By Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse
Team player Faith Herbert takes off on her own solo adventure, both literally and figuratively. Once a key member of Harbinger’s Renegades and briefly super-team Unity, Faith comes into her own with a new miniseries focusing on her escapades as she seeks to establish herself as an independent young adult and solo superheroine.
Faith, aka “Zephyr”, has played an important role in the Valiant Universe since its relaunch in 2012. A psiot with the ability to fly, Faith has saved many lives, most notably that of Renegade Pete Stanchek. More crucially, she served as a moral compass, representing the best in us. Her heart of gold and ebullient attitude have made her a fan favorite, along with her love of geek culture and her norm-defying body type.
Writer Jody Houser takes the reins for the Faith four-part miniseries. The story takes place after Faith’s stint with Unity. Despite her work in saving the world from tyranny (Harbinger) and annihilation (Armor Hunters), she’s never had the opportunity to strike out on her own and prove herself – to herself.
Readers apprehensive that this will be a Mary Tyler Moore-esque story of a young girl making it in the big city need not be worried. Houser stays faithful to the character, embracing her love of pop culture and tropes – Faith purposefully takes on a journalistic alter-ego – but delves deeper into the persona. Faith may have started an ingénue, but she’s been to war. The stark realities have sobered her expectations. Houser has let Faith mature emotionally. It feels like this is the origin story of who Faith will ultimately become – we are seeing her transform from naïve teen to a realistic yet still optimistic woman of ideals.
Houser does an excellent job of tying the piece into the larger Valiant Universe. She acknowledges Faith’s history without an encumbering rehash of the last few years. Readers are given plausible reasons as to why and where Faith is now. There is an expected cameo that ties into her past plus a couple of surprise appearances that present tantalizing new storylines and set the threads for foretold events.
Most of the book is dedicated to establishing Faith’s current circumstances, and while entertaining, the story really takes off when she stumbles upon a larger conspiracy with links to her own history. The cliffhanger ending hooks readers into wanting more.
Artist Francis Portela creates Faith’s world which spans the gamut from Office Space cubicles to bird’s-eye views of Los Angeles. Attention is paid to the details, such as minor background details like Faith’s careless shower puddles on the floor, and to the depiction of her living space which showcases both her personal life in photos as well as her love of pop culture. Portela does an admirable job of realistically depicting Faith’s body type, something that could have been over-exaggerated. Particularly enjoyable is the way in which he captures her emotions.
To differentiate “reality” from daydreams, artist Marguerite Sauvage is brought on board to depict Faith’s flights of fantasy. Her work is an excellent fit for Faith’s personality and dreams, portraying an idealized version of Faith and her world. Colorist Andrew Dalhouse ties it all together. Dalhouse’s colors are warm and bright, befitting Faith’s outlook and matching the emotional tone of the story.
Faith #1 is a solid beginning. Like the character herself, the story has humor and most of all, heart. This is not a story written merely to capitalize on a fan favorite; Faith stands on its own. Existing fans will enjoy a plot that ties into and affects the larger universe. New fans will discover an unconventional and extremely relatable protagonist. You can’t help but to root for Faith, whose inherit goodness shines like a beacon. Faith is a role model, and fans will want to #FlyLikeFaith alongside her on this adventure.