Brian Bendis has run hot and cold with me in the past. I have loved his run on Daredevil from 2001 to 2006. I absolutely adored his run on Ultimate Spider-Man from 2000–2011. However, much of Bendis’ work has been a miss with us here at The Revolution.
By the time that Bendis left Marvel I thought that his best days as a comic book writer were behind him. However, Bendis has completely surprised me with his work on Superman. Bendis has actually adapted his style and managed to deliver a Superman title with no Bendis speak. Bendis has managed to actually create unique characters over on Superman, as well. The pacing and plotting have been a but hit or miss. But, for the most part, Bendis has done a good job with Superman.
Since Bendis has surprised me so much with Superman I am actually hopeful that Naomi #1 will be a solid super hero title. If Bendis can avoid lapsing into his old bad habits and continue what he has been doing on Superman then I think we will be in store for a really fun read. Let’s hope for the best and hit this review for Naomi #1.
Words: Brian Bendis and David Walker
Art: Jamal Campbell
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a page of twelve tiny panels of talking head. (Oh, yippie. What a rousing way to start this issue.) Each panel is a different high school student saying something insipid about the appearance of Superman in their small hometown where nothing ever happens.
We cut to Superman battling Mongul and then the two characters leave the city as their battle carries them elsewhere. The entire appearance lasted seventeen seconds.
We hop back to the present with Naomi and her friends Snooze (The female version of Duckie Dale from Pretty in Pink) and Annabelle. The three girls engage in mindless and repetitive Bendis speak. (Riveting.) They talk about how nothing ever happens in their town. That it is the biggest thing since dinosaurs took dino-poops. (Ummm, oookay.) Namoi is bummed because she missed the whole thing.
We cut top Naomi at work at a diner. She is on her iPhone checking news articles about Superman doing things all across the world. But, when she checks for a story about Superman in Oregon no results come up in Google.
Naomi then gets a text from Annabelle that Superman is back in town. Naomi gets permission to take a five-minute break from work and go see Superman.
We shift to Superman cleaning up some of the mess from his fight with Mongul. Superman then flies away from the scene. Naomi gets there and Superman is already gone. Annabelle and Snooze engage in Bendis speak, again. The girls rub it in that they got to see Superman and that Naomi did not. Naomi is bummed.
We cut to Naomi talking to her therapist. Her therapist mentions that she thought of Naomi when she heard that Superman was seen in town. Naomi complains that there are no stories about Superman being in her town. The therapist says that Naomi suffers from the Superman Complex. That it isn’t that Naomi wants to be Superman. It is that Naomi is obsessed with Superman because he is also adopted. And that Superman is accepted. That Superman is the fantasy of every adopted child. That they grow up and find out that they are special.
We shift to Naomi hanging out with Annabelle, Snooze and some other high school kids. They all engage in the same Bendis speak about how Superman is awesome and how nothing ever happens in their hometown. One of them mentions that supposedly something happened in their town twenty years ago. The rest fo the kids dismiss it as nothing more than an urban legend.
We then cut to a page of 12 tiny panels full of talking heads. Each panel is a different member of the town. They all engage in Bendis speak about how nothing has ever happened in their town.
We shift to Naomi hanging out in the location where Superman fought Mongul. She watches the townspeople and then spies a large bald-headed white guy with tattoos. His name is Dee.
Annabelle arrives on the scene. We then get Naomi and Annabelle engaging in more Bendis speak. (It is truly the gift that keeps giving.) Naomi wants to talk to Dee and see if he knows anything about what happened in the town twenty years ago. Naomi says that something feels off.
Annabelle then invites Naomi to come over to her house for a sleepover. Naomi agrees and then heads over to Dee’s mechanic shop. Naomi asks Dee if he knows anything about what happened in the town twenty years ago. Dee says he remembers but that he was not living in the town at that time. Dee then abruptly ends his conversation with Naomi.
Just as Naomi is about to leave, Dee says that it happened seventeen years ago on March 14. Naomi says that that is the same day she was adopted. Dee says, “I know.” End of issue.
