Hit Or Miss: Netflix's 'Raising Dion'

What began as an indie comic from writer Dennis Liu and illustrator Jason Piperberg  has now become a promising Netflix original with help from actor Michael B. Jordan. The comic was released 4 years ago alongside a live action trailer. The original trailer caught the attention of Michael B. Jordan which led to discussion of producing a television series based on the comic. The story revolves around a single mother, Nicole, who must navigate the difficulties of single parenthood and the budding superpowers of her son. She is helped by her seemingly deceased husband’s best friend. They must protect her son, while slowly uncovering the origins of his powers and the death of her husband. The comic was met with critical praise and success among indie comic book readers. The Netflix series will consist of ten episodes that follow the storyline of the original work. The cast consists of Nicole Wainwright as Nicole Reese, Ja’Siah Young as Dion Reese, Michael B. Jordan as Mark Reese, and Scott Ritter as Pat. 

The trailer opens on Dion and his mother watching a video sent by the father before his disappearance. Music quietly hums underneath. Voiceover plays over the top of heartwarming images of a Dion and Nicole laughing, dancing, and playing. Motherly love pours out of every frame. It is made clear that Dion does not know much about his dad, but he is actively curious about his absence. At around the 40 second mark, we are shown one of Dion’s startling abilities as he teleports into his mother’s arms and away from a speeding car. The music swells and we see a sequence displaying Dion’s developing powers. The vfx are convincing and there looks to be some promising sequences in the series. 

An important narrative revealed is the presence of other superpowered people. The government is aware of these people and are keeping track of their lives. It’s also important that these people are different ages which means Dion was not born with powers. This detail is not entirely clear in the trailer that accompanied the comic book release. Dion’s father is somehow involved in the investigation of a power-generating storm that is connected to the emergence of superpowers in select people. 

The new series certainly looks promising, but it must work hard to balance its familial themes and its sci-fi ambitions. The grand sci-fi narrative could easily eclipse the family narrative that explores a single mother’s journey in raising a son with super powers. This is the most unique aspect of the show and should remain the focus. The trailer spends a bit too much time on fantastical aspects and could have benefited from affirming the micro rather than the macro. The sci-fi genre and superhero stories in general tend to lose themselves in narratives that involve world-ending scenarios. It’s totally possible for a science-fiction narrative to stay small in its scope, but have a large emotional impact. Let’s hope that the show steers clear of this trope and sticks to its roots. Raising Dion premieres on Netflix October 4th. It should not be missed.