As possibly the only person to discover comics in college (and I mean really in college, in a course on sequential art), they are still somehow a new, shiny genre to me and since I mostly skipped superhero narratives and went straight to graphic novels, I was particularly excited about Faith, a plus-size woman whose superhero persona is Zephyr. Representation of women in comics who are neither stick-thin nor all boobs? Gimme! And Faith Herbert is written and drawn wonderfully, an actual three-dimensional character I could relate to and even like instantly.
Quick background info for all who like me have not read the Harbinger comics and are thus new to Faith/Zephyr. Faith Herbert, a psionically gifted psiot, was orphaned young and then discovered by the Harbinger Foundation. Gifted with the ability of flight, Faith fought with her team in the Harbinger wars against a baddie called Harada. The first issue of Faith, written by Jody Houser and drawn by artists Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage, then picks up after she leaves the team, moves to LA and starts flying solo.
Reminiscent of Clark Kent, Faith has a normal alter ego of Summer Smith, complete with a dayjob, writing listicles for a BuzzFeed-like website. By night she is out looking to save the world, but ends up saving puppies. Even when she dreams of a greater superhero life, Faith remains an optimistic character and something I’m sure will delight many: Faith is a fangirl! The comic is rife with references to other comics, to Doctor Who, and we get to see her have late-night chats, discussing the newest episode of a favorite show. It’s no suprise then that Faith structures her new solo life around the superhero with dayjob and vigilanteism. A wonderful aspect of this comic is that so far not one character in the comic has mentioned Faith’s weight and body built. Faith is a flying superhero and we are treated to gorgeous images of her flying in typical superhero position, an image that joyfully reminds of and replaces the iconic Superman.
I also loved how many of Faith’s collegues at work were people of color. And I think other characters which are hinted at or introduced here might turn out to be more diverse than Faith’s ex-boyfriend who is hilariously drawn in Ken-style. Fingers crossed! It’s obvious that the first half of Volume 1 are introductory issues and I really enjoyed getting to know Faith. Here finally, we are treated to a character who is a plus-size woman and Houser as well as the artists demonstrate the humanity of Faith. Instead of serving as comic-relief or being treated with derision, we get to see her settle into her new life, and best of all her body is not used for plot or character motivation!
As long as the pace picks up in the next issues, I’m sure Faith will be a very popular comic indeed, I know I’m excited to see her in action. Finally a superhero comic that draws me in. Volume 1, Hollywood and Vine, will be released on July 26th and will contain issues 1-4.
Have you read comics with diverse characters? Let me know in the comments!
Source: I received Faith #1 and #2 as an egalley, thanks to NetGalley and Diamond Book Distributors. But I’ll remain my opinionated self!
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