit more realistic to start.

Naomi’s a superhero for a new age of fans, and it seems I’ve discovered her at just the right time as her second comic book adventure, Naomi: Season Two, just kicked off this week. I, for one, can’t wait to see where she goes next.

Naomi: Season One, written by David F. Walker and Brian Michael Bendis with art by Jamal Campbell, is now available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

Mandy Curtis writes about comics, specifically DC’s Young Adult line, and TV for You can find her on Twitter at @mandyannecurtis. Check out her recent thoughts on the Naomi TV series over in the DC Couch Club.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Mandy Curtis and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.

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