Faith: Dreamside #1
Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Jody Houser (Writer), MJ Kim (Artist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
This review is based off a review copy and contains spoilers.
I was a huge fan of Jody Houser’s original run on Faith. Here’s a picture of me hugging her, dressed as Summer Smith (Faith’s alter ego) shortly after the first issue was published.
Jody’s writing was such a huge turnaround from the previous treatments of Faith as comedically fat, the pathetic punchline of the Valiant superhero world. Jody never once mentioned Faith’s weight in her writing. Her storyline revolved around what she did and who she was, not her body image. And the original artwork by Frances Portela was a truly radical portrayal of a fat body (again, in contrast to the original artwork).
But then the artist changed in the second miniseries, and Valiant tried to leverage Faith’s mainstream appeal by throwing her back into the Valiant superhero universe in Harbinger: Renegade, and her own team book called Faith and the Future Force (as a Fantastic Four fan, I have to say I was a little disappointed in the use of Future Force as someone who read the Future Foundation/FF), and the Harbinger Wars redux. Guess who skipped all those titles? It’s me.
Now Faith is back in her own miniseries again, which means she’s going back on my pull list. And for readers (like me) who skipped the other appearances, Houser adeptly catches us up on what’s been going on with Faith. (Something something aliens something something wanted for murder?). Houser is Faith’s definitive voice, and coming back to Faith after time away is like coming back to spend time with an old friend.
In terms of art, Marguerite Sauvage is back doing beautiful covers, but Houser has been paired with yet another artist, MJ Kim. Kim gives us a lot of panels that focus on Faith’s upper body and face from a partial side or profile perspective, so she’s got some double chin action happening (which I appreciate), and in a scene reminiscent of Portela’s work in the first Faith mini, she’s got some chubby stomach happening while she’s chilling at home in a t-shirt. Disappointingly, Kim has a tendency to draw Faith’s whole body with an exaggerated hourglass figure (i.e., the ideal fat woman’s body), which had previously reserved for Sauvage’s daydream sequences. I had accepted the hourglass from Sauvage precisely because they are Faith’s daydreams, and who wouldn’t want to imagine their body in an idealized Sauvage style? One last note on the art: Jordie Bellaire is the colorist, and the colors in this book are amazing. In this issue, they’re bright and light and fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing her work as we enter the Dreamside, which I imagine to be a combination of both Inception and the Upside Down from Stranger Things. We’ll see if I’m right.
Overall, what I like about the premise of Dreamside is that the story centers around Faith helping someone else by entering their dreams. It’s a different type of superhero story, and that’s nice to see. It sounds creepy, and right up Houser’s alley by dipping slightly into the horror genre. It seems to be a departure for Valiant as well, and I hope the series succeeds for that reason. Unfortunately, I only found out about the Dreamside aspect by reading the series summary page, not actually in this first issue, which is a little frustrating from a serial narrative perspective. This issue ends with the concept of ghosts and introducing “the world’s premiere parapsychologist, Dr. Mirage,” (according to the Valiant miniseries page), who is a character I’ve never met before. But at the end of the day, Faith is back, and I’m going to keep reading.