FAITH #1 of 4 (Valiant Entertainment, March 2016) “Faith Begins, Part 1” Jody Houser, writer. Francis Portela, artist. Marguerite Sauvage, fantasy sequence art. Joe Quinones, re-cap art. Andrew Dalhousie, color art. Dave Sharpe, letterer.
Of all the current Valiant Universe characters, Faith Herbert a.k.a. Zephyr is one of the most beloved. It’s time for her to have her own book, and with any luck this four-issue limited series is just the beginning.
What makes her so likable is her ultra positive mental attitude and her approach to everyday life, loving and savoring every minute. She’s not another cut-out from the cookie cutter mold of heroine, physically and mentally endowed and brimming with confidence. She’s a full figure woman, a true heavyweight who’s not ashamed of her physical appearance. She’s still relatively new to the game, still learning and often uncomfortable with her abilities. Orphaned at an early age, she was raised by her grandmother and found comfort in a steady diet of comics, science fiction and fantasy. She’s a bonafide geek and wears that badge proudly, often dropping references to her favorites works and characters.
She’s one of the original Valiant Universe characters, created in the 1980’s by Jim Shooter. She stood apart from the rest of the crowd then, and she still does today. During Valiant’s rebirth in the 21st century, writer Joshua Dysart added more layers to her character, bringing additional depth and emotions. She possesses telekinetic abilities that give her the power of flight, as well as being able to mentally move objects or people. Her latent ‘psiot’ abilities were discovered early by the Harbinger Foundation and she mentored there until she realized the subversive nature of it’s founder, escaped, and became a member of The Renegades. When that group of high powered psiots broke up, she briefly joined Unity until realizing that she didn’t meet the requirements nor did she want to be part of their methodology. She also had a falling-out with Torque, her Renegade love interest.
FAITH the series finds her latest adventures being handled by a new creative team. It will be interesting to see how writer Jody Houser and artist Francis Portela handle the character. (Please don’t break her.) They wisely utilize first-person narration in the captions to bring us up to date on Faith’s new circumstances. It also allows her personality and beliefs to come to the surface.
FAITH finds Ms. Herbert striking out on her own, moving to a new city (Van Nuys, California) and setting up a new life. It’s no surprise to see her taking inspiration from one of her favorite characters and respectfully adopting (not pure imitation) some familiar tropes: working for a news organization (an entertainment blog site), and adopting a secret identity (Summer Smith) complete with wig and glasses. The supporting cast at the offices of Zipline are intriguing and could provide further engagement once we learn more about them in future issues.
Like anyone raised in isolation who finds solace in a dream world, Faith still mentally has moments of escape to her fantasies, allowing for more of her character to be revealed. Wisely, these fantasy moments are illustrated by a different artist (Marguerite Sauvage) whose whimsical style is perfectly suited for these interludes. Portela’s art style on the rest of the book is very fluid and appealing, especially in the action sequences and scenes of flight.
Issue #1 begins with action, and foreshadows the conflict awaiting Faith / Zephyr. In a brief, unexplained chase scene, two shaven-head, uniformed captives flee through a wooded area from menacing pursuers. Zephyr will quickly transition from apprehending small-time criminals to become immersed in the search for these two missing teens. Things develop quickly; and this one ends in a cliff-hanger.
FAITH #1 is our choice to pick up and try from the new releases for Wednesday, January 27.