It’s fan-favorite Faith Herbert’s turn to lead a team in Valiant’s latest summer Event, and she’s bringing almost every character with her on a race through time. Read on for our Pick of the Week review, which contains minor spoilers
Written by Jody Houser
Illustrated by Stephen Segovia and Barry Kitson
Colored by Ulises Arreola
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
A SPECTACULAR SUMMER EVENT! This summer, every second counts when acclaimed writer Jody Houser (Mother Panic, Star Wars: Rogue One), explosive artist Stephen Segovia (NINJAK, Action Comics), comics legend Barry Kitson (Fantastic Four), and special surprise guests push Faith into a centuries-spanning fight for existence alongside the greatest heroes of the Valiant Universe…past, present, and future! Faith “Zephyr” Herbert – former member of Unity, current Harbinger Renegade, and Los Angeles’ #1 superhero – is the universe’s last, best chance at survival! Centuries from today, a devious artificial intelligence has unleashed a blistering attack on the very foundations of time…one that is unwriting history from beginning to end! Now, with her options exhausted, Neela Sethi, Timewalker – the self-appointed protector of what is and will be – has returned to the 21st century to recruit Earth’s greatest champions of today and tomorrow to oppose this existential threat…and she needs Faith to lead them! But why Faith? And why now? This July, fly to the farthest edges of the future in a death-defying race to save time itself, as Faith leads the charge alongside Valiant’s greatest heroes…and becomes a new legend for the ages!
The beauty of a character like Faith Herbert is that she’s one of us. She’s such a fan of all things sci-fi, fantasy and all round geekery, that when an opportunity to save all of reality comes knocking on her door she is able to just go with it. That’s a useful skill to have too, as the first issue of “Faith and the Future Force” has, ironically, no time to go into lengthy exposition.
Valiant’s latest summer event is here, and readers of previous efforts such as “4001 A.D.” and “The Valiant” know that these massive stories aren’t averse to hopping through time in order to tell as grand a story as possible. It’s rare, however, for an event to capture the adventurous sense of fun that writer Jody Houser has injected throughout “Faith and the Future Force” #1, and that’s mostly down to the main character. Faith Herbert always brings that spirit of fun along with her, as she’s an intrinsically optimistic character, and Houser – the regular writer for Faith’s ongoing series – has the ability to inject that energy into every story she’s in. More than that though: Faith creates and elevates that energy in other characters too.
The central concept of “Faith and the Future Force” #1 channels Doctor Who in more ways than one, and while that kind of emulation can be a tricky tightrope to walk (there’s always the risk of slipping from homage to parody,) the trick here is in its self awareness. If you’ve read Valiant’s previous time-hopping series “Ivar, Timewalker” you’ll know that those Doctor Who comparisons have plagued the characters as well as the series, and in a smart instance of self-awareness, Dr Neela Sethi acknowledges that comparison and cuts Faith – and the reader – off at the pass before anyone can possibly use it as a negative. It’s a fun moment here: as a fangirl, Faith – like most of us – has dreamed of the day a time-travelling adventurer would come seeking their help to save all of reality, so when that moment finally happens to her she’s ready to jump in with both feet.
Another advantage Valiant’s events have over their Big Two equivalents is the relatively minor amount of prior reading needed. Aside from a few lines here and there concerning Faith’s current circumstances, anyone can pick up this adventure and follow along without a misstep. Faith’s time-travelling recruiter Dr Sethi (“I’m A doctor, not THE doctor. He’s not real”) continues her adventures from the previously mentioned series “Ivar, Timewalker,” but again not much knowledge is needed beforehand. In fact, for all of Neela’s objections, the comparisons to Doctor Who work as a shorthand to help the reader jump on board as quickly as Faith herself. There’s a problem with the time stream (a problem that’s presented in a really clever way,) and Dr Sethi seeks out Faith, who in turn recruits her own team (the titular “Future Force”) to combat the advanced-yet-somehow-adorable A.I. that’s causing the trouble. This concept will be explored in greater detail in subsequent issues, but it’s an idea that will see characters pulled from every corner of the established Valiant Universe to assist Faith in her quest.Continued below
Houser is accompanied in this issue by two artists, each taking on a different timeline, a concept that will continue as the series progresses: as more timelines are introduced, more artists will join the book. It’s a fun idea, and one that allows for a rotating creative team to come onto the book in a natural way that serves the story. Neither Segovia or Kitson are strangers to traditional superhero comics, and that definitely works in the favor of a series like “Faith and the Future Force,” as Houser’s script is not only frenetic but high in concept. As the series progresses and there’s more time-hopping and divergent timelines we’ll no doubt see more outlandish concepts explored. A portion of this issue takes place in Faith’s ‘mild-mannered’ workplace, yet the pacing and the structure of the each page allows you to look past the mundane setting and be swept up in the excitement that Faith feels, and that’s partly due to the traditional superhero aesthetic and partly due to Houser’s injection of just the right amount of drama (Dr Sethi’s opening line is a specific throwback to the moment she was first recruited to this life.)
Despite there being two artists on “Faith and the Future Force” #1, there’s no jarring transition between the two. There’s enough of a style difference to notice when it happens, but due to the move from one timeline to another it suits the flow of the story to change at the moment it does. The art shines most when the characters make the jumps through time, and when they first meet the villain of the book the issue opens up to a two-page spread that highlights the elegantly simple design of this new character. Fitting the traditional superhero feel to the art is the coloring that’s suitably bright and engaging, and brings the book to life especially in the moments when the cast trip through the timestream.
“Faith and the Future Force” #1 goes beyond merely casting Zephyr in the starring role of a major summer event. For one, its concept promises to reach to every corner of the Valiant universe in a way that feels epic yet self contained. Secondly, despite being a book that anyone can pick up, fans of Faith will be rewarded with seeing her in situations that test her in ways we’ve not seen before. Moving forward she’ll be the leader of a team, a new responsibility for her, and facing off against a foe that is – as we see in this issue specifically – seemingly insurmountable. There’s an energetic sense of urgency to this series so far, and the fun spirit of adventure ensures that this debut issue kicks things off with a bang.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – A fast-paced and entertaining start to an epic time-hopping adventure.