With the announcement of a new solo limited series to debut next January, Valiant’s Faith Herbert is turning heads and getting noticed in a way that would make her inner fangirl squeal. As Valiant fans will attest, she’s a character well worth the attention. If you’ve just discovered Valiant’s plus-sized wunderkind and want to know more about her history, I’ve prepped a Faith 101 primer that will get you up to speed.
In a medium that historically limited the portrayal of women’s body types to certain unrealistic standards, Faith defies convention. Originally debuting in the pages of the 1990s Valiant’s version of Harbinger, Faith was an obese teen with flying powers. While she was sometimes ridiculed by other characters for her size, she was never depicted as slovenly or slow-witted. Valiant eschewed stereotypes both in her physicality and her mentality. Faith handled the insults with aplomb and did her best to do good in the world.
Fast forward to 2012 when the new Valiant Entertainment launched. Once again, Faith was an integral member of the Harbinger cast. Depicted as obese yet attractive, her winsome attitude and positive outlook made her beautiful on the inside as well. Faith’s appearance has been making headlines lately, but don’t be fooled into thinking that her unstereotypical figure is what makes her important. Faith’s body type isn’t what makes her remarkable. With a heart of gold, Faith is a true hero, wanting to serve others and save the world. She is a beacon of hope where others stumble in the dark. Even for those who may not identify with her body type find her love of geek culture (comics, sci fi, gaming) relatable.
Faith has appeared in Harbinger, Harbinger Wars, Armor Hunters, Unity, and The Valiant. Let’s break down what we know about her.
Real Name: Faith Herbert
Superhero Name: Zephyr
Abilities: Flight; Able to project a companion field to allow others to fly with her.
Classification: Psiot. Her latent psionic powers were activated by omega-level psiot Pete Stanchek.
Family: Orphaned as young girl. Raised by her grandmother, deceased. Single.
Home Town: Richmond, Virginia
Known Associates: Original member of the Renegades, the Pete Stanchek-led group of psiots who opposed Toyo Harada. Later did a brief stint as a member of Unity. Ex-boyfriend is Torque, a Renegades teammate.
Heroic Efforts: Actively opposed Toyo Harada, during which she saved the life of Pete Stanchek twice. Helped save many lives alongside the Gen Zero kids in Armor Hunters.
Gamer Tag: HEROGRL08
Geek Culture: As shown in Faith #0, Faith’s parents were comic book collectors. They shared this joy with young Faith, and she inherited their collection after their untimely death in a car accident. Her grandmother took over raising Faith. She encouraged the hobby as well, frequently taking Faith to the local comic shop.
As seen in her room, Faith is also a science fiction fan. Star Wars figures and vehicles adorn her shelves. There’s a Star Trek rug on the floor. A Dalek by her PC. She likes to talk about Firefly, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games. Faith loves Josh Whedon. She even has her own blog and URL, which is registered to Valiant, but not currently being utilized. Perhaps when Faith takes on her reporting job in the miniseries?
Brief History: After having her latent psiot talent to fly activated by Pete Stanchek, she summarily saved him from death during an altercation with Harada. They escaped, and she reveled in her newfound abilities, overjoyed that despite being bullied and lonely, her inner feeling that she was special was indeed true. She had always had dreams of flying, which seems to be a predictor of her ability.
Faith, Pete, and Kris formed the Renegades, a group devoted to finding and activating psiots to help oppose Harada. Before facing Harada again, Flamingo and Torque joined their ranks. The team became like family. They narrowly escaped from Project Rising Spirit (PRS), with Faith once again rescuing Peter. The group also faced down Bloodshot and Harada in Harbinger Wars in an attempt to help liberate another group of psiot children (Gen Zero) that both PRS and Harada wanted control over.
Ultimately, the Renegades exposed Harada to the world by hacking his computer systems and making the data public. This would be the last battle that the team would face together. Flamingo died saving Faith.
From there, Faith and Torque – now her boyfriend — assisted the government. Faith wanted to continue to act as a superhero. During the Armor Hunter war, Faith, Torque, and the Gen Zero kids helped defeat a world-destroying alien insect infestation. From there, they continued to consider their options. Torque wanted to be on a reality show and chase fame. Faith felt that was a waste of their gifts. She received a call to join the Unity team and accepted, leaving Torque behind. Despite her love for him, Faith felt a larger sense of duty.
Her Unity stint was short-lived. Faith became disillusioned by her former heroes and could not accept the lethal methods that the team had to employ. After facing The United, a super team bent on destroying team Unity, she left.
We see Faith briefly in The Valiant as one of the large group of superheroes sent out to slow down the Immortal Enemy. During this battle, we witness her worst fears brought to life. In this case, it was her survivor’s guilt manifested as her dead, decaying parents pulling her down to the ground. Faith had been the sole survivor of the crash that killed her parents.
This brings us to the present. In the Faith miniseries, we will see Faith take on a real world job and fight crime. Undoubtedly these new experiences will include some self-actualization for Faith, and possibly for the readers as well.