Writer: Louise Simonson, Jody Houser
Artist: Jody Houser, Rafer Roberts, Louise Simonson
Getting a new character to work in comics is nearly impossible. The harder a company tries to push a character the more comic fans often reject their efforts. Faith is not necessarily a brand new character. She has been about of the Valiant universe since the Harbinger series launched in 2012. However, the creators at Valiant saw she had the potential to become a breakout hit and they were right. Last year she got her first solo title and both fan and critic response has been overwhelming positive.
Now Volume 3 has been released and her growth as a character continues. This volume contains two main stories along with some side tales that include an appearance from Hilary Clinton. A notable achievement for a Valiant and for those worried about a forced in political agenda you are perfectly safe. That story is handle with care and stays away from most politically charged material. Some may complain it is nothing more than a cheap move to gain media attention—and that may have been the case. Personally I feel when you have a character like Faith her meeting up with one of the most well-known women in the world makes a lot of sense.
Worst case scenario you can avoid that story altogether and still have a lot of great content. The strength of this volume comes with the first arc that sees Faith tracking down a missing child star Zoe Hines who is going through rough times. Not only did inappropriate photos of her get released online, but she has also gained super powers and gone a little crazy with them. What is discovered is that a parasite like Psiot has taken over her body and is using her lingering anger for this advantage.
At first this sets itself up to be Faith’s version of the Proteus storyline where a mutant’s powers require him to move to body to body in order to stay alive. While there are similarities with the characters the story plays out is much different. Here Darkstar, his given codemane, is used to demonstrate the way we as a culture often place blame on those that are actually the victim. Whether someone’s phone is hacked or in this case their entire body focus should be put on the person committing the crimes.
This arc also always us to see Faith continue to grow as a character. The self-doubt that would at times hold her back is slowly dissipating. When forced to confront a dangerous situation without powers she doesn’t blink. Understanding the stakes of the situation she relies on her cleverness as well as her empathy to solve tense situations. What I also love about Faith and this book in general is how it approaches questions comic book fans often ask but are typically ignored. During the second arc Faith has returned to her former superhero team The Renegades and we actually get to see how this new responsibility impacts her solo adventures. How being a part of a team actually takes time away from her regular duties. It’s a small touch but adds more complexity to an already layered character. Faith has quickly grown into one of the best characters in comics period.
The majority of the artwork in this volume is done by Meghan Hetrick and her style fits the book perfectly. It has elements of shell shading without feeling artificial. Typically it is a style I am not too keen on but it fits the tone of the book well. She finds some inventive ways to use her panel layout. Character will at times be partially outside of panels or within multiple ones to convey connection or to bring you eye in to what would otherwise be a mundane conversation. This keeps the pace of the book constantly on the move, and when action does occur it is fluid and easy to follow.
For brand new readers this may not be the best jumping on point. There are small story beats that tie in the character’s past that are best enjoyed reading previous volume. With that said if you were to jump in blind you would have no trouble following the major story beats. Mostly the growth of the character has been so strong since her solo debut you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not pick up the previous issues.
A lot has been said and written about regarding how well females are representing in comics. Faith has quickly become one of the best examples. First and foremost she is simply a great character that is easy to relate to with her love of geek fandom, her sense of humor has just the right amount of sarcasm without being annoying, and she faces challenges that are completely unique for her character. I have a strong feeling we are just at the beginning stages of what will be a great new character for a new generation.