The Good: Oof, Naomi #1 was just a brutally boring read. However, I can still easily satisfy The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity with the review of Naomi #1. Why? Because of Jamal Campbell. I have never seen Campbell’s art before. But, after reading Naomi #1 consider me a big fan of Campbell’s artwork. The story in Naomi #1 might be shallow, dull, and repetitious, but the artwork is damn good.
Campbell does a spectacular job with the two double page splash shots involving Superman and Mongul. It is a shame that Bendis does not give Campbell any more action scenes to work with in this issue.
I also am impressed with how Campbell can take dull Bendis speak scenes with nothing at all going on and still make them look attractive to the eye. A great example of this is how Bendis writes a double page scene with Naomi and her friends walking through the area where Superman and Mongul fought. It is a dull scene with nothing going on and crammed full of vacuous and repetitious Bendis speak. But, Campbell makes chicken salad out of chicken shit by creatively suing negative white lines to show the girls moving through a static background and ending with a close up with Naomi. It truly is some brilliant artwork.
Campbell does this again and again. Bendis asks very little from his artist and it could have been so easy for Campbell to just phone it in with Naomi #1. However, Campbell takes the challenge of a dull script and does his best to deliver some absolutely incredible pages with some really creative panel layouts.
Another example is how Campbell takes a dull scene from Bendis where Bendis spends two pages of Naomi googling for stories about Superman in her hometown. Campbell takes a boring and decompressed moment and employs some creative panel layouts that actually manages to make this pedestrian scene interesting looking.
It is a shame that Campbell is paired with Bendis on this issue. Bendis is usually an artist’s nightmare as he rarely writes a story with his artist in mind. I would love to see Campbell get some work on another DC title with a writer who will fully utilize Campbell’s talents.
The Bad: Naomi #1 is a mind numbing boring read. This issue is what I classify as Bad Bendis. We are getting Good Bendis over in Superman. Unfortunately, Bendis reverts back to his usual bad habits and delivers an issue in Naomi #1 that is full of his usual writing defects. Decompression, Bendis speak, zero character work, and a shallow story are all found within the pages of Naomi #1.
Naomi #1 completely fails as a debut issue of a new title. The debut issue should give the reader a clear mission statement of the title. What we can expect on a monthly basis. The debut issue should clearly identify itself and separate itself from the rest of the comics on the stand and give the reader a compelling reason to come back for more. The debut issue should effectively introduce the main character, their supporting cast, and the setting. The debut issue should also install several plot lines including a short, medium, and long-range plot line.
Naomi #1 does practically none of these tasks. There is no clear mission statement for this title. What can the reader expect from Naomi on a monthly basis? Is this an action/adventure title? Is this a classic super hero story? Is this a street level and more realistic hero title? Is this a cosmic/Sci Fi story? Is this a TV sitcom style teen-age coming of age story? Who knows? Bendis and Walker sure do not tell the reader. All we get is a bland story with no real identity at all.
Naomi #1 also fails to establish multiple plot lines for the short, medium, and long-term. Instead, Bendis and Walker establish a single plot line. That something happened in this town on the day that Naomi was adopted. That is it. That is simply not enough.
Naomi #1 also fails to effectively introduce the main character and her supporting cast. All of the characters are delivered in a cursory and generic fashion. Naomi #1 does do a good job of creating the setting for this story. That is about the only thing this debut issue gets right.
The plotting and pacing on Naomi #1 is simply atrocious. The story is painfully slow and meandering. The story never displays a sense of urgency or focus. Instead, Bendis and Walker seem more entertained by their own “witty” dialogue and navel gazing then they are in actually delivering a properly plotted and paced story to entertain the reader.
Naomi #1 begins with page of 12 tiny talking heads saying nothing at all. We then get four pages showing Superman battling Mongul and then leaving. This is followed up with two pages of Naomi and her friends at the scene of the fight talking about how Superman was just here. We are now seven pages into the issue and the reader has received the barest minimum of actual content or story progression.
Bendis and Walker then burn two pages showing Naomi searching the web for stories about Superman in her hometown. Really? Two entire pages of a character silently googling for news articles. It is stunning how hideously decompressed, shallow and boring this story is at this point.
