By Jody Houser, Joe Eisma, Andrew Dalhouse, Marguerite Sauvage
Faith #7 kicks off a new story arc that finds our hero confronting a new enemy – but is it all in her head? Writer Jody Houser offers readers a different viewpoint on Faith – one that illuminates her fears and her emotional vulnerabilities.
What makes someone a hero? Actions and intentions. Morality. Justice. Responsibility. Empathy, and perhaps even regret. Faith Herbert embodies these traits. Ever since activating her psiot abilities, Faith has eagerly served the public good. Even before those powers manifested, Faith believed in justice and the power of good. That belief system is what grounds her, keeping her from falling victim to hubris or a god complex – an issue that other psiots struggle with. Despite her powers, Faith doesn’t see herself above the law or the laws of man. Her optimistic attitude and genuine concern for others has won her the hearts of many fans. While she takes joy in helping others, the flip side to this is the disappointment and regret of failure. Regrets easily manifest into guilt. We often bury these feelings deep, hoping to forget or atone with future actions. But what if your guilt confronted you?
Spoiler alert: it will shake you to your core.
Much of this story is dedicated to guilt manifested. Faith is being haunted by those whose deaths she feels responsible for as well as by her insecurity and fears of not living up to expectations. But these are more than feelings dragging her down – these are actual visions invading her dreams and her waking life. The manifestations are only visible to Faith, even in the presence of others. Increasingly critical and accusatory, they undermine Faith so deeply that she begins to question her own sanity – and it benches her superhero game. At this point, neither Faith nor the reader knows if this is self-induced or the work of outside forces. Regardless, the incidents prove the old adage that we are our own worst enemy. Faith’s convictions and morality, although good, are being used against her. Ultimately, Faith must confront her fears or be grounded permanently.
The tone of the story is somber, but Houser makes sure that Faith’s quirky point of view is still present. We’ve seen Faith in frightening situations and facing dangers before, but never have we seen her so vulnerable. It’s almost heartbreaking to watch her break down as her insecurities and fears send her foundering. While the instigator is likely another foe, the process mimics mental illness. This may elicit some discussion, but a title that already flies in the face of sizeism and preconceived notions seems like a good place to respectfully address the topic. I have no doubt that if she chose to pursue the theme, Houser would do so conscionably.
This book also confirms that Faith is back with her Renegade team, giving readers a time frame reference. Valiant fans will appreciate the clarification of continuity.
Artist Joe Eisma and colorist Andrew Dalhouse team up to create the majority of the story, with fantasy sequences depicted by Marguerite Sauvage.
This is Eisma’s first time out in the Faith title. Fans will recognize his signature look from other Valiant covers and the 1%. Eisma’s work is attractive, with clean, angular lines and emotive expressions. He does a terrific job of depicting Faith’s body type realistically without exaggeration. Eisma’s Faith is youthful and pretty, enhanced by Dalhouse’s glowing colors. His characterizations are spot-on as well – her expressions in the mirror as she tries on various costumes is “so Faith”. Eisma obviously knows how to create appealing characters, but he’s got creepy down pat as well. The horrors that confront Faith, particularly her clone, are truly horrors. This is a good looking story, undoubtedly aided by the work of colorist Dalhouse. His light and bright work, consistent throughout the Faith title, has created continuity and helped define the title’s look. The always-excellent Marguerite Sauvage continues her run of creating Faith’s idealized fantasy world – or in the case of this particular book – a beautiful nightmare. Fans will love her interpretation of Charlene, aka Flamingo.
Faith #7 is a satisfying read introducing a new test for our heroine – one that reveals not so much a heart of darkness but a heart of regret. It also serves as a jumping-on point for new readers. Attractive art and excellent panel flow make this a book a visual treat as well.