It’s A Bird!
If you’re a Superman fan, you know the familiar phrase and it opens up the CW’s latest dip into the DC Universe: Naomi. Judging by the way the premiere episode ends, the question promises to hang around for at least the first half of this season as well. The “Arrowverse” as the CW centric DC Universe is known as has seen a sharp decrease in interest over the past few years. Flagship show Arrow ended after 8 seasons in 2020. Black Lightning wrapped up its 4th and final season in 2021 and Supergirl followed shortly after. What was once an 8 show stronghold has been whittled down to 4: The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman and Superman & Lois.
Tomorrow, one more “metahuman” will be joining the bunch and she’s brand new in more ways than one. Based on a relatively new comic series (Naomi-premiering in 2019), Naomi (the series) is the brainchild of Hollywood hitmaker Ava Duvernay and Paul Garnes. Based on the comic of the same name (written by Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker and illustrated by Jamal Campbell), the show starts off with promise.
It’s A Plane!
Naomi McDuffie (portrayed by Kaci Wallfall, her last name a tribute to Dwayne McDuffie, producer and animator of Static Shock, Justice League Unlimited and Ben 10), is a high schooler who seems to have it all. She’s quirky and intelligent.She has a wide group of friends (despite clearly being into “nerdy” things), runs a Superman blog and has multiple love interests. Not joking-her love interests (both male and female!)-aren’t even truly jealous of each other-yet! I’m not even this put together and I’m an adult. I might be a bit jealous.
Kaci Wallfall gives an incredible performance as the central character. She makes a show that might otherwise feel goofy, real. Her work grounding Naomi in reality makes the mystery of the show-a not quite slow build-even more thought provoking. Naomi and her friends live in Port Oswego, a very small town in Oregon where not much happens. Despite this, Naomi is one of the top Superman bloggers around. That’s saying something when the people in this town don’t actually believe Superman is real. Things begin to feel real for Naomi when she passes out trying to capture footage of a fight between Superman and an unnamed villain that happens right in the town center.
Suddenly she no longer needs her glasses, can hear better than ever and is noticing that other things around town aren’t adding up quite right. Naomi is a journalist and so she does what journalists do best: dig. Unlike other shows with a central mystery however, it’s clear that Naomi plans to crack open the case quickly. I’m a big fan of that and am excited to see what else the show is going to bring forth.
The show feels fresh and invigorating in a way that the more seasoned Arrowverse shows don’t. It doesn’t fit into the same formulaic pattern that those shows do and that’s a great thing. Duvarney’s familiar fingerprints are all over the first episode-which makes sense considering she co-wrote it. The writing isn’t the only place where her touch is apparent however. The music choice is excellent and some classic Duvarney style shots (of people and places) are peppered here and there as well.
Or Is It?
In spite of all my praise, there are some things that I didn’t quite love. Some of the dialogue was heavy and overly expositional. It dragged on moments that should have gone by quickly and explained things that could have been shown. Some of the acting choices were also odd, but given that it’s a pilot episode and the cast is just getting to know each other, this can be excused.
Overall, Naomi promises to be a hit. It’s new and fun in a world where even superheroes have become routine. Naomi raises standards for what the CW (and superhero shows in general) are capable of. It’s clever and cool and quirky all at once and I can’t wait for you all to see it!
Naomi premieres on The CW, January 11, 2022 at 9/8 C.