From the titular comic written by Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker with art by Jamal Campbell, we meet Naomi (played by Kaci Walfall) a gregarious, talented, well-loved and popular high school student who is the adopted daughter of Greg McDuffie and his wife Jen McDuffie, in the small town of Port Oswego.
A bit of a nerd, she offsets her obsession with the Man of Steel (she has the third ranked Superman website in the world) by being willing to go to parties with the cool kids, knows all their names and is accepted by almost anyone who is anyone in her high school.
Her relationship with her parents are good and wholesome, which lends itself to Naomi’s overall psychology. She seems a perfectly charming teenager whose parents are doing their best to raise a responsible citizen.
The first episode shares her life with us. We meet her friends, the popular and the unpopular, both have nothing but love for her. My favorite sequence was the skateboarding across town. She is shown waving to everyone in town and doing more than a couple of stunts along the way.
What’s not to love? Naomi is preparing for a debate when her phone reveals the possible presence of Superman in her town. Literally the thing she lives for, she requests ten minutes and heads out. Her life will never be the same. Alas, it was not to be. Suddenly sickened, Naomi passes out and misses Superman’s arrival and departure.
I was sad we didn’t actually get to see if we were going to cast a new Superman or reuse an old one. All we got was a blur. Sadness. But if I was being responsible, I would have to wonder if Naomi is even part of the Flash/Green Arrow continuity and thus capable of being reached via their multiverse. Is this Superman even related to any of the other worlds in the Arrowverse we have seen thus far? Ah. More research ahead.
This series is definitely focused on the teen set, with the story centering around Naomi and her friends. The adults, whenever they appear on the screen, suck most the life from the scene, the same way I imagine teenagers think about most adults. The camera even reflects this with any scene showcasing the teenagers having more dynamic camera action whenever they are engaged in any activity.
I found the conversation between Dee and Naomi, particularly strange, like something I wouldn’t have expected except for the fact that we have already established Naomi as well-liked, affable and capable of communicating very well. Why did this particular conversation take such an uncomfortable tone?
Ultimately, did I like it. A new pilot from the CW featuring at least one Black lead character, a fairly diverse cast, and an above average production value. The episode closes with a bang leaving you asking the same thing Naomi does: Who the hell is she?
It held my attention thought some of the establishing scenes (party scene, speech on nature vs nurture, forest scene) ran a bit long. Since this is a high school drama, we have to focus on the teen issues, dating, awkward family conversations, teen angst. All I can hope for is those moments will be as infrequent as possible, applied only when needed.
I liked the music. A mix of party music and classical television background music folded into scenes as needed. I think I will have to get used to the camera work. Most of the cinematography is clean and easy to follow. I suspect in an episode or two I won’t even see the shaky-cam work. My mind will have adjusted for it.
Naomi’s pilot is a strong opening bid, establishes the character, shows her world, reveals a mystery which goes unsolved, only peeling back an onion of mysteries the show leaves us eager to get back to. Naomi held my attention and made my need to know more, intensify.
This first episode rates a solid 7.5 from the Answer-Man Flash Reviews. I am looking forward to it, next week on the CW at 9:00 PM PDT.
- Executive Producer: Ava DuVernay, based on the comic Naomi, by DC Comics.
- Created by David Walker and Brian Michael Bendis and designed by Jamal Campbell.
- Writers include: Brian Michael Bendis, Jill Blankeship, Ava DuVernay and David Walker.
- Directed by: DeMane Davis, Amanda Marsalis, Neema Barnette and Stephanie Turner.
- Naomi McDuffie as Kaci Walfall
- Stephanie March as Akira
- Brian Brightman as Commander Steel
- Cranston Johnson as Zumbado
- Alexander Wraith as Dee
- Mouzam Makkar as Jennifer McDuffie
- Barry Watson as Greg McDuffie
- Mary-Charles Jones as Annabelle
- Camila Moreno as Lourdes
- Daniel Puig as Nathan
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.