Picking up immediately where last issue left off, Naomi confronts the man known only as Dee about where she comes from, and why a superpowered brawl that only he seems to know about coincides with her adoption date. Before she can get any answers, though, Dee, hastily leaves.
The next night at dinner, though, the dam bursts, and Naomi can no longer hold back her questions for her adoptive parents. They are rocks for her, supportive and loving, but hold no answers.
To make matters worse, Naomi has started having intense dreams of epic superhero battles, which are shaking her to the core. This feeling is made worse by the fact that she has no idea what they mean - or why she feels a personal connection to them.
All of this prompts a midnight return to Dee's repair shop, which leads to a Naomi's first real clue to her secret origin - a revelation that changes everything!
As the mysteries of Naomi begin to unfold, DC proves what a wonderful decision it was to lure Brian Michael Bendis away from Marvel. Though his storytelling techniques aren’t for everyone, he brings a grounded, man-on-the-street POV to everything he writes that contrasts well with DC’s usual gods-in-the-sky sensibilities. At least here at the start, Naomi is incredibly personal but with a larger scope peeking in at the margins, aching to bust loose.
Naomi herself, something of a cipher in her initial outing, becomes far more three-dimensional in this issue. She has lingering emotional scars from not knowing who her biological parents are, and the recent events of her life are dredging all that up. The dinner scene, where her adoptive parents comfort her as her frustrations bring her to tears, is gut-wrenching.
Jamal Campbell continues to be an artistic revelation. By not only penciling but also inking and coloring his work, he is fully in control of his craft, and in no time at all joining the upper echelons of modern masters. But it’s not just his draftsmanship that stands out, it’s the way he constructs his pages. Check out his masterful use of empty space on this detail from a double-page spread:
As the gutters widen, so too do Naomi’s central panels shrink, illustrating her growing isolation from the background chatter of her parents’ conversation. And by choosing to leave her parents’ faces off-panel, Naomi remains the only real character in the scene despite others being present. But the decreasing panel size also causes the tension to steadily increase, quickening the pace until Naomi drops the bomb: “How does he [Dee] know what day I was adopted?” This rips the placid scene wide open, an emotional molotov cocktail thrown into the family’s suburban ennui. Props should also be given to letterer Carlos Mangual, who brilliantly cuts the parents’ word balloons off at the panel boarders, further adding to the illusion that their conversation is irrelevant compared to the emotional storm roiling inside their daughter.
Though some canny readers might be able to intuit the broadstrokes of Naomi’s backstory from what can be gleaned in her dream sequences, we by no means know the details. Who is Naomi? What is her connection to Superman? What does Dee know, and why is he so quick to run from it? Bendis and Walker do an excellent job of leaving these questions to simmer, but by no means stagnate.
It's hard to say at, this point, exactly where this story is going. But as more layers of onion continue to be peeled back, it's impossible to not be engaged. I wouldn't be surprised if Naomi is on its way to some Eisner awards sometime in the near future. Bendis, Walker, and Campbell are crafting something special here - get onboard now and find out what all the fuss is about!
Naomi #2: Riddles in the Dark
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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