Monday, February 29, 2016

You Should Read This: FAITH #1 & 2.

If there's a word I'd use to describe my comic-book shopping agenda on those weekends when my time is my own and I owe nothing to the world it'd have to be "random." A lot of comics fans like to establish weekly pull lists for their friendly local comic book store, or they subscribe to a certain title on Comixology or the like. They have plans, favored titles and creators that they follow with regularity and basically invest in their haul much the same way as a Netflix subscriber has their to-watch list. Me, I'm not like that. Frequently I'll have an idea of what titles I'd like to check in on, but for the most part I just wander among the new release shelves, letting my feet take me where they will. Some enjoy the thrill of the chase, I just like to wander into new places and see what's doing. So it is with my discovery of Valiant Comics FAITH by the team of Jody Houser, Francis Portella, and Maguerite Sauvage.

 Back in the halcyon days of the 1990s I was a huge fan of Valiant Comics. Initially luring me in with their enjoyable takes on classic Gold Key characters like Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Magnus: Robot Fighter (one of my All-Time Favorite Characters), the Valiant brand expanded to a number of unique creations such as Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, and Harbinger. Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons too involved to go into for the purposes of this article, Valiant in the '90s shut down and their stable of characters was consigned to the limbo of back issue bins for the better part of two decades. Recently the line made a comeback however, and with the aid of a number of talented creators the line has again become a force to be reckoned with. Books like RAI, ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, and THE ETERNAL WARRIOR are once again making their way back into my To-Read pile and I couldn't be happier.

 The eponymous lead of FAITH spins out of a title called HARBINGER, but you don't need to have read that book in order to enjoy this one. The elevator pitch is as follows:

 "When a car accident left her orphaned, Faith Herbert was raised by her loving grandmother and found comfort in comic books, science fiction movies, and other fantastic tales of superheroes. In her teens she would discover her fantasies were reality when it was revealed she was a psiot--a human being born with incredible abilities. Faith joined a group of fellow psiots called the Renegades to stand against the forces of evil. She's since left her Renegade family behind to take on the world's challenges on her own. She may have a lot to learn about the superhero game, but if there's one thing she's always had, it's. . .FAITH."

FAITH BEGINS opens with our heroine attempting to make a life for herself as a superheroine and reporter in California, but with the journalism game not being all it's cracked up to be she's settled for being an online content generator for an entertainment website by day and the superheroic Zephyr by night. Gradually though she's pulled into a greater mystery that may involve ties to the psiot community, and when things escalate, they escalate quickly for our heroine.

You ever meet a character in a fictional piece and it feels like you've known them forever? Faith Herbert is like that. She's got superhero memorobilia, statues, she makes pop culture references. One of the highest compliments I can give Jody Houser's writing is that the character feels like people I've known in my life in fandom. . .hell, people I still actively know. People like myself. An engaging protagonist who you come to care about and actively root for is a key to longevity in an increasingly expensive comics fandom, and the team succeeds in bringing her to life with aplomb. Francis Portella's artwork allows for a nice blend of the fantastic and the familiar, from high-flying superheroics to the office politics many of us know only too well. And a special shout-out has to go to Marguerite Sauvage, whose work on Faith's fantasy sequences give us a fun snapshot of our heroine's psyche.

 It's a rare treat to find a title that you grok to so quickly and easily as FAITH. Whether you're a longtime fan or a complete comics neophyte, titles like this are ones everyone can enjoy. The first and second issues are on the stands now and I give them my heartiest and highest recommendation possible. I haven't had this much fun with a character since THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL. Not feeling most of the superhero titles out there? Have some FAITH my friend.  You won't regret it.