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The Untold Truth Of DC's Naomi McDuffie

We'll forgive you if you'd never heard of Naomi McDuffie before her eponymously named CW show popped onto your radar. For DC Comics devotees, of course, she's been popping up everywhere across their universe, but for casual fans it's understandable. After all, she's only a few years old — at least in real world time. 

But that hasn't stopped her from catching on with fans to the point that she now not only has her own show, "Naomi," it's helmed by none other than Ava DuVernay herself. Yes, the "Selma," "13th," "A Wrinkle in Time" director Ava DuVernay. Naomi, though, is in such a class of her own, DuVernay insists, according to Collider, that she's not crossing over into the Arrowverse at large. Instead, this may be the start of her "Naomi-verse." That's a bold claim, but Naomi's a bold character. 

But we're guessing a ton of folks out there might have some questions. Questions like: Who is she? Where did she come from? What, exactly, are her powers? These aren't easy questions to answer, in big part because we're still figuring that out in the comic books. Naomi's still on a journey of self-discovery and we get to go along with her, right from the start. We dug through this new super teen's brief history and decided to share what we found here. So to help you learn a little more about DC's and the CW's newest superstar, here's the untold truth of Naomi McDuffie. 

Naomi has ties to Marvel's Miles Morales

Okay, so Naomi McDuffie and Miles Morales may not be related, but they do, in a sense, share DNA. Naomi was, in essence, created by Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker while working Marvel's Ultimate Universe Spider-Man, Miles Morales all the way back in 2011. "David was enormously helpful during the birth of Miles Morales," Bendis told Gizmodo, "and during the years we were really building the mythology that became 'Spider-Verse.' And I said to myself, 'Next time we're having this conversation, it's going to be about an original character that we both have investment in,' and that's where the process of Naomi started." 

Bendis elaborated to ScreenRant, saying definitively that "Naomi was created during the 'Spider-Verse' stuff. It's always about what's next. Everybody in comics I ever admired, that's how they behaved. What's next?" What's next was, when Bendis jumped from Marvel to DC, Naomi. There, he could create an original character with Walker.  

Plus, it's not hard to see the similarities between the two BIPOC teen heroes who caught on with fans almost immediately. Miles was so popular, he survived the destruction of Marvel's Ultimate Universe in 2015 and found a new home in main continuity. A few years later, he had his own movie, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." Naomi, in a way, survived the destruction of her own home universe to emigrate to DC's main continuity and has proved so popular, she now has her own television show. 

She's influenced by Bendis and Walker's personal lives

The best characters have a ring of truth to them, and part of what makes Naomi so strong is her creators' truths. Her story starts as one of self-discovery as the adopted teen tries to figure out where she came from as. As Brian Michael Bendis told Gizmodo, she's "the only brown-skinned girl in her part of town. "

For Bendis, her story of self-discovery couldn't be more personal as he has an adopted African-American daughter and another adopted daughter from Ethiopia. As he explained to USA Today back when first creating Miles Morales, he thought, "Wouldn't it be nice for them to have a character or a hero that speaks to them as much as Peter Parker has spoken to so many children? There's nothing wrong with that, and I think we need more of it." Naomi is a true representation of his daughters in comic books. 

Then there are David Walker's experiences as a Black man. "For me, it started with David," Bendis mused to Gizmodo. "He had talked about—at great length—what it was like him growing up as a young person in his part of the world, when it was different than it is now. David would talk about it at great lengths and with great honesty." So between the two writers' life experiences, "we kind of combined them into Naomi."

She's named after Milestone Media founder Dwayne McDuffie

The late Dwayne McDuffie was, without a doubt, one of the greatest figures to have come out of the comic book industry in the last 30 years. The Detroit-born creator worked his way up from writer to editor at Marvel in the '80s and early '90s. But, according to CBR he found himself so disillusioned with the comic book company's treatment of its black heroes, that he pitched a pointed parody named "Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers." It wasn't long after that he struck out with three other Black comic book creators, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle to found Milestone Media, a comic book company created to address the gross underrepresentation of minorities in the industry.

There, helped co-create some of Milestone's biggest names like Icon, Hardware, and Static. While Milestone was given complete editorial control, their comics were published as an imprint of DC, and in later years, McDuffie wrote for titles like "Justice League of America" and "Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight." He also worked in television on "Static Shock" and was a major creative for both "Justice League" and "Justice League Unlimited."

McDuffie, sadly, died in 2011 just after his 49th birthday from complications to emergency heart surgery. Naomi was given her last name to honor the three-time Eisner Award nominated comic book creator — a fact Brian Michael Bendis himself confirmed on Twitter with the Official Dwayne McDuffie Page. 

