After “Death of a Renegade” and “Armor Hunters”, young hero Faith Herbert strikes out on her own. Does she soar or fall to the ground? Let’s find out.
Written by Jody Houser
Illustrated by Francis Portela & Marguerite Sauvage
Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert – a psionically gifted “psiot” discovered by the Harbinger Foundation – has always aspired to greatness. But now this once ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she’s always known she can be – complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws into her harms way! Well, at least she thought it would… When she’s not typing up listicals about cat videos, Faith makes a secret transformation to patrol the night as the City of Angels’ own leading superhero – the sky-soaring Zephyr!
But flying solo is going to be tougher than Zephyr ever thought when she uncovers a deep-rooted alien conspiracy. Two-bit burglars and car thieves are one thing, but when the world needs a hero to stave off a full-blown extraterrestrial invasion, will Faith find herself in over her head…or ready for her biggest challenge yet?
NOTE: “Faith #1” will be released on January 27th.
In a book that had been crammed full of interesting and enjoyable characters, Faith Herbert was the very heart and soul of “Harbigner”. She just radiated an intelligent optimism and kind-heartedness that was positively infectious in a world that seemed systematically designed to break such things. And I’m happy to say, that this issue put my largest fear to rest: when a character is so synonymous with one author goes to another, I do worry there will be a loss in transition. Not here. Jody Houser writes a completely natural extension to Faith while adding her own spin to it. This feels like a proper next stage to our heroine’s life.
Like the character herself, this story is bright and fun without becoming saccharine. A great portion of the issue deals with establishing who Faith is and her current world. I do kind of like the line here about how journalism isn’t really a thing anymore and showing the kind of pressures in the life of a young 20’s person striking out, including a tense-as-hell boss, co-workers, exes and maybe-sorta-possibly future boyfriends. It feels very real and relatable and never hokey or the feeling “them youths like this, right?” And while the majority of this establishment is pulled off well by Houser, there are some slight clunks in the exposition (explaining who @X is and expositing about “Death of a Renegade” had a kind of “As You Know” vibe to it). But those are minor quibbles.
When we get to the actual superhero work, Houser keeps it simple: Potential psiots (essentially the mutants of the Valiant universe, which Faith very much is) are being kidnapped in Los Angeles and it’s up to Faith to find them. And it’s got the dynamic action, investigation and even some shadowy dudes in suits. It’s not the existential contemplation of Stanchek or the the wheels-within-wheels machinations of Harada. It doesn’t need to be. It’s breezy and fun, yet tense and with a bang of a To Be Continued.
And helping guide the fun are artists Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage with Andrew Dalhouse on colors. Portela and Dalhouse continue their partnership from “Ivar, Timewalker” by depicting the real world for Faith. It feels just as bright and fun as the writing, and you can’t help but smile with every one of the expressions that we see from the cast. In some cases, it feels like the coloring doesn’t pop out and be vibrant as much as it should (it’s not to such a degree as like Dalhouse’s work in “Teen Titans”) and Portela can occasionally get samey with facial shapes, but the positives of the art far outweigh the negatives.
Which brings us to Sauvage’s contributions to the work, a few pages where we see into our lovably nerdy protagonists imagination. The same great work that Sauvage has contributed to books like “Ninjak” (albeit nowhere near as depressing content here) and DC’s “Bombshells” series continues here. It’s very soft and lush while also being energetic. And like the imagination it’s supposed to depict, Sauvage fills her pages with creativity and references like “Batman” and “Doctor Who”. All in all, they are well-constructed pages from a rising star.Continued below
And now to address what I’m sure a majority of the reviews for this started with: the fact that Valiant launched a mini-series starring a plus-sized woman and how important that is and how it got more people to look at Valiant than my two years banging on about their quality. Really, why I’m just now talking about it is because Houser handles it in the best way possible: making it really a non-issue. Hell, with just those few sentences I’ve brought it up more than the book. In the twenty pages here, there’s never a fat joke made at Faith’s expense, nor is there ever the temptation to get on a soapbox and talk about the crappy double standards of body image that we have or to just be really condescending to the audience, unlike other books (*cough*”Thor #5”*cough*). Houser just tells the story of a young woman with her own goals, fantasies, strengths, weaknesses and personality. She writes a character. Deal with it.
At the end of the day, the biggest strength of “Faith #1” is that the team kept it simple. It’s the tale of a young woman trying to find her way in the world, but doing it with a smile and optimism. Also with punching puppy thieves.
Final Verdict: 8.3- Faith moves on to the next step of her life in very good hands.