Last week while once again writing about DC's teams of super-teens (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy - The Return of a Classic DC Character, Sort Of”), I noted Wonder Comics had titles featuring non-powered teens. Like Naomi, co-written by Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker and drawn by Jamal Campbell, which shipped this week. Being a better phraser than a paraphraser, instead of attempting to summarize the premise I'll just quote from the solicitation:
“When a fight between Superman and Mongul crashes into a small Northwestern town, Naomi (last name?) begins a quest to uncover the last time a super-powered person visited her home—and how that might tie into her own origins and adoption.”
It’s the Wonder Comic I've most wanted to read, because it most likely will be very good, but yes also because it features a young black female character. Which has nearly nothing to do with the importance of diversity or me signaling that I am virtuous as it is about I’m always looking for something I haven’t read before. And given how rare protagonists like Naomi are in mainstream comics, I'm fairly confident Naomi will be a comic I haven't already read, repeatedly.
Given how comics featuring female black characters have sold in comic book shops it’s likely retailers have significantly under-ordered Naomi #1, despite DC making the first issue fully returnable. While understandable, I recall there was this other comic written by Bendis about a young character of color. Before it came out, ordering copies of its first issue was also considered to be a pretty risky proposition.Why ‘Aquaman’ Slayed In China.
Or Black Panther getting nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
Along with being good for business, inclusion has a huge cultural impact, Exhibit A being a recent New York Times piece, A Father Confronts His Spider-Verse’ Problem by Lawrence Ware. Ware’s problem with it is basically that it should have been Miles Morales’ movie. Even though he liked Gwen Stacy, Spider-Noir and, yes, even Spider-Ham, Miles Morales should have had a movie all his own, like all of the previous Spider-Men. And he has a point. On the other hand, he says:
“My sons loved this movie. They have taken to listening to the music from it. They told all their friends to watch it. They deem it the best Marvel movie to date (and it is). They have not stopped talking about the film, and this is all because they saw themselves in the characters that looked like them on the screen.
“Quinn, who is 8, thinks he is Miles Morales. He zips around the living room on pretend spider webs and fights imaginary bad guys, much to his mother’s chagrin."
So Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse made a whole lot of money, increased brand awareness and helped create a new generation of fans. Mission Accomplished, movie.
I'm not saying Naomi will be the next big thing; it most likely won't, but I would say it has a far better chance of breaking big than any other comic released this week. And while I don’t think the value of Naomi #1 will immediately skyrocket, I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if the character didn’t start appearing in DC movies and TV series. And if she does, well, having copies of her 1st Appearance might just be a handy thing to have on hand in a couple of years.
“Teenager Miguel Montez discovers the long-lost H-Dial, an ancient and unbelievably powerful rotary phone that gives its users (seemingly) random superpowers for one hour. With evil factions desperate to get their hands on its power, Miguel steals the only mode of transport he can—his uncle’s food truck—and hightails across the country to give the H-dialer to the one man who can keep it safe: Superman.”
Being an especially old Comic Book Guy, I read the original when it came out and due to the wish-fulfillment appeal of its premise and beautiful art by Jim Mooney it has remained a sentimental favorite. So, I would be pretty much on board with any revival. But it certainly helps that Bendis appears to have the proper level of respect for the H-Dial (which he has dubbed "the greatest MacGuffin in the DC Universe"), and that the new series will explain whatever happened to its original owner Robby Reed. Plus, it’s nice that there's no attempt to update the concept (i.e. the H-Dial isn't now an app), though I did question the decision to insert it into a rotary phone. Until I realized it was the most logical place for a dial to be. Plus for today's readers, a rotary phone is just the sort of ancient, unfamiliar object likely to bestow superpowers on someone in a comic book.
Then there’s Wonder Twins, yes, Zan and Jayna from the Super Friends cartoon. In this version, written by Mark Russell and drawn by Stephen Byrne, the Twins are exiled on earth and along with being interns at the Hall of Justice attend South Metropolis High School. And while they definitely have superpowers, the school setting would be a good opportunity to bring in DC's long-neglected non-powered teens Binky, Buzzy, Debbie, Scooter, and Scribbly as background characters.
And it wouldn't hurt if Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog, the characters that the Twins replaced on Super Friends, at least made a cameo; they deserve that much. If you've forgotten, back in 2008 in the pages of Teen Titans #62 Wendy and Marvin were horribly mauled by a demonic monster version of Wonder Dog (see "Confessions of a Comic Book - Wither Wonder”). Marvin died, Wendy spent a year in a coma and upon regaining consciousness discovered she was partially paralyzed. I don't think anyone would mind much if that bit of continuity got retconned away.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.