By Marguerite Sauvage, Francis Portela, MJ Kim, Andrew Dalhouse
Charming and whimsical, Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special #1 serves to remind us of the power of imagination.
Giving a nod to both Alice in Wonderland and A Christmas Carol, this stand-alone Faith title encompasses the fantastical elements of Wonderland along with a dose of Dickens’ admonishments against greed. Toss in a dash of Peter Pan, and you have a recipe for a story that is pure Faith in its optimism and exuberance.
In the midst of the shopping hysteria of the holidays, the anti-consumerism message is relevant, as is its promotion of imagination and creativity. Faith is the perfect representative of keeping the inner child – and your dreams – fully alive. Faith’s daydreams were prominently featured in her ongoing title. It seems fitting that Marguerite Sauvage, the artist who brought Faith’s dreams to life on the page, is the writer for this story. She has captured Faith’s essence with this piece. Faith is a fangirl and lover of all things geek, but it’s her imagination and youthful optimism at her core that make her who she is. Sauvage captured that nicely.
While this story is a one-shot, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It ties directly into Faith’s childhood, giving the story validity and emotional heft. Fans will appreciate learning a tidbit of Faith’s background that wasn’t revealed before. These childhood flashback scenes were particularly charming. They give us insight into some of what may have shaped Faith, or in the least, encouraged her natural inclinations. It also was satisfying to see Faith’s other connections beyond her hero realm. With no living family, being witness to bonds made in childhood make this feel a little bit like coming home.
Visually, this book is a treat. Francis Portela and MJ Kim share artistic duties. Portela was the artist on the first Faith miniseries and helped to define her look. Here, Faith is ebullient and pretty. Portela captures the essence of Faith – her innocence and hopefulness, in her visage. Her body type treatment is done well, with no unnecessary exaggerations. Portela’s portion of the story encompasses the “real life” action.
Artist MJ Kim handles the fantasy elements of the story, specifically Wonderland. The imaginative world is both whimsical and, conversely, haunting. No spoilers here, but this stark contrast is a key element of the story itself, and Kim’s work here is outstanding. It meshes well with Portela’s style yet is different enough that it serves as a visual reminder of the shift in story.
Both artists tell the story clearly, making for inherently easy reading by guiding the eye naturally and unobtrusively. There are some exceptional panels, including two whose parallelism is striking both to the eye and in meaning. Colorist Andrew Dalhouse’s work is becoming synonymous with Faith. This story allows him to express both realism and the fantastical. His coloring is essential in the impact and understanding of the story’s message, particularly during scenes involving Faith confronting malevolent creatures.
Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special #1 is a bit of a paradox – a cautionary tale in whimsical wrappings. Its sentiment will pull on your heart-strings while the sensibility of the message serves as both a warning and reminder to never lose sight of what is within us. So, make like Peter Pan and Faith, and fly to pick up this Faith gem.