Like many customers excited by the concept of the title Faith, I love the idea of a large-sized fangirl getting her own comic. It’s a shame that the comic isn’t as exciting or enjoyable as I hoped, making love for it a matter of it existing at all, not what it brings to the page.
In a more diverse market, this wouldn’t be the only superhero book starring a plus-size woman, making for more options. Unfortunately, this is a typical Valiant book — mediocre in execution, typical in plot, standard in storytelling, with conventions that come directly from and are aimed at the old-school comic market audience.
There’s a superhero, a set of cliched supporting characters (who aren’t given enough space to be more), a scene or two to demonstrate her powers, an evil conspiracy to fight in future issues, and a cliffhanger to bring the reader back. That Faith is breaking out in sales (selling out at the distributor level before the book went on general sale) and promotion is a testament to just how hungry readers are for non-typical female leads.
(Or maybe a statement of how dependent sales figures are on variants — Faith #1 had six different covers, these five plus a blank, spurring multiple sales. Note that one of them only makes sense if you’re a comic collector instead of a comic reader, playing off of the CGC sealing-the-comic-in-a-plastic-coffin grading service.)
Don’t get me wrong — as written by Jody Houser with art by Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage (in different sequences), Faith is likable. She’s optimistic and cheerful and trying to go about her busy life, balancing a secret identity as Summer Smith, a day job as a reporter (in the modern sense, working for a hit-seeking website that lives off listicles), and heroing as Zephyr. Her superpower is simple but desirable: she can fly, which makes for inspiring visuals. She’s out on her own, having left a boyfriend and a super-team, which is also inspiring. I understand why people love her.
It’s just that what happens in this comic is so darn flat. It’s a poor choice for outreach to potential new readers, because this kind of read justifies the stereotype of comics as inferior to “real” books. I also found the references to previous comics and other elements of the Valiant universe distracting and unnecessary.
Perhaps my expectations are unfairly high. I rarely love a TV show after the first episode (lately, it takes at least four), so maybe I should it give it time. TV shows don’t cost $4 a pop, though, although they are facing a similar high number of other projects competing for customer attention. Certainly, new readers won’t have the “I’ve seen this type of story a million times before” feeling that people familiar with the superhero genre get with Valiant books.
Note also that Faith is only a miniseries of four issues, not an ongoing. Let’s hope the publisher has enough commitment to the concept to change that. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.) Here’s a preview of the first issue. Faith #2 is due out February 24, with four covers.