Valiant's Faith might be the publisher's most optimistic current title. Which is odd since it seems to fundamentally be about the clash of expectation and reality, a premise which could serve as fertile ground for really nihilistic character development. Other Valiant books coat themselves in blood and gore, but Faith's adventures are more innocent in presentation. For now, at least. Faith Herbert is kind of... simple. Not stupid by any stretch. She's selectively naïve. Her moral compass won't let her assume the worst about people, but she's also not a doormat. She views her world in uncomplicated ways, often comparing people and events to elements of popular fiction in an attempt to better contextualize them. She has a standard by which she measures her successes and failures. It may be, by its very nature, an unrealistic standard. But believing in an ideal pushes Faith to better herself. Her fantasies (attractively and expressively drawn by Marguerite Sauvage) are of how things are supposed to happen and of conveniences that should logically follow if she does what a hero typically does.
In all facets of her life she's struggling to gain a foothold as an individual. Much of her interaction with life is dictated by what she's seen in the media culture. Jody Houser’s dialog illustrates this well. At one point, Faith connects a boy's disappearance to his sci-fi fandom. Faith is much more pissed that one's love of fiction could be used to target them than she is that a kid is missing. Again, she’s written as simple and moral rather than stupid and gullible.
Faith's secret identity (don't tell anyone) is of bespectacled blogger Summer Smith, because she can't get a job as a reporter. Note the classic alliteration. On top of that identity, she's trying to get her solo hero career off the ground. But she doesn't appear to have a ton of confidence in her ability to work alone. Faith's got support in the form of a doting hacker friend. But she's falling back on her crappy ex-boyfriend, hoping to knit a familiar safety net for herself. She's on her own, ultimately. As the hero Zephyr, she's looked upon with awe. And she'll have to gain strength from the adoration and appreciation she gets from the people she saves.
Issue two of Faith kind of leaves me waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. It is still early in its run, so there's plenty of time for the tone to turn sour. This issue’s events put the major facets of Faith’s life in peril all at once. Perhaps for the first time she’ll be faced with an impossible choice with no simple way out. Our hopeful, cheerful protagonist will surely endure many trials that will run contrary to her world view. I'm hoping we see her triumph and maintain her outlook, while still growing into a worldlier and thick-skinned hero.
Faith #2 Writer: Jody Houser Artist: Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/24/2016 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital