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Faith #6

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By Jody Houser, Meghan Hetrick, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse

In a world where might often overpowers diplomacy, where firepower isn’t just a figure of speech, it’s refreshing to read about a hero who disarms opponents without resorting to power plays. Faith #6 reminds fans where Faith’s true power lies.

The “Dark Star” story isn’t the traditional arc. It began as one of a bevy of short stories in the previous Faith issue and concludes in this book. Despite its relative shortness, this has been an engaging story and one of the better Faith tales. Faith is shown more human than ever, with writer Jody Houser tapping into Faith’s disgust with the players in this drama, allowing genuine anger to show. Faith always looks on the bright side of life, which is part of her appeal, but she isn’t a Pollyanna. Expressing these frustrations makes her relatable and gives her more dimension. There is nothing wrong with having negative emotions – it’s how you handle them that matters. Faith’s internal struggles with this add realism to the narrative and her character.

Houser expands Faith’s stage. She pulls in elements of the larger Valiant universe, bringing in the unethical Project Rising Spirt and acknowledging the impact of the revelation of psiots on the world. Fans of the Valiant universe as a whole will appreciate the inclusion, which helps the Faith title seem less of an island. Fans will be left with questions as well concerning the origin of the mysterious entity and PRS’s involvement. If anything, this is foreshadowing for future conflict and possibly a disastrous new PRS weapon that piggybacks the entity’s parasitic ability. One thing seems certain. Faith has hit the “big time” now that she knows P.R.S. is in her playing field. Things are likely to get harder for our hero.

Houser plays a successful balancing act between the drama and the more effervescent aspects of the Faith title. She sprinkles in bits of humor in the environment, playing off current trends. It’s never forced, so it rings true. As do the dramatic parts. Even though readers “know” that it is unlikely something tragic will befall Faith, there is a sense to gravity to her situation. This doesn’t feel like a superfluous story.

Given the aggressive ending of the last issue, some readers may expect a fight as the ultimate conclusion to the story. The drama all points to the making of a battle which, to be fair, is often the case when psiots have a confrontation. But this is Faith. Her first reaction is never violence. She may use her powers to stop a violent action, but she herself is never the aggressor. Plus, this is not a clear-cut case of villainy. Zoe, the teenager behind the attacks, is herself a victim. She is not the source of the malevolence.

Houser resolves the conflict by reminding us what makes Faith a hero – her empathy and compassion. She doesn’t need the psiot powers to be a force for good. Given what transpires this issue, having Faith continue to attempt to reach Zoe proves that Faith is truly heroic, making the conclusion poignant. While the sun has set on this story, there isn’t a sense of closure. It feels like something darker is coming. Part of the reason for this is the mood set by Houser and the creative team of artist Meghan Hetrick and colorist Andrew Dalhouse. Dalhouse’s subdued colors and the general pensiveness of the ending make readers feel as if they shouldn’t exhale.

Artists Hetrick and Marguerite Sauvage bring Faith’s story to life, with Hetrick handling the bulk of the story and Sauvage creating the flashbacks. The transitions flow smoothly, making it obvious that the story moves in and out of memories without disrupting the reader.

Hetrick does a fine job of storytelling, creating some memorable panels such as the final page of the story. Her close-up panels are among her best, conveying the most emotion. Their placement is done well, giving the story more of a cinematic scope as the “camera” zooms and pans. Even in the wider shots with less detail, there is never any doubt as to the intentions of the panel or the emotions of her actors. Readers should appreciate her approach to the depiction of the dark star power. The snaking tendrils and mass of energy is easy to understand even without the context of the story. The entity itself, hosted by the cat, amusingly takes on the gesticulation of a feline as it interacts with others.

Sauvage’s work is beautiful as always. Sauvage excels at depicting women in a manner that is highly attractive without being demeaning, enhancing femininity without salaciousness.

This is an attractive book with lighter tones and soft inking. Dalhouse’s colors are pastel-based, reflecting Faith’s general rosy outlook. In the past, the colors have been more vivid. This change is a subtle shift that may reflect the overall tone of a story in which Faith experiences some doubts and negativity. She’s a bit more jaded, and some of her disappointment is showing through the coloring.

Faith #6 is not a typical superhero story, but it is one that will resonate with fans, especially those weary of punch-outs and testosterone rage. The story is true to Faith’s character and seems to be a stepping stone to a greater challenge.

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