She comes from an unknown universe

Naomi lives on the main Earth — Earth 0 — in the DC multiverse, but is a refugee from a different universe. The thing is, even after visiting it (twice) we still aren't sure which Earth it is, or if it's even in the multiverse. We're first led to believe it's just another parallel universe in her "Naomi" miniseries, but that's thrown into question by the time she travels there with DC's greatest heroes in "Justice League" #60 – 62. Flash and the Justice League are baffled by where it is, unsure if it's another universe, another dimension, or someplace "outside" of the multiverse.

Worse, when they get there, their powers all start going haywire and parts of Naomi like her hands and feet start fading in and out of existence. Is this other Earth somewhere so alien that the physical laws are different? Was it just the calamity that had destroyed the world what was causing this? We didn't know. And we still don't.

On the "Naomi" TV show, however, the universes seem kind of flipped. The Earth Naomi was adopted into is the odd universe out this time. It's not the main Arrowverse Earth, nor does it seem to have any other super beings. When Superman appears in Port Oswego having a titanic battle, no one believes it's anything other than a ridiculously well-done stunt because Superman's just a comic book character. He's not the hero from "Superman and Lois."

Her biological parents' identities are a mystery

Naomi's home Earth is a desolate, wasteland of a place — but it wasn't always like that. Once, it was a lot like ours. A normal planet with normal people... and a serious climate problem. Unlike us, though, they never managed to stop their Ozone Layer's destruction. And when it vanished, previously unknown radiation began leaking through. Most folks survived it just fine, but out of billions of people, 29 of them gained superpowers. Some wanted to use their powers to help, others to hurt. Naomi's birth parents were the former.

The two factions battled it out, killing half of them, while others decided to just abandon the planet altogether. Sadly, the good guys of this Earth didn't win. The worst of the worst, Zumbado, laid waste to the planet and killed Naomi's parents. They were the only two of the new superbeings who managed to have a kid. None of the others could. That, though, is about all we know about her parents.

No names, no real identities. They sent her to DC's Prime Earth as a baby and Naomi only learns about all this in "Naomi" #5. Any thoughts that we might have gotten any other answers when Naomi and the Justice League visited her home universe were dashed. We mostly only saw the villains and everything was too out of control to learn more about Naomi's long-dead parents. In the end, we were just left with even more questions.

Naomi's adoptive father isn't from Earth either

Stop us if you've heard this one. A panicked teenager starts exhibiting super powers, so their adopted parents decide it's time to reveal the truth. And that truth begins with their dad revealing a spaceship. No, we aren't talking about Superman, but Naomi. And that ship isn't the one she came to Earth in. She came through a portal. It's her father's.

Naomi's dad, it turns out, isn't from Earth any more than she is. He is from this universe, but he hails from Rann, the planet that DC's atomic age superhero Adam Strange protects. Greg McDuffie is a veteran of the Rann-Thanagar war, one of DC's great cosmic battles that first began back in 2005. He was assigned to Earth to track down a Thanagarian assassin — who turns out to be Naomi's pal, Dee.

Thanagar is Hawkman's home planet (well, in one of the reborn Hawk's incarnations), hence Dee's wings in the show. Greg, though, met Naomi's adoptive mom and decided he wanted out of the nonstop Rannian conflict. He settled down on Earth, decided to let Dee go about his life doing the same, and then they discovered Naomi, sent through from her Earth to live on this one. Her family, it turns out, is as blended as they come.

She's been a member of Young Justice and the Justice League

To go from a normal teen to DC's biggest, most powerful super team in just a matter of years is a huge leap. But Naomi doesn't take things slow. Within hours of gaining her powers, she flies to Metropolis and tracks down Superman in "Action Comics" #1014. She then meets Batman, the Atom and the Wonder Twins. That night Batman and Superman take her back home and set her up with S.T.A.R. Labs... where she meets Young Justice returning from a jaunt around the multiverse.

They take her in, then, just days later, when the supervillain Brutus attacks from her home Earth, the Justice League tracks her down to see what she knows. By the end of the adventure, she's a full-fledged member. Young Justice seemed like a natural fit, of course, but the Justice League? That's virtually unheard of.

That was always more of a Justice Society thing. The modern version of their group allowed the original, Golden Age heroes of the '40s to train the younger legacy heroes of today. Stargirl, for example, was a member, which is why the CW show has her lead her own version of the Justice Society. There is, though, one compelling reason as to why Naomi has cropped up so much all over the DC Universe in the years since her creation — she appears in whatever book one of her creators, Brian Michael Bendis, writes. But hey, good for Naomi.

