Jody Houser (@Jody_Houser) – Writer
Francis Portela – Artist
Marguerite Sauvage – Fantasy Sequence Art
Andrew Dalhouse – Color Art
Dave Sharpe – Letterer
Review by Joey Braccino
“Put. The Puppy. Down.”
Spinning out of the pages of Harbinger, Faith #1 is the brand new solo-series headlined by Faith Herbert, aka Zephyr, from the creative team of Jody Houser, Francis Portela, and Andrew Dalhouse (with fantasy sequences by Marguerite Sauvage!)!!! Faith is a powerful “psiot” (“a human being born with incredibly abilities”) with the telekinetic abilities to fly and project a force field. Previously a member of the superteam The Renegades, Faith is breaking out on her own and modeling her new solo adventures after the superhero comics and science fiction she adored when she was younger.
If that sounds like a lot of background, I gathered it all from the concise and effective (and brilliantly illustrated by Joe Quinones) recap page that opens Faith #1. And yes, I said “page” singular. Everything you need to know about our titular heroine is laid bare immediately in a few sentences, and the dynamic shot of Faith as Zephyr flying through the sky set the tone perfectly. Yes, this is a spin-off series and yes, Faith does have a certain position in the cultural zeitgeist already as a headlining plus-size heroine, but what Jody Houser and Company are able to do with Faith #1 is deliver a legitimately engaging, exciting, and accessible debut issue free from excessive exposition or complex continuity.
Look; I’ve read one Valiant comic before, so I am not all too familiar with the universe or the characters. Despite being completely unversed in the world and the context, I absolutely loved Faith #1. The recap page caught me up on the barebones powerset and background and the opening sequence—a jarring, brutal chase sequence that seems out of place given the tenor of our eponymous hero—hooked me immediately. That strange, intense chase is juxtaposed with our introduction to Faith, a bright and energetic young woman who has just moved to Los Angeles. Faith is trying to establish her secret identity and stop crime. Obviously, those two sequence intersect by issue’s end as an increasingly weird, sketchy storyline quickly unravels before we’re left with a shocking cliffhanger.
Jody Houser (Womanthology, Orphan Black) moves our first issue along at a tight clip, introducing us to all the different facets of Faith’s personality and life. Faith #1 demonstrates Houser’s ability to shift seamlessly from Faith’s interactions with her coworkers at Zipline (a celebrity/fandom blog) to her nerdy (flirty?) Skype session with her friend Archer to her more standard superhero fare as Zephyr, and the balance of humor and action is on-point. The violent, brutal bookends are particularly intriguing as well given the fact that the protagonist’s narration rides a wave of sincerity and genuine wonder that is often forgotten in superhero books today. Faith #1 is an expertly crafted introduction to a nuanced, engaging new story.
Francis Portela’s artwork is very reminiscent of the straight realism of an Alan Davis or Luke Ross. In some ways, the naturalism fits the “everyday” feel of Faith’s attempts at ordinary life, but some of the panels feel a bit too flat and plain, especially in dialogue-heavy sequences. The choreography in particular is off-putting at points, resulting in some strange camera angles that result in strange profile shots or up-angles of the characters. Thankfully, Andrew Dalhouse uses a bright, light color palette that produces a sense of vigor (those flying sequences are especially impressive). Still, I think part of the problem is the choice to put Portela’s artwork next to the much flashier, much more animated images and layouts of Marguerite Sauvage for the “fantasy sequences.” I wonder what the effect would be if the entire book were illustrated by Sauvage, which I don’t think is the intended result of having the two artists on the book…
BUY. Faith “Zephyr” Herbert is a dynamic, engaging new superheroine from a blossoming Valiant Comics, and the story introduced in Faith #1 delivers one hell of a debut issue from cover to cover! A few qualms with the visuals aside, the humor and energy on every page of this book makes me want to seek out more! Check it!
**Faith #1 hits the stands this Wednesday, January 27th!!!**