I love it when comics manage to surprise me. Especially when said comic has been running for over eighty years. Yet, that’s exactly what Action Comics managed to do this month…and in the most delightful way possible.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Welcome back to Super Here For… our column here on DCComics.com devoted entirely to the Man of Steel. If you’re a regular visitor, you may have noticed that Super Hero For… has been super MIA for most of the summer. No, Superman hasn’t been on vacation. Rather, we’ve had a few changes here behind the scenes.
Super Here For… was conceived and launched by Sydney Bucksbaum, who’s not only a phenomenal writer, but also one of the biggest Superman fans that I know. The idea is simply to let you know what’s going on in the pages of Superman, Action Comics, Supergirl or any of DC’s in-universe Superman comics that we’re…well, super here for. Sadly, Sydney has moved on and is no longer able to continue the column (though you should ABSOLUTELY follow her on Twitter and read her stuff on EW.com), so it’s fallen on me to pick up where she left off and keep Super Here For… flying high.
Hey, it may not be a sidebar in the Daily Planet, but I’ll take it!
And man, I picked quite a month to get started, didn’t I? So much has been happening! Superman’s teaming up with Batman to hunt down the Batman Who Laughs and his infected superheroes! Part one of the long-running “Unity Saga” has reached its end with a visit by the Legion of Super-Heroes and a remarkable offer for Jon. Rogol Zaar has finally been defeated—thanks to an assist by General Zod—and is now being held in custody on Thanagar. And I haven’t even touched on the debut of both Lois Lane and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, which have both launched since our last Super Here For… column. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to Lois and Jimmy soon enough because I think they’re two of the best comics on the stands right now.)
However, I’d like to direct your attention to the very end of this week’s Action Comics #1014, if I may—though you might want to stop here if you haven’t read it yet because we’re getting into possible spoiler territory.
After an eventful issue that included the mysterious (and seemingly way evil) Marisol Leone introducing herself to Clark Kent, a battle with a brutal S.T.A.R. Labs-generated monster and an attack on Thorn by the Red Cloud, Superman spots someone falling to earth in a stream of pure, golden energy. He goes to intercept and discovers that the fallen hero is a young woman named Naomi...
Now, if you haven’t been reading Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker and Jamal Campbell’s Naomi, you need to go and do that right now. The book’s debut story arc is now complete and the collection will be out at the end of October, but trust me, you don’t want to wait. Naomi McDuffie is one of the DC Universe’s newest heroes—she’s so new she doesn’t yet have a superhero name and is still figuring out how to use her powers—and she’s one of the best things to happen to Earth-0 since the return of Wally West. I don’t want to spoil too much for those of you who haven’t read her series, but I’ll say that Naomi has a backstory that ties into some of the DCU’s richest intergalactic history. However, despite this, she hasn’t appeared outside the pages of her own series…until now.
I realize her appearance in a second book isn’t unusual in and of itself. It’s a shared universe after all. But there’s never a guarantee that a new character will ever make the leap from one series to another. In fact, when you consider how many characters are created in the DC Universe every month, it’s actually pretty rare. And from the start, Naomi has been an unusual title in that it’s not technically an ongoing series. The first storyline—or “season” as they’re calling them—was only six issues long, and while the creative team has assured us that more Naomi is on its way, fans of the book and the character really didn’t know when we’d be seeing her again.
So, it was a very welcome surprise for her to appear on the last page of Action Comics #1014. And yes, it WAS a surprise. At least, for me. As part of DC, comic book spoilers are usually unavoidable for me. Any big twist, event or character appearance is typically communicated to us well in advance…but somehow, I didn’t hear about this one. Maybe I missed the e-mail or something. (I certainly missed the issue #1015 cover, which has her on it.) The point is, this twist managed to surprise me, and for a Naomi fan, it represents the best news possible.
That’s because while Naomi has been pretty successful for a brand-new title, there are plenty of readers out there who won’t read it because it’s not a character they know. This isn’t meant as a criticism. New books and new heroes represent something of a risk if you’re a comic reader with limited money and time. Left solely in her own book, thousands of comic fans would never discover Naomi McDuffie. But put her in a Superman comic and that changes pretty quickly.
We still don’t know why Naomi is in Metropolis and what she’s going to ask from Superman. But thanks to Bendis bringing her to Action Comics, the Man of Steel’s already started helping her. And who knows? If there are any comic fans out there who enjoyed Naomi but wouldn’t usually pick up a Superman comic, maybe they’ll give the latest Action Comics storyline a shot, as well. I mean, Clark would be the first person to tell you that help often comes from where you least expect it.
Feel free to find me on Twitter and let me know what you thought of the last page of Action Comics this week, or if you just want to geek out over Naomi, I’m good with that too. For the rest of you, I’ll see you in a month!
Tim Beedle covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com. Look for him on Twitter at @Tim_Beedle.