Naomi has anxiety issues

In the comics, Naomi is a typical modern teenager in many ways — one of them being her anxiety issues. Right from her first issue we meet both Naomi and her therapist. When Batman first meets her in "Action Comics" #1016, he examines her and her new powers, asking if she's dizzy. The exchange that follows is adorably human. She first replies that she's not dizzy, just anxious. "Are you normally?" he asks. "Anxious?" She clarifies. "Yeah." Batman points out that she's sixteen. "Seventeen," she corrects him.

As she gains superpowers and learns about her parents' deaths at the hands of Zumbado, that anxiety starts emerging in different ways, like a propensity for angry outbursts. After a couple of those with the Justice League, Naomi apologizes and insists that she's not really like that. If the League had met her just a few days earlier before she discovered her powers, she wouldn't be this angry.

But that's pretty much how any teenager would handle having her life turned upside down. Kids and teens are amazingly resilient... but they have their limits. And lashing out and crossing wires between fear and anxiety and anger is pretty much what teenagers do. This, though, is a far cry from the calm, self-assured, popular "geek" of the CW's "Naomi." Of course, her life still has a ways to go before it's upended, so how this Naomi will handle the upheaval remains to be seen.

She's had a "Season 2" planned for years

If folks are wondering just how this superhero no one heard of three years ago got her own CW show, maybe it's because she was practically tailor-made for television from the start. Her introductory miniseries is referred to as "Season 1" and was released in 2019. A second season has been promised for years now, and finally, we're getting it in March of 2022.

The second season got pushed back as Naomi toured much of the DC Universe. She went through not just Young Justice and the Justice League, but also was a backup feature in Superman's own "Action Comics." She was, after all, created for folks new to DC and as she was introduced into the wider universe, new readers got to go along for the ride. It was a slightly less intimidating way for them to get into the comic book world than trying to figure out where to start in a company that's been churning out stories for almost 90 years.

The thing is, while years — and a slew of comic books — have passed in the real-world, only a few weeks have passed in Naomi's time. But she's been through a lot, and Naomi's creators make clear to IGN that this "season" isn't a sequel, so much as a "new chapter" in her life. Whether this is a prelude to her getting a second season of her television show, though, remains to be seen.

Zumbado is one of DC's greatest villains ever

Saying a supervillain who's made just a couple brief appearances is one of DC's greatest villains may seem a bit extreme, but that's exactly what Zumbado was created to be. Even before he gained his considerable powers, he was a piece of work. When the 29 of Naomi's Earth first gained their powers, he was in the electric chair for mass murder. He started the war between the new beings on Naomi's Earth, conquering the world and laying waste to a good chunk of it. 

Naomi runs into him briefly in her own series, then again in Justice League #62. The rest, it seems, is being saved for Season 2. "The threat is coming," Bendis told CBR, "and we see it's enormous. It's world burning. As exciting as it is to drop Naomi on the DC Universe, it is very exciting to come up with an original bad guy that you can unleash on the whole universe."

Artist Jamal Campbell took it further, telling Screenrant that Zumbado "is the giant Superman-level threat who wants to take over your planet, or destroy it." He went on to add that the new villain "has to be able to stand among Darkseid, and Mongul, and these huge villainous embodiments of evil. I just wanted him to emanate evil and terror and darkness. The darkest, most disgusting, evil parts that just sit in the back of your mind that you don't want to look at."

Naomi is a "Mega-Power"

Flight, durability, strength, energy manipulation — when it comes to powers, Naomi seems to have quite a few. But it's not just quantity, it's quality. In Justice League #61 Batman tells Superman that Naomi may be a "Mega-Power" — and it comes across as something that vaguely impresses him. Besides being the fact that his best friend is Superman, one of the most powerful beings in not just the universe, but the entire multiverse, this is Batman we're talking about. He doesn't get impressed easily.

The thing is, "Mega-Power" is something new in the DC Universe. Marvel's long been fond of classifying its mutants as everywhere from Beta to Omega level, with the Omegas like Jean Grey being virtual gods. But DC just refers to everyone with powers as metahumans — or aliens. Some, like Wonder Woman and Superman can, indeed, go toe to toe with gods, while others operate a lot more... small-scale. No offense, Matter Eater Lad.

When Naomi's mother explains what happened on their Earth in an encoded message in "Naomi" #5, she explains that the gave formerly normal people "more power than even the superheroes in our movies." As the offspring of two of these empowered beings, it makes sense that Naomi would be just as powerful, if not more so. And since just one of them — Brutus — was able to wipe the floor with both Superman and Black Adam, it would seem that whatever else it entails, Mega-Power is synonymous with godlike.