In this multi-story special issue, Faith stumbles into a spreading mysterious illness, meets Hillary Clinton, and realizes that superheroes don’t get days off. Is it good?
Faith #5 (Election Special) (Valiant Entertainment)
The first and main story starts a new arc for Faith. A former child star whose show was cancelled after a cell phone hack that revealed some naughty pictures is approached by a talking cat while at an audition and then disappears. Faith is alerted to the disappearance, but is alarmed when she recognizes members of Project Rising Spirit, “your usual evil organization of power-hungry jerks” are also on the trail.
When Faith tracks her to a mall, things get complicated fast.
In the second story, Faith is frustrated by getting a real reporter story, covering Hillary Clinton’s LA speech, but she has to do it as Faith, not as her alter ego. She’s torn when in the middle of her coverage, a bad guy takes advantage of the police’s distraction by robbing a bank. Faith has to choose how to act and meditates on the importance of voting.
The third story is a quickie; Faith gets a call from @X after being out heroing for 18 hours. She takes the call and her frustration melts away when she discovers a young psiot is being abused.
Is It Good?
Let’s take the main story first. The Faith team has taken on various feminist issues in the series so far, and it’s obvious from The Wicked + The Divine #13 name drop that the nature of celebrity, specifically how female celebrities are treated, is on their minds. And they do an excellent job of making that part of the story without it feeling like an issue-driven story.
However, Zoe going from zero to sixty on evil felt rushed and I think it’s because they had a page limit due to the special issue. A bit more time with her realizing the actions she took would have helped smooth out the story.
This issue also introduced a new artist on the series, Meghan Hetrick, though it’s unclear whether she will be the main artist going forward or if she took over to let Pere Perez do the special Hillary story. I liked her style overall, but a couple of nitpicks. I’m personally not a fan of the thick lines she uses:
I find that they distract from the action as a whole, and they stick out even more against the more pastel palette Dalhouse uses. But what bothered me more is that she’s drawn Faith with a slimmer silhouette and lesser curves. Perez and Sauvage draw Faith with generous curves all over, and this is especially obvious when Hetrick’s art is followed directly by Perez’s in the issue.
The second, the much advertised story, is the Hillary Clinton story. And it’s fine? It makes sense to put a story together with a female superhero that has broken a lot of barriers with the first major female presidential candidate, but it just doesn’t come together. I think this is for two reasons. One, it’s so short, so there isn’t time to do develop an interesting story. It’s also just an awkward story: the psiot that Faith fights doesn’t tie into the presidential bit, which seems like it would make more sense. And the entire time she’s flying around and fighting, there’s this thought dialogue that’s supposedly Faith ruminating on the nature of voting and why it’s important and meaningful, but again it’s completely disconnected from what’s happening in the story.
And finally, once Faith finally gets to meet Hillary, it just comes off so awkward and stilted. It’s very difficult to translate a real person’s voice into a comic book, especially when you have such little time to do it. And their interaction just doesn’t read as natural, especially when it tries to tie in to the election. And I say all of this as a Hillary supporter, so I’m open to liking this! But it just didn’t work for me, and sadly, the art didn’t help. While generally I enjoy Pere Perez’s work on Faith, his style of drawing people’s faces does not work when trying to capture a real person’s likeness. His Hillary is inconsistent and in some places makes her face look weirdly distorted.
The last story is the shortest of the bunch, and it does manage to tell a complete story in its six pages. And it’s not a bad story (I definitely enjoyed it more than the second), but it felt tacked on and didn’t add to the issue as a whole. I did enjoy Colleen Doran’s art, especially that her style is very different from the usual artists on the book.
While I think tackling an election special issue is tricky no matter the circumstance around it, if you are going to do it, then make it an actual election special. Have all the stories tie in somehow, not just one. I appreciate the concept of encouraging people to vote, but ultimately this felt like a pure concept piece rather than a fully fleshed story.