With the trailer for the MCU’s newest entry, Civil War, on everyone’s minds, once again I find myself thinking about maybe, just maybe, reading some of the comics. While I know that this will never happen (there’s just too many!), things like this do put me in the mood to look over my comic options. My love-hate relationship with the Fables series is nothing new, but another company seems to be trying to vie for my attention.
I guess it should speak for my general lack of knowledge concerning comics that I was planning to review the series’ first issue for today, only to find out that said issue isn’t coming out until January. Maybe it should be seen as anticipation instead. No matter what it is, when I heard about the Faith series of comics a couple months ago, I started to wonder how the series was going to handle having a plus-sized heroine. Upon reading several interviews with the minds behind the scenes at Valiant Entertainment—and unfortunately not upon reading her one-shot, which I don’t have access to currently—I have a larger-than-cautious amount of hope that this won’t be a disaster.
If you’re anything like me, the name “Faith” brings very little to mind, and probably even less concerning the series she came from. Truthfully, I had never even heard of Valiant comics before looking into Faith, but here I find that our heroine-to-be is from a long-standing series called Harbinger. In Harbinger, a group of teens are brought together by fellow power-wielding teen, Toyo Harada. The powers of these Harbingers, however, are not inherently known, and they only show up only in times of stress. However, Toyo is different: Toyo willed his powers to manifest, and also has the ability to make powers manifest in other Harbingers. Toyo is also special in that he has the powers of an “omega Harbinger”, which basically means he has all the (psionic) powers. Using his powers to pull a Lex Luthor, Toyo feels that the world is heading towards self-destruction, so takes it upon himself to remold the world to his will—using the other Harbingers to do his dirty work. Faith (who has the power of flight) is one of these Harbingers, and is the one who starts up the resistance against Toyo which is eventually successful in ending his plans.
Reading through the summary of some of the earlier comics, I find myself disappointed. Perhaps it’s just the nature of summaries, but it seems to me that while Faith did do important things, most of the time she was used as a fat joke, once even reportedly felling an enemy by sitting on them. The members of the resistance didn’t really seem to respect her, or ignored her full figure in light of her being the only one who seemed to have her shit together. I guess I can’t expect too much from a comic that started in the 90’s, but reading fat jokes even in a time-capsule-like sense is still disgusting.
However, the mind behind Faith’s revamp, Jody Houser—you may recognize her from Orphan Black—seems determined to create an entirely new legacy for the psionic formally known as Zephyr. Taking part after Faith leaves her group of fellow Harbingers, she begins to accept working as a superhero on her own terms, even if that means working alone. Despite all the terrible things she’s been through as a person and as a superhero, it’s so important that Faith is still a positive person. Sure, she was almost killed numerous times, but Faith can still find the beauty in everyday life. In an interview with Mashable, Houser states, “[Faith] had a brief stint on a superhero team that had no qualms about killing people, and she walked out on them because she knew it wasn’t for her. And yet, she still remains optimistic about the world and her place in it. More than anything, it’s that positivity that really shines in her interactions with others.” I love drama and tragedy as much as the next fanfic writer, but there’s something different and important about a hero who is more concerned with positivity than the crushing negativity of man’s imperfect morality and inevitable death. Even more important is the ability for a hero to have been through so much and still remain hopeful about people and the future, which in this era we desperately need.
What I really love about Faith is that she’s like me and so many other girls who have never had positive representation in comics before. Faith is a fangirl and plus sized, and none of it is presented as bad. Talking with People, Houser goes on to explain, “[Her weight is] definitely not something that she has a problem with. She’s very comfortable with herself.” Which is fantastic for young girls and older women alike who read this and see themselves in Faith. We have enough media telling plus-sized people that they should dislike themselves for their size; we desperately need more media that, instead, tells plus-sized people, especially women, that they look fine and don’t need to change to fit anyone’s perceptions of beauty. What I love even more about this is that the variant covers to Faith are gorgeous, and Faith herself is gorgeous, which only strengthens the idea that you don’t have to look a certain way to be beautiful or powerful. Houser finishes by saying, “I wouldn’t call her a plus-size superhero, she’s a superhero who is plus-sized. And I know it’s a very fine line there, but I think it’s an important distinction.” And I believe that this is definitely a distinction that should be respected. Houser asserts that there will be no plans for a “very special episode” issue of Faith or any plotlines centered around Faith’s weight/body image. While these are important things to address, in this case I’m glad that Faith will be allowed to simply be without explaining herself.
While all of these points have me excited for Faith’s debut, on a more personal note I’m excited for the possible inclusion of something else: a romance for Faith. Back in her Harbinger days Faith did have a relationship with fellow resistance member John Torkelson (Torque), but left him because he was kind of a dick. While by no means am I saying that Faith should be focused on romance or have a subplot dedicated to it, it would be nice to see Faith get a romantic relationship that isn’t a joke or partly abusive. Romantic relationships concerning plus-sized women are readily ignored in media (except in Empire, which I was ecstatic to read about) and if they’re there, it’s rarely ever in a positive light or without the seemingly mandatory “I must diet so my SO stays in love with me” plot. Since Faith has already promised to stay five thousand feet away from events like the latter, it would be nice to see a positive girl in a positive romantic ship, with around a million positive friendships—it sounds like she deserves them after the bullshit she’s been through.
Faith #1 is set to release on January 27th. I know that I’ll be around to buy it, and if this kind of representation appeals to you, I strongly urge that you help support Houser and her vision to further empower Faith in her journey.