You’re going to hear a lot about Faith in the coming days, weeks and months. First reappearing in the relaunched Valiant Universe in 2012 in Harbinger, Faith, codenamed Zephyr, was often ton the receiving end of many digs about her weight; perhaps the most often quoted one is a passerby remarking “that fat girl sure is light on her feet.” Then, earlier this year she appeared in a four issue miniseries that garnered a lot of praise and media attention for the lead character Faith Herbert‘s body size, her relentless optimism, and the way that the comic written by Jody Houser has been speaking to fans on so many levels. That first issue reached numerous printings, becoming the fastest comic to reach a fifth print run. Ever.
Needless to say, sensing they may have something good, Valiant announced that Faith would reappear in a new ongoing series starting in July. But once you get past the hype, and the importance of the series in the wider world, the inevitable question of whether the comic is actually any good will be asked?
To answer that question, I want to go back to the 3rd issue of the miniseries, for a moment. When those issues were coming out there was, quite rightly, a lot of praise around the previous two issues. The comic was a huge deal for many people in portraying a plus sized woman as an extremely capable superhero, and while that is certainly a very important milestone, the third issue had, in this critic’s opinion, the best moment in comics this year. At most three or four pages (if you haven’t read that issue, I’m about to spoil it so skip ahead a paragraph if you haven’t read that series and you’re reading this now), it was the moment when Faith, as Zephyr, burst out of a closet disregarding her secret identity as she tried to save the lives of two coworkers.
It was, pardon the pun, an incredibly revealing scene for both the character and the audience.
Jody Houser‘s writing in this scene as Faith was willing to throw away everything for the sake of two people who she wasn’t overly close too, was stunning. Aside from it being a great scene, Houser took aim at those heroes who are so consumed with keeping their own secret that they waste time when lives are in danger. That’s not Faith. By playing with the long established media style employment of so many comic book characters, Houser lets the audience realize within the first two issues that the eponymous superhero is as good as some of the long established male heroes, but with that one scene Faith surpasses them all because to her, human life is more important than her secret.
In the grand scheme of things, it was a relatively simple, yet profound moment. Yet this is what Faith is full of; simple moments that you can really relate too. There may not be anything as momentous as the afore mentioned scene (at least not yet), but there’s a lot of smaller yet equally as interesting moments laced within the first issue. The first couple of pages are dedicated to refreshing you as to the events of the miniseries, without giving too much away if you’ve not read it (something that Jody Houser is very adept at). The comic reinforces just how like us Faith is; she’s a Dungeons And Dragons Mythos and Mayhem playing, comic book loving sci-fi nerd who also has super powers.
She is what we hope we would be if we had powers (and a heart of gold). That Faith is a plus sized woman is undoubtedly a great thing for diverse representation, but she is more than her body shape. As Jody Houser says “that [Faith] represents a group of people not featured in comics very often is important, but it’s not the most interesting thing about her. People want to see themselves in comics, but they don’t want to see a character who is just one aspect of themselves—they want to see a fully-fledged person.”
And so here we are; in what is arguably Valiant‘s biggest release of the year, where Faith Herbert gets to star in her first ongoing solo series. With all the buzz around Faith, the issue is sure to move faster than a hungry Brit chasing down some fish and chips (I can say that. I’m English).
But is the comic good enough to deserve the attention it’s going to get?
That’s a tough question to answer, because although the first issue is very good, there’s a risk that it could get buried under the weight of the miniseries. This is a continuation of the character’s story, yes, but it’s also a fresh start for those who didn’t pick up said miniseries, so there is a little bit of the comic that retreads ground that some readers will have already covered; but those pages are so much more effective than a typical recap page, and have the added bonus of being wonderfully illustrated by Colleen Doran.
At this point, it’s safe to say that Jody Houser‘s writing is worth reading, and the same is equally true of the art; Pere Perez illustrates the main story line, with Marguerite Sauvage giving life to Faith‘s fantasy sequences. The three artists on this comic are brought together by colourist Andrew Dalhouse, and the superb palette used ties the differing styles together while ensuring the reader can easily discern the fantasy elements.
So, I’ll ask myself again, is Faith #1 worth reading? The answer is an emphatic yes it is, but this is also a slower moving comic than the first issue of the miniseries, which allows Houser to build toward something great over several issues. Personally, I like that as it allows new readers (of which there will hopefully be many) to really get to know the character we’ll be following for the foreseeable future.
Add this series to your pull list and find out why you should be reading this comic; because it’s the kind of comic that all superhero fans should be reading.
Story: Jody Houser Artist: Pere Perez
Fantasy Sequence: Marguerite Sauvage
Origin Sequence: Colleen Doran
Colour Art: Andrew Dalhouse
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Valiant provided a FREE copy for review, although I picked it up anyway. Previously posted on Graphic Policy