“Every superhero has a backstory to tell. “And this is mine,” the adolescent protagonist reveals at the start of “Naomi, “The latest DC Comics-inspired series on the CW. However, the genesis tale unfolds slowly, like a typical high-school drama with a dash of superheroics thrown in to keep the audience engaged.
On the other side, Kaci Walfall’s Naomi is a likeable character, and her coming-of-age struggle echoes that of past heroes in training who are told they are “not like everyone else,” a rich tradition if there ever was one.
Still, for those who aren’t lured in by more mundane concerns about which of the many classmates interested in her she might end up dating, the idea of pulling out truths about who she is and her destiny at such a rapid rate proves troublesome.
“Naomi,” created by Jill Blankenship (“Arrow”) and directed by Ava DuVernay, has a tenuous connection to Superman, which makes its pairing with “Superman & Lois” (one of the CW’s latest roster additions) completely natural. Naomi maintains a fan site devoted to what everyone believes is the fictional character of Superman before a peculiar experience both disturbs that assumption and exposes Naomi to the possibility that there is more to the story of her own adoption than she knows.
Naomi also meets two mystery adults, Dee (Alexander Wraith) and Zumbado (Cranston Johnson), who seem to know a lot about what’s going on and where she fits into the bigger picture. However, for the first two episodes, they’re content to drip out information and speak primarily in riddles, with occasional references to other DC universe quadrants that feel like small tokens of appreciation for sitting through them.
In essence, “Naomi” joins a long history of teen-with-a-destiny dramas — “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” comes to mind as a relic of the CW’s early days — in which the audience either gets into the soapy aspects or zaps through the at-school diversion to get to the good parts. For those who prefer the latter, preliminary impressions indicate that the series will be a long one.
The fact that “Naomi” is based on a Black adolescent is a positive step toward diversity. But if it wants to stick around long enough to see her grow up, the show needs to crank up the pace and deliver more superhero-style strikes.