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Faith #4

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By Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse with Pete Pantazis

“Herstory” is making history. Going out with a “bang,” Faith #4, the final act of Valiant’s “little superhero that could” miniseries, will be flying off the shelves April 27th. Fists are flying (and so is Faith) in this final tale that resolves the kidnappings and sets the tone for Faith’s future.

Faith, written by Jody Houser, focuses on a young woman with psiot abilities, most notably the ability to fly. A long time fixture in the Valiant Universe, Faith is coming into her own as a character and as a heroine. Lauded for breaking the norm regarding female hero depiction, Faith has garnered as many fans due to her appealing personality as she has for her relatable body type.

This may be a solo title, but there are appearances from notable characters in the Valiant Universe, tying in elements that originated in Harbinger, Archer and Armstrong, and X-O Manowar. This lends the story credibility and helps draw in fans of those titles. The humor and lighter tone of the writing keep this book fun and give it its own unique thumbprint. Houser’s story incorporates the larger Valiant Universe while still remaining a personal piece. Told from Faith’s perspective, readers are treated to an intimate telling of a potentially catastrophic adventure. This approach creates a highly personal story, making the insights into Faith’s persona just as important as the grand scheme. It’s a nice juxtaposition. This huge universe-changing event is just a small kernel of a story told within the larger outer shell of a character’s experience.

As Faith herself notes, it’s the big and little moments that make this her story. There’s plenty of action in this final book as Faith and friends take on the Vine cult, and while this maneuvering does encompass most of the story, it’s the little bits and pieces that feel important. Her friendship with Archer, her stance regarding violence, her non-superhero life. All of these smaller bits define Faith and make this book uniquely hers.The introspective moments let readers find a common bond with Faith instead of merely admiring her for heroics. Readers are privy to her thoughts, so if her hobbies and persona aren’t relatable, her inner experiences will be.

For instance, when you were a child, did you believe that adults in charge had all the answers? That when you became an adult, you’d be the same? Then you actually grew up and discovered people are feeling their way as they go. Calm and confident on the outside, uncertain on the inside. That describes Faith. Whether giving a pep talk, pleading her case, or just bantering quips, she appears to be a hero with it all together, but her inner voice reveals that she’s unsure of herself. The readers’ knowledge of this makes Faith relatable and real. Her hobbies and her body type make her approachable, but it’s the realistic portrayal of a young adult that sings truth.

There’s a theme at work here as well: facades. Faith hides her true identity behind that of an alter-ego. The Vine plantings hide their true selves. Torque’s physique is a façade. Even the locale emphasizes this point: Hollywood, where nothing is as it seems. It’s a fitting structure for a story about a young woman on a path of discovery.

Artists Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage each contribute to the story. Portela illustrates the majority of the book while Sauvage depicts Faith’s daydreams and memories. Portela does a fine job depicting the fighting scenes, with the characters’ expressions relaying the rapidly changing emotions they experience during the adrenaline-fueled moments. The visual perspectives of illustrating someone in flight or hovering not at eye level can be a challenge, but Portela manages this handily.

Sauvage’s fantasy panels beautifully interpret Faith’s daydreams. Her work has a sense of whimsy, perfectly befitting Faith’s inner eye. Particularly notably are the sequences of Faith as a child. Her depiction, as well as the subject matter, is touching.

Colorist Andrew Dalhouse, along with Pete Pantazis, use a natural color scheme for the story. Whether the scene calls for the dimness of a basement or the light of the moon, the colors are adjusted accordingly while maintaining a natural look.  The backgrounds and the colors for the alien panels are unique to themselves and add to the air of foreignness.

While this may be the final book in the miniseries, effectively closing out this particular adventure, it’s also a book about beginnings. Faith’s personal and professional relationships are changing, and this story sows the seeds for what may come in the future. The future, in case you haven’t heard, will let readers continue to “Fly Like Faith” with the new Faith ongoing series debuting this summer. At its heart, this is a feel-good story. Pick up Faith #4 and find out how Faith’s first major adventure resolves. Your spirits, like Faith herself, will soar.

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