Next is a one page scene of Naomi running to where Superman has returned to help clean up. Then one page of Superman just finishing up cleaning and then leaving. Then one page of Naomi missing seeing Superman and more repetitious Bendis speak that simply continues to recycle the dialogue from earlier in the issue. This was three pages of nearly no content that could have been done in a far more effective fashion in one to two pages.
At this point, the reader is now a whopping twelve pages into Naomi #1 and literally nothing at all has happened. There has been next to zero actual content and practically no plot progression at all. This is inexcusable.
Next is a three page scene with the therapist. Bendis and Walker finally decide to wake up and actually give the reader a few crumbs that resemble actual content. We learn that Naomi is adopted and relates to Superman. Now, this is not much content at all and probably did not warrant an entire three pages. But, at this point in the issue, beggars can’t be choosers.
We then get two pages of kids doing more repetitious Bendis speak and the mentioning of something happening twenty years ago.. Next is an entire page of 12 talking heads all cranking out repetitious Bendis speak with each character restating how nothing happened in this town twenty years ago.
We then waste an entire page of Naomi just staring at the scene where Superman was in their town. That’s it. An entire page with no dialogue and nothing happening at all. This could have been done in two panels.
At this point, the reader is nineteen pages into Naomi #1 and all they have gotten is that Superman was seen in a town where nothing happens, Naomi loves Superman because he is adopted like her and something happened in the town twenty years ago. That is it. A stunning nineteen pages in order to deliver in the most miserly fashion as threadbare of a story as possible.
Next is a three page scene of Naomi telling Annabelle that Naomi wants to talk to Dee about what happened twenty years ago. It is flabbergasting that what literally takes maybe three panels at the most is stretched out over three pages. This is grotesquely decompressed and repetitious.
We then end Naomi #3 with a three page scene with Naomi and Dee. This scene then delivers the first real content of the issue since the scene with Naomi and the therapist. This scene does provide for an effective hook ending, but it could have been done more effectively in two pages rather than needlessly stretching it out over three pages.
The reader arrives at the end of Naomi #1 and feels unsatisfied because Bendis and Walker burned an entire issue on simply telling the reader that Superman was in Naomi’s hometown where nothing ever happens for 17 seconds. That Naomi loves Superman because he was adopted just like her. And that something happened in her town on the day that she was adopted. That is it.
Bendis and Walker delivered the absolute bare minimum of actual content in a single issue. Naomi #1 presents the reader with the most basic and rudimentary plotting possible. There is only one real plot-line and nothing else. And that one plot-line is not even delivered until the very final page. Everything leading up to the final page feels like time-wasting and filler.
Naomi #1 presents the reader with an incredibly shallow and thin story. There is just no depth or complexity at all to this issue. Everything is simple and right on the surface. At no point does the story engage the reader and get them invested and immersed into a richly detailed story.
The character work is non-existent in this issue. This dialogue is terrible. Every single character has a completely identical external voice. Everyone gets generic Bendis speak. The dialogue is repetitious and vacuous for most of the issue. It becomes tedious to read.
The characters themselves are all underdeveloped one-dimensional characters. They are nothing more than one-dimensional caricatures you would find on a basic TV sitcom. The bland character work coupled with the fact that all the characters have exact same external voice means that there is no real chemistry between any of the characters. Also, the reader never feels connected to any of the characters at all.
Overall: Naomi #1 was a complete waste of money. Bendis and Walker deliver as little actual content as possible and then proceeded to play a game where they could figure out how many times they could say the same thing over and over throughout the entire issue. This is a failed debut issue that does not sell the reader on wanting to come back for more.
I would definitely not recommend Naomi #1 to anyone other than die-hard Bendis fans. Other than that group of readers, I fail to see what Naomi #1 offers the reader that is not easily exceeded by so many other DC and Marvel comic books already on the market.
Keep in mind that Naomi #1 costs $4. The reader gets practically nothing at all in return for their hard-earned money. We are in a day and age where $6 can purchase one month of Hulu and $8 can get you one month of Netflix. There is just no way at all to justify spending $4 on a comic book that delivers such little content. You get way more content for your entertainment dollar these days. The competition for readers’ entertainment dollars is getting more brutal than ever and comic books like Naomi #1 must offer more value for the dollar if they want to remain relevant.