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“Naomi” arrives on The CW

by Cass Teague

Kaci Walfall as Naomi McDuffie in NAOMI on The CW Tuesday nights.

“Naomi” is a new African American superhero drama television series, developed by Ava DuVernay, which is based on the comic book series of the same name. It is set to premiere on The CW on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. CST. It will be the first live-action network television show named for a black female teenaged superhero, portrayed by Kaci Walfall.

Naomi McDuffie, also known as “Powerhouse,” is a fictional superhero appearing in media published by DC Entertainment. The character was created by writer Brian Michael Bendis for his Wonder Comics imprint, along with writer David F. Walker and artist Jamal Campbell.

The character’s name is completely a tribute to comic book writer and creator Dwayne McDuffie. Dwayne McDuffie, an African American artist who died in 2011 at age 48, was renowned for his dedication to inclusion and diversity, and whose own writing career focused on underrepresented minorities in American comics. Many remember him as the creator of “Static Shock.”

Naomi has a tremendous amount of an unknown type of energy inside her body. She can fire powerful energy blasts from her hands. This energy makes her super strong and super durable, and allows her to fly. She can also manifest a black and gold costume around her body.

In the first episode, “Pilot,” Naomi McDuffie (Kaci Walfall) is living her best life as a top student, skateboarder and Superman-stan, when a “stunt” in the middle of her hometown of Port Oswego turns her world upside down. While Naomi’s doting parents — Greg and Jennifer McDuffie (Barry Watson and Mouzam Makkar) —  are concerned with their daughter’s strange new fainting spells, the teen’s closest friends —  Annabelle (Mary-Charles Jones), Nathan (Anthony Puig), Lourdes (Camila Moreno), Anthony (Will Meyers), and Jacob (Aidan Gemme) —  join Naomi to help uncover who or what is behind the unexpected event that has the small military town buzzing.

A bit of sleuthing leads Naomi and her friends to discover that the owners of two local businesses —  Dee (Alexander Wraith) and Zumbado (Cranston Johnson) —  seem to know a lot more about the incident than everyone else. Soon Naomi realizes that the mysterious event is just the beginning of a thrilling journey that will change her life and challenge her to question everything she knew to be true. Amanda Marsalis directed the episode written by Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship

In the second episode, “Unidentified Flying Object,”  following a shocking revelation by Dee (Alexander Wraith), Naomi (Kaci Walfall) enlists her friends to dig deeper into the mystery surrounding unexplained occurrences in Port Oswego and whether they have anything to do with her past. Meanwhile, Naomi’s parents (Barry Watson and Mouzam Makkar) are caught off guard by Naomi’s interrogations.

Another ominous encounter with Zumbado (Cranston Johnson) leaves Naomi shaken, and she seeks Dee’s help in taking the next step to embracing her destiny. Also starring Mary-Charles Jones, Daniel Puig, Camila Moreno, Will Meyers and Aidan Gemme. DeMane Davis directed the episode, written by Jill Blankenship, airing Tuesday, January 18 at 8:00 p.m. CST.

“In a lot of ways, Naomi’s television debut feels a lot like her 2019 debut in the pages of DC Comics,” says Jenna Anderson in a review for Comicbook.com. “Both are existing alongside established spaces that recently tried to reinvigorate their existing canon — DC through its “Rebirth” relaunch, and The CW’s DC shows through 2020’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover — with a coming-of-age story that feels both expansive and incredibly intimate in its emotional and narrative scale. While the character has only existed for less than three years, she has quickly become a fan favorite, which has made the idea of a live-action television adaptation of her story feel like a pleasant, but inevitable, surprise.”

Every episode of “Naomi” will be available to stream on CWTV.com and The CW App the day after broadcast for free and without a subscription, log-in or authentication required.

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