The CW’s Naomi: Midseason Review

If there’s one thing the super hero world needs more of, it’s women of color saving the day. They already do in real life, so why not depict that in the fictional worlds we consume? Thankfully, trailblazers like Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship sought to revitalize the genre with a new hero: Naomi McDuffie. Thus, Naomi, The CW’s latest addition to its DC roster, was born.

Naomi premiered on January 11, 2022, and stars Kaci Walfall as the eponymous teenage heroine. The rest of the cast includes Mary-Charles Jones as Annabelle, Daniel Puig as Nathan, Cranston Johnson as Zumbado, Stephanie March as Akira, Will Meyers as Anthony, Camila Moreno as Lourdes, Mouzam Makkar as Jennifer, Alexander Wraith as Dee, and Barry Watson as Greg.

As we’re entering the halfway point of season 1, I’m giving you an easy-to-digest breakdown of all things Naomi, in case you’re on the fence about starting the show. Read on, friends!

What You Need to Know

Naomi draws inspiration from the comic book series of the same name by writers Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker and artist Jamal Campbell.

Naomi’s surname, McDuffie, is an homage to the late comic book artist Dwayne McDuffie, who endeavored to elevate marginalized voices in comics. Naomi‘s first issue was published in 2019.

In the series, Naomi resides in Port Oswego with her adoptive parents, Jennifer, a doctor, and Greg, a military officer. She’s a 16-year-old all-star student who runs a Superman fansite. One day, Superman takes on Mongul in Port Oswego, and the supernatural occurrence triggers something peculiar in Naomi. It catalyzes latent powers in her, including X-ray vision and the ability to fire energy blasts from her hands.

Naomi discovers that a cosmic event on her birthday might unlock the mystery surrounding her newfound powers. Dee, an enigmatic Thanagarian masquerading as the local tattoo artist, takes her under his figurative (and literal) wing.

Greg and Jennifer lead Naomi to where they found her as a baby, resting on a mysterious rock etched with an alien language. Naomi learns she hails from Earth-29, an entirely different universe, along with the seemingly villainous Zumbado, who thwarts Naomi’s attempts to discover who she is every step of the way.

While Naomi barrels down the path of self-discovery, she deals with a love triangle, including Nathan, Anthony, and Lourdes. Her best friend Annabelle accompanies her on this journey and is the only one at school who knows Naomi’s true identity. Her father Greg contends with the military in Port Oswego, who wish to track down and decimate every alien they can find. Naomi’s parents do everything in their power to shield her from the government.

Most recently, in season 1 episode 6, “Homecoming,” Naomi encountered Dr. Bell at S.T.A.R. Labs, who pretended to help Naomi decipher a fragment of the spaceship in which she arrived. However, Dr. Bell only wanted to zap Naomi of her powers for selfish gain, to fuel her continued work in the lab.

Naomi Analysis

Naomi‘s source material is fascinating, but the show is a slow burn. It doesn’t fire on all cylinders right out of the gate; instead, it methodically lays its pieces in a way that might annoy some viewers. Kaci Walfall is immensely charming, an endearing lead the show fleshes out, probably more so than the supporting characters. While it’s vital we have a well-rounded lead character, the secondary players also need some dimensions. It feels like Naomi forgets to inject nuance into everyone else around the titular lead.

On another note, the teeny-bopper soapy stuff might grate viewers who aren’t teens or who typically shy away from the pristine glossiness The CW offers. In addition, the love triangle starts as one, but now Naomi is in a monogamous pairing. That could change, though, as the other two are persistent. The show spends too much time developing the least exciting aspects of the story; here’s hoping Naomi abandons it in favor of more super hero antics soon.

Naomi breaks barriers. For starters, the main character is a Black teen, who we don’t often see as super heroes, let alone those of extraterrestrial origin (like Superman, Noami’s fave crimefighter!). Naomi’s adoptive parents are a mixed couple: Greg is white while Jennifer is Indian. The series also hints at the possibility that Naomi is pansexual, or at least bisexual. She expresses interest in Lourdes along with Nathan and Anthony.

There are healthy family dynamics, where the parents openly support the romantic choices of their daughter. Not only that, but they know about Naomi’s identity, which is a rarity in genre TV.

There’s an intriguing mystery ripe for exploration. The show’s incredibly slow, but if you stick with it, you’ll see the puzzle pieces shift together. Naomi fares best when it leans on its intricate DC lore, so here’s hoping we get more of its comic book mythology in the future and connections to The CW’s overarching DC universe.

What Might Be Next 

According to Naomi‘s comic origins, Greg McDuffie is a former soldier from Rann. Rannians’ rivals are none other than Thanagarians, AKA Dee’s race. In the episode where Dee has dinner with the McDuffies, Greg appears to trust Dee the least, asking him questions out of a sheer desire to provoke rather than get to know him. So, I hope the show reveals Greg’s real identity. Right now, Naomi depicts him as a run-of-the-mill, middle-aged man armed with cheesy dad jokes and smiles for days.

Greg also boasts a connection to Green Lantern Corps, so it would be cool to see a Green Lantern pop up on the show. On the Thanagar side of things, I’d love to get an appearance from a well-known DC character like Hawkman. Make it so!

Eventually, Zumbado takes Naomi back to Earth-29, so perhaps we’ll see that happen near the end of the season, along with Greg’s identity unveiling. Naomi also flies to Metropolis and meets Superman and Batman. Tyler Hoechlin is The CW’s Superman — maybe he’ll appear on Naomi briefly.

We’ve only seen a bit of Stephanie March’s Akira, who, in the comics, aided Naomi’s birth parents in sending her to Earth after Zumbado destroyed Earth-29. I hope we’ll get more backstory from her and her connection to Naomi’s mother and father.

Overall, Naomi is worth checking out — be sure to remain patient as it takes a while to warm up. But the rich lore on the horizon, just waiting for exploration, spells exciting things for this show. I’m curious to see where it all goes. 

Have you watched Naomi yet? If so, what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!