In this first issue of her solo miniseries, Faith Herbert tries to get back into the superhero scene after breaking up with her boyfriend and superhero family. Is it good?
Faith #1 (Valiant Entertainment)
Faith Herbert has left the Harbingers, her superhero team which includes her now ex-boyfriend, and has started a new life in LA. By day, she’s a sci-fi and fantasy geek, working as a listicle writer for a Buzzfeed-type website, but by night, she’s Zephyr, a flying telepath (sort of), helping rescue puppies and longing for something larger. Lucky for her, a major villain from her past is stirring up trouble in her backyard.
Is It Good?
I’ll admit it: I was primarily interested in this book because it features a plus size lady superhero. So I came into this book with a bit of hesitation; was this going to be a gimmick or a story worth sustaining?
I am very happy to report that Faith is definitely not a gimmick.
I am in love with this character, and I have a feeling I will not be alone in this. Faith is incredibly relatable because she’s a geek, just like her readers. She collects comics, she loves sci-fi and fantasy TV, and she has daydreams about rescuing Chris Evans, just like we all do. But one of my favorite features is that she’s optimistic and upbeat, despite coming out of a tricky breakup and starting her life over from scratch. She isn’t brooding about her past and her fate; she delights in her powers and uses them to make lives better; her expression as she soars above the 405 is exactly how I would feel if I could fly.
I also appreciate that her non-hero life is so normal. Frankly, I’d love a job writing listicles about our favorite Chris’s in superhero pop culture. Relaxing on the couch eating takeout and Skyping with a buddy about my favorite shows sounds like a perfect evening.
Now, since it was a big part of the hype for this book, let’s address Faith’s body. Or more specifically, how the book doesn’t address it directly and how that is fantastic. No character in the book talks about her body, she never looks in the mirror and sighs how she wishes she was smaller. In fact, it’s the art that does the talking. Francis Portela shows her curled up on the couch eating, kicking bad guys through a wall, even an outline of her showering; he’s drawn her exactly like you would draw any other character. Nothing’s hidden, or cropped to only show her from the neck up. In fact, her costume outlines her glorious curves as she twists and soars through the air. Her size doesn’t have to be remarked upon because it’s who she is. It’s marvelous.
This book also gets bonus points for being diverse in the same way Faith’s body is drawn; it just is. There are black and Latino characters just being themselves, and their race is never part of the story. They are part of a great ensemble of characters that give the book some real world depth. The workplace scenes are really funny and do a great job of filling in some backstory in a natural and smooth way.
I’m new to the world of Harbinger, so diving into the world of Faith Herbert required a small bit of googling as I read. However, Jody Houser does a great job of walking the tricky line of in filling in the necessary backstory without making the entire book an exposition party. There are a few places there are a tad clunky, but overall I felt like I had a good grasp on the world without also feeling like I’d just read a Wikipedia page.
Portela’s art and Houser’s writing are a fantastic fit—the realistic tone with the touches of exaggeration that you want in this kind of comic. I especially like Portela’s people; each one has a unique body and great facial expressions. But it’s Marguerite Sauvage’s fantasy sequences that really make the book. Not only are they adorable and hilarious, but they add depth to Faith’s character. I hope we get these in every issue. And I can’t leave out Andrew Dalhouse’s lovely colors, which enhance the lightness of the art.
All in all, this book made me happy in so many ways. There are couple of clunky moments that are mostly due to this being a first issue of a new series, but not enough to detract from the book’s overall delightfulness. We’ve got a solid set up to a good story, with a fun and unique heroine, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.