There