January’s end has come and gone which means that the first issue of Faith has finally come out! And, spectacularly, I remembered to go out and buy it before the next one came out (memory problems, pshaw)! I’m not going to lie, my hopes for this inaugural issue were pretty high: nice art, good characterization of Faith herself, and pop culture references that didn’t make me cringe with secondhand embarrassment. After reading, I found that all said hopes had been marked off with a nice little check mark, and the comic was even so good as to introduce several plot threads I’m genuinely interested in. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at see what Valiant whets our appetites with.
Previously in Faith #0, Faith and boyfriend John Torkleson were trying to balance the death of one of their friends, stopping an alien swarm from invading Mexico City, the paparazzi, and their relationship with… varying results. While John seemed fine with chilling on the whole hero thing for a bit, Faith was more determined than ever to continue helping people in any way she could. While she still cared for John, she realized the only way they both had any chance of being happy was if she left him.
Minus one boyfriend, Faith has now set up shop in Los Angeles, still trying to do the superhero thing to the best of her ability. Taking on a day job as Summer Smith, Buzzfeed-proxy clickbait journalist extraordinaire, she hoped to get some inside info on various shady things happening around town. Even though the whole journalism thing didn’t work out how she’d planned, she’s not letting it stop her. With police scanner notifications in hand, she trails where the cops lead her. This time, they lead her to a nefarious group of puppynappers, to which she delivers the best line of the issue:
Okay, so maybe that’s not the crime of the century (not that it matters to Faith). Still, fellow Harbinger Ax has got her back. After Toyo Harada’s defeat, Ax had been working to clear the names off of Harada’s “kids with superpowers” registry. However, as of now five of them have gone missing without a trace, and for a master hacker to not be able to find anything, both he and Faith know that this has to go pretty deep. Checking out the last known location of one of them, Sam Bradshaw, Faith finds nothing suspect until she’s confronted by a man in a black suit (who looks to be affiliated with the government, or some secret agency). Before Faith can get a word out of him, he causes an explosion, burning down Bradshaw’s house with both of them in it.
Faith #1 covered a lot of ground without making things seem overwhelming. While this is impressive, I’m more pleased with how Faith’s life is depicted as a whole. Despite having an alter-ego in Summer Smith, she still acts like herself, which means her relationships with her co-workers are genuine. I love that she considers the people she works with as family in the least romanticized way possible. They’re kind of a weird mishmash of people—the pop culture intern who hates pop culture, the “I think she’s being sarcastic, but I’m not sure” co-worker, and the guy who reads the comments on his articles and gets angry about them—but it’s great to see that even if Faith’s separated from her superhero families, she still has a stable support group. I also love Faith’s potential love interest: her internet friend Archer. Despite seeming kind of milquetoast (he was in like, two panels so I’ll give him a break) it’s already obvious that he’s already adorably flustered by Faith. As he should be.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by the pop culture references. Even now in the year 2016, when media tries to be self-aware, it can end up being really out of touch and sounding unnatural. It’s imperative for Faith, a fangirl of nerdy things above all else, to sound like she’s actually a fan and not a writer trying to convince readers that she’s a fan—also that she’s a younger person living in the 21st century with all the lingo that brings. Writer Jody Houser accomplishes this beautifully by peppering these things through the comic, rather than making them a selling point of the character. Faith uses text speak over texts and Twitter, and talks like any other twenty-something would. It’s natural. Of course, Houser also has her fun—one of my favorite parts of the issue was Faith writing a piece for work titled “10 more actors named Chris who should play superheroes on the big screen”.
Both Francis Portela’s and Marguerite Sauvage’s art create Faith’s world wonderfully, making it vibrant and fun. (Although I would love to have an entire issue in Sauvage’s style.) Considering everything, that’s what Faith should be—and if not fun, then at least vibrant. While I’m excited to see Faith get to the bottom of the mysterious disappearances while keeping her job and living her life, I do hope that in the future there are more characters of color who show up. A good portion of Faith’s coworkers are people of color, and so is Ax, but I’d love to see someone with more of a substantial role be non-white. If Bradshaw doesn’t end up tortured to death, we may have our opportunity right there. (Or possibly have her team up with Livewire again? If… she’s still alive.)
The wait for Faith #1 was definitely worth it, so if you were on the fence about buying it, here’s your sign to go out and do it. Take it from someone who doesn’t really consider herself a comics fan: believe the hype and get ready to #FlyLikeFaith.