By Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse
Oh ye of little faith. The creative team behind Faith continues to prove detractors wrong by delivering an engaging and thoughtful story about a young woman finding her place in the world – as both a superhero and a young adult.
Faith is a four-part miniseries starring psiot Faith Herbert. Harbinger fans are well-acquainted with Faith, who served as the heart and moral guide of her band of fellow psiots, the Renegades. “A Hero in the Real World” is the latest chapter in the miniseries. It’s an apt title for the struggles between expectations and reality.
Faith is an appealing character with friendly charm and a relatable love for comic books and geek culture. She may be one of the kindest heroines out there, frequently seeing the good in others yet resolutely standing up for her beliefs. Her goal is to be a superhero, not for fame or fortune, but to help others. Faith has been a part of multiple teams in the past, including Unity. The methods of these groups didn’t always agree with our gentle heroine. This story is about her journey to accomplish her goal on her own terms.
As a character, Faith is a fan favorite both for her personality and her relatability. Part of that relatability is her physique; Faith is obese. This has been sparking heavy media coverage, making Faith one of the most written about books in the Valiant lineup. Many fans and new readers have come forward to say how much it means to them to see someone like themselves depicted as a hero. Other responses are critical of the use of an obese character. While it’s laudable that Valiant has eschewed the normal portrayal of over-sexualized women, it’s also notable that Faith’s weight is not the focus of the story. It’s just another aspect of her appearance, part of who she is as a whole. If anything, her size makes her more approachable and believable. American readers undoubtedly see more people fitting Faith’s body type than of the typical comic book heroine’s extreme measurements.
Writer Jody Houser continues to define Faith not as an ingénue, but as an intelligent yet sometimes uncertain young woman. Again, this reflects the “real world”, and it’s been enjoyable to witness Faith roll with the punches. Having lived through battles with the Harbinger Foundation and the Armor Hunters among others has grounded her to the realities of heroism. She’s no longer the naïve child who sees being a superhero as simple heroics. It’s complex and fraught with spur of the moment decisions that have lasting ramifications. With both work and superhero life throwing challenges at her, Faith must navigate these hurdles without the benefit of a team for moral and physical support. The majority of the book is inner monologue, allowing readers to experience these moments of uncertainty and determination through Faith’s eyes. It’s an effective method for telling a coming-of-age superhero story.
The action in this book picks right back up after the “explosive” first issue. We delve a bit deeper into the mystery, with Houser giving readers access to information that Faith has not yet found. Adding to the tension is the collision of Faith’s “daytime job” and her personal life. The mystery surrounding the missing psiots and a betrayal of trust at work both come to a boil in the same pot, ending in a highly volatile situation.
Artist duties are again shared by Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage. Portela illustrates the majority of the book and excels at depictions of Faith in flight. There is a consistency to the weight and smoothness of his lines. Portela tends to put more detail into the parts of the panel where he wants the readers’ attention focused. For instance, in a scene showing the reunion of a mother and child, the fine lines and detail are applied to the duo while additional characters in the scene, such as Faith, have undefined features. This method is similar to memory. We remember strong emotions and items of importance. This scene was all about the mother and child, therefore they retain the importance in Portela’s method.
Like all of us, Faith daydreams scenarios that look like a fantastical, idealized version of her world. These flights of fancy are illustrated by Margarite Sauvage, who gives the scenes a glossy, dreamy quality, showing Faith in her best light. Incidentally, this fantasizing is a holdover from Faith’s early Harbinger days, and serves as a nice bit of character continuity. Sauvage’s glamorous take is a good contrast to the grounded, natural style of Portela.
Colorist Andrew Dalhouse gives the book continuity, maintaining a realistic color scheme throughout. He uses color naturally in both interiors and exteriors, such as realistic wood flooring or moonlit night. Faith does embrace a certain quirky pop culture, and Dalhouse uses bright values to exemplify this energy via vibrant hair colors and clothing. This is most noticeable in Faith’s work environment, which is essentially a pop culture wasteland. A different color palette is employed on Sauvage’s fantasy sequences. Baby pinks, soft blues, and other pastels give these scenes a softer tone that emphasize the dreamy quality.
Faith #2 flies into stores on February 24th. A unique superhero outlook with robust lead character development make this book a solid read. Try this out if you are looking for a believable and likeable hero.