FAITH: DREAMSIDE

Written by Jody Houser

Art by MJ Kim

Colours by Jordie Bellaire

Letters by Dave Sharpe

THE DEAL: I have been a huge fan of the Valiant universe for some time now. I stumbled upon Harbinger a few years ago while trolling through old issues of indie comics, bored out of my mind. The cover grabbed me by the shirt and nearly pulled itself out of the drawer … and I’ve been thankful ever since.

So where does Faith fit into the Valiant mythology? Well, among musician circles, there’s a saying about progressive rock: prog is music made for musicians to enjoy. Faith is precisely that for comic book nerds: a sweet, relentlessly energetic comic nerd in her own right. In the height of her nerdery, she discovers that she is a psiot, the Valiant version of mutant. Like any other mutant-variant in comics, each person manifests their powers differently, and Faith’s geek-fantasy comes true: she can fly! Despite the danger, she quickly joins the Harbinger rebellion to find liberty for herself and her fellow psiots in a world of emerging superpowers and secretive technocrats.

A lot has changed for Faith – and for the world – since then, but she hasn’t lost that bottomless optimism, even while she searches for an innocent girl trapped in an ancient dream known as the Deadlands, Her naivete may be more dangerous here than it is in the waking world, however.

THE GOOD: I don’t know where Valiant finds their artists, but I’ve never been disappointed in an issue, and Dreamside is no exception. Dreamscapes can be some of the hardest work to portray, but MJ Kim nails it beautifully, complete with a magical winged dragon named Belu that dominates the page as artfully as it controls the Deadlands. Jordie Bellaire’s colours are equal parts vibrant and muted where necessary, which draws the eye from frame to frame with remarkable ease. Jody Houser’s story is also full of depth both explored and obscure, leaving room for the imagination to percolate while still delivering a solid story arc and a strong moral core that’s unmarred by Faith’s sugar-sweet personality. The titular character’s pop culture references are still on point as well, a constant reminder that the heroine is not much different than the rest of us comic fans (minus the freedom to ignore gravity, of course).

It’s good to see tradition and innovation merging in a comic. Valiant is consistently proving that the tried-and-true can still be remolded without losing its heart, and Faith is a prime example of how the old can be new again.

THE BAD: While I clearly have a soft spot in my heart for Faith, she is one of those characters that tends to grow without changing. Wolverine would be a good parallel: he develops, he learns, but he doesn’t really evolve, at least not in any notable way. He still loses his shit sometimes over the slightest provocation, and he can’t ever seem to get over his obsession with redheads. It’s not bad to read, but it can be boring for some readers. Faith has a similar challenge in that she never ever loses … ahem – conviction? There’s an element of the fool archetype in her, where her lack of concern for consequence seems to make her immune to it. It’s enjoyable as long as you don’t think too hard about it, but inevitably, I do find myself wondering if she’ll ever grow up.

Someday, I hope to see Faith the wise veteran, or Faith the concerned mother, or even just see some doubt take root in those ever-hopeful eyes. It’s good to have heros fall from time to time, if only so we can root for them to get back up.

4 stars out of 5

Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.

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