By Jody Houser, Pere Perez, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse
Valiant Entertainment’s flying, force-field wielding psiot Faith Herbert has gone from core teammate, to starring in a miniseries, then on to her own ongoing title. Faith’s evolution from an unsure young woman into a true heroine has endeared her to audiences, but she’s not finished by a long shot. Now Faith has her very own arch-nemesis.
Issue #2 picks up with Faith in the clutches of superstar actor Chris Chriswell, who lured Faith into a trap in her debut book. This is a good example of writer Jody Houser’s continuity in play, connecting the mini-series with the new Faith ongoing. Chriswell was a frequent player in Faith’s fantasies in the mini-series and a part of what she imagined would be an idealized life. That makes it all the more juicy to discover that he’s just the opposite of her fantasy and his on-screen persona.
Houser also incorporates elements from the larger Valiant Universe, making one them an important part of the plot. I won’t elaborate in order to keep this spoiler free, but this element serves to highlight Faith’s ability to think under pressure. She has always been a likeable character, but it was refreshing to see her be intelligent as well.
As a character, Faith is coming into her own. She’s figuring out how to serve as a superhero. She’s learning how to “adult.” She’s juggling work, superhero responsibilities, and her personal life, trying to determine if and how to make them mesh. Most of all, she’s maturing. Even her dialogue is more mature. There’s less spouting off of nerd culture terms. Houser isn’t pushing that envelope anymore. Faith is simply who she is: a young woman with particular tastes that align themselves to “nerd culture.” Having her drop multitudinous references isn’t doing anyone service. Instead, Houser’s depiction is a mirror of many of Faith’s fans: young adults who lead full lives and who happen to enjoy hobbies like comics and RPGs.
This issue is dedicated to her new arch-nemesis as much as it is to Faith herself. Houser gives us a backstory as well as the reason for his drive – something that many books neglect. While he’s not on par with Toyo Harada (which Faith points out), Chriswell is still a villain, and one with more surprises up his sleeve. There is a resolution to this story, but this promises to be merely a chapter in their intertwined tale.
The title doesn’t take itself too seriously but never strays into silliness. Readers will enjoy Houser’s subtle humor – take a closer look at the ball cap on the last page for an example. Tonally, Faith’s story feels lighter than other titles in the Valiant line. Even the color palette is softer and more airy with light inking. This isn’t a criticism. Longtime fans may crave something edgier ala her Harbinger days, but this title’s tone is true to Faith’s character.
Artist Pere Perez illustrates the core of the book. Marguerite Sauvage handles the flashback scenes. Both artists are talents in their own right. Perez deftly handles the physicality of the scenes, especially those involving large numbers. Perez does an excellent job of depicting Faith’s ample proportions. He doesn’t exaggerate her body, and the result is a realistic representation. His characters are highly expressive. Readers will be able to feel the smugness coming off Chriswell in waves. Sauvage’s renderings are gorgeous as always. She effectively tells an entire backstory within a few pages, circumventing traditional panels in favor of a montage that lends an almost memory book feel to the pages. Colorist Andrew Dalhouse rounds out the book with a light palette that fits the emotional tone of the book. He uses pastels for the majority of the scenes, favoring blues and grays for Faith’s scenes with Chriswell.
Faith #2 is a solid book. Humor, heroism, and attractive art combine to make this story shine. Houser ties this book into earlier appearances and sets up the next chapter well. With the unveiling of her new enemy, this will be a must-have book for Faith fans.