'Naomi' #1 Review: A Truly Fun But Slow-Paced Read

Naomi #1 is an intriguing first chapter that only hints at bigger secrets and possibilities.

Written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker and illustrated by Jamal Campbell, Naomi #1 feels a lot like Bendis' first issue on Ultimate Spider-Man. Naomi's story is totally different, of course, but the comic has the same special energy that made Ultimate Spider-Man an instant classic nearly 20 years ago.

The first issue follows a young adopted teen after Superman literally crashes into her town of Port Oswego, which is portrayed as a smaller version of Portland, while battling Mongul. Naomi is perturbed that she missed Superman's two trips into town; she's portrayed as inquisitive and strong-willed, but not in an abrasive way. Upon finding out that there was another superhero-related event in the city years ago, she starts investigating and comes to a surprising discovery.

Naomi feels very much like a Brian Michael Bendis comic, for all of its strengths and weaknesses. That's probably unfair to co-writer David Walker, who is a fantastic writer, but the comic has all of Bendis' typical scripting hallmarks. All the "Bendis-isms" are there -- the distinctive dialogue style with rapid, short sentences, and two pages of single-panel grids where various strangers all answer the same question with different responses and reactions. Naomi #1 is also Bendis' most decompressed work to date since arriving at DC, as not much actually happens in the comic save for the introduction of Naomi and her friends and a tease of a bigger mystery. The decompressed style works though for this comic, as it really emphasizes the relatively mundane nature of Naomi's world and gives her personality lots of room to shine.

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Jamal Campbell's art is absolutely fantastic here; he has a very polished style like Terry Dodson, but without the emphasis on curvy women. Every person in Naomi feels very distinct, each has different clothing styles, bodies, and hair cuts. This made Port Oswego come alive, infusing the fictional city with its own atmosphere. My only complaint with the art is that Campbell's coloring felt a little watered down at times, although that might be a deliberate choice to reflect the mundaneness of Naomi's current life. Campbell might be the breakout star of Naomi, and it's entirely possible DC Comics could poach him for a higher-profile book sooner as opposed to later.

Naomi #1 is an intriguing and well-crafted comic, but its decompressed nature makes it hard to really give a verdict on it. If you enjoy an emphasis on characterization, small-town intrigue, and a look at a relatively untouched side of the DC Universe, you won't mind that the comic ends before much of the lot is revealed. Naomi looks like it'll be a slow burn, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. If nothing else, the opening issue is strong enough to justify sticking around for at least a few more issues.

Published by DC Comics

On January 23, 2019

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker

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Art by Jamal Campbell

Letters by Josh Reed