‘I think I need to sit in the ship.’
Naomi’s a book that likes to take its time. It’s a slow-burn mystery comic and it never feels the need to rush. It very much has its own rhythm and it sticks to the pace it establishes. And that holds true even here, as we’re on the edge of great cosmic revelations. This is still the story of a girl from a small town where not much happens. The way the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker, Jamal Campbell and Wes Abbott have found a way to bridge the small scale mystery in the town story with cosmic scope without it feeling jarring at all is impressive. One never feels taken out in the slightest and it all works seamlessly, which is quite a feat.
And thus, it’s definitely worth talking about how the book manages this, while also not deflating or undercutting those larger moments and their grandeur. Ultimately, it all comes down to character. The book is deeply rooted in character and it never wavers in that sense, the characters are the compass and everything is very perspective-driven. One of the fun tricks here with this book is the transition, where in the book almost shifts, while keeping its identity.
While the book has used double-page spreads prior, it’s always been with great purpose. It’s always for big, ‘key’ moments, whether it be visions of a cosmic war at one point or Naomi trying to have a very important conversation with her parents. And that makes sense, given it’s a mystery book. But building to #4, the book changes almost completely, in a way. It’s still a mystery, it’s still character driven and most of it is people talking and those moments. But the way it’s presented, told and executed is like an entirely different comic. The book makes a leap from mystery to cosmic opera, as every single page in this issue is a double-page spread. And thus every moment is huge, all-important and key, things are blown out to a different level and we’re getting to experience what Naomi is. We’re right there with her, on this emotional journey of discovery and the pages convey precisely where she’s at, which is a wonderful choice on the creative team’s part. It really, really works.
Jamal Campbell, once again, continues to be the rock-star of this book, nailing every single nuance of expression one could write down in the back and forths, while bringing unbelievably astonishing cosmic wars to life. His double page spreads are a great display of the fundamental appeal of the book and allow Naomi’s perspective to really shine they way it’s supposed to. Letterer Wes Abbott does admirable work here, using font that isn’t capitalized save for the first letter, when the norm in superhero comics is fully capitalized font, to get across the core idea of the book. It’s a choice that’s been there since day one but really shines in times like these when the book really reveals itself and starts coming together.
The story reveals to us that Naomi’s father used to be an operative of an elite Rannian espionage squad taking on key missions, arriving on earth to find and take down a rogue Thanagarian. But, as it happens, he fell in love with her mother and essentially let go of his mission, still keeping an eye on the operative, who was Dee, as the last issue revealed. But part of why he did is he never got any other communicates since his departure and whatever happened, his mission didn’t seem to matter to the Rannians anymore. And so he settled, with Dee knowing who he is. But where things get interesting is a night where both of their radars go off and they arrive at the same place, where in a rip in space-time appears, with three individuals chasing a woman.
The woman bears a crescent moon insignia and seems to possess powers of light. And in her arms, she holds a baby. While Dee and Dad do their best, the woman is killed instantly and the attackers vanish, leaving only the child. Wrapped in a cloth, with a special amulet of sorts held in it, with that same moon insignia, there was the girl that would go onto be named Naomi. While the book doesn’t reveal much more than that to us, it’s certainly an intriguing setup. And the idea of war veterans from the Rann/Thanagar War, men of two opposing factions, finding her and keeping her secret as well as safe is fun. It makes for some interesting dynamics and implies neat history there, across Naomi’s upbringing.
Meanwhile, through all this, Walker and Bendis make Naomi and her parents’ dynamics feel truly genuine. You understand this girl and her need to understand her past and identity and more importantly, you understand the struggle her parents are going through. But regardless, how they try to do what’s best for Naomi is truly touching, with the little moments displaying how much love there really is here. Even Dee, who’s almost like a strange uncle-figure now, is given more context here in relation to Naomi’s parents, as we understand their relationships better.
Naomi #4 continues the mysterious yet intriguing journey of a young girl as she’s on the verge of discovery. Things about to change and even greater secrets are about to be unveiled. This is a book you pay attention to.