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Volumes with Vanri: Faith, Vol 1

Written by: Jody Houser51bsrdz8b5l-_sy344_bo1204203200_
Art by: Francis Portella, Marguerite Sauvage
Published by: Valiant

While I’ve never read a comic before in my life, I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies. I know, I know, they’re not the same. I just want to get my point across. I grew up with the film, television and cartoon adaptations of Marvel and DC superheroes. From X-men to Batman to The Avengers, I’m acquainted with a few heroes. That being said, after reading Faith: Hollywood & Vine, my new favorite superhero is Zephyr, the lovable and relatable Faith Herbert.

Faith, who goes by the alias Summer Smith, is a nerdy, awkward and overweight woman who not only saves the world but also dates buff, attractive guys (it’s not impossible, ladies!). As a nerdy, awkward and overweight woman, I identify with her more than any other hero I can think of. She’s just like me, but is comfortable with and proud of who she is, which is something a lot of women and girls struggle with. She’s goals, basically.

Faith: Hollywood & Vine contains the first four issues of Faith Herbert’s stand-alone mini-series. From my research, I found that Faith’s character first appears in Harbinger #1, where she joins The Renegades to fight for good after she learns she’s a psiot (think mutants from X-Men). In her stand-alone series, however, Faith has left the Harbinger Foundation to attempt to fight crime in Los Angeles on her own.

In the first four issues, we see Faith attempt to hide her real identity as she keeps a day job at an entertainment blog called Zipline, come across a new alien enemy called the Vine, and basically just be a badass body-positive role model.

As this is the first comic I’ve ever read, I have nothing to compare it to. The artwork is fantastic. Faith’s boss is creepily intense when talking to her employees about their stories and deadlines, which is apparent on her face. Faith herself even changes slightly in appearance depending on whether we’re seeing her in her everyday life or in her fantasies (of which she has a lot!). It’s an amazing detail, as I think we all attempt to make ourselves more attractive in our fantasies, while still being us.

The story itself was a great introduction to Faith as a stand-alone hero. It’s a great time in her superhero career to break off as she knows enough to actually be able to fight crime, but is also naïve enough that she fumbles and makes mistakes. She may be a superhero, but she’s a human being who must learn and grow in her profession, just like the rest of us, and we as readers get to learn and grow with her.

If you haven’t read Faith: Hollywood & Vine, I recommend you do so. Not only is Faith funny and relatable, but she’s just the person women and girls across the world need in order to feel like they can do and be anything. I’m glad Faith was my first comic book and she certainly won’t be my last.

Volumes with Vanri is a new spotlight by Vanri the Rogue, who is brand new to the world of comics. All comics featured in this spotlight can be found in various comic stores as well as on ComiXology.

JD Reviews: Faith #1

Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Francis Portella, Marguerite Sauvage
Published by: Valiant

Reviewed by: Johnny Destructo

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For those who aren’t aware, great superhero books aren’t published exclusively by Marvel and DC comics. There are a bevy of excellent options out there, just waiting for you to take a chance on them. Invincible, by The Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman comes to mind, as well as an excellent teen-hero book called Harbinger. It’s from the pages of the latter that a charming and enthusiastic hero soars to give us her first solo title: Faith.

First thing’s first. This is a super fun first issue put out by a company that has been putting out excellent superhero books for several years now, but has somehow flown under the radar. Faith is a infectiously excitable heroine who lost her parents at a young age and sought comfort in comics, sci-fi and other mainstays of geeky pop culture. She always wanted to be a superhero, and finally got her chance when she discovered that she was a Psiot (think Mutants from X-men).

She had a good run with The Renegades, the team of heroes from the Harbinger comic, but decided it was in her best interests to split from the team and go off on her own from the hubbub of L.A. She lives on her own and has a job blogging for an entertainment site. This issue is mostly set-up, getting to know our heroine and her new life on the West Coast, introducing us to her first solo villains, and then…a cliff-hanger ending. On it’s basest level, this is a hell of a fun start to a series that I plan on keeping up with. But let’s also talk about another level that this book works on…

When looking for change in a system, whether it be inclusion of different races, or genders, I often wonder, “is it better to ignore the issue, since it shouldn’t really have any bearing, or is it important to the conversation to acknowledge such things?” I was partially of the mind to do this review without ever mentioning the physicality of the main character, but I’m afraid that would do a disservice to what I think is a very important issue here: Faith is fat. The comic doesn’t mention it even once, but the reason I’m bringing it up here is that it seems like an important milestone in making comics more relatable for everyone. More people than ever before in the history of the medium can pick up a book and get an enjoyable experience that speaks to them. There have been so many conversations in my shop about how most women in comics have big chests, tiny wastes and can twist their bodies in physically impossible positions to show off all their assets. “But where are the women who look like real women?” You could go to Strangers in Paradise, Rachel Rising (both by Terry Moore) but those aren’t superhero books, and you could check out a story in Invincible where his GF Atom Eve gained a bunch of weight due to stress issues, but this is the first time that a woman of a heavier weight is the star of her own series, and that’s pretty f#$%ing important.

If you’re looking for excellent super-heroics looked at through a slightly different lens, check out FAITH. Make the leap.

JD can be found running his own comic shop in Manayunk, PA called Johnny Destructo’s HERO COMPLEX, hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, and graphically designing/illustrating/inking and Booking his Face off at www.facebook.com/jaydotdeedot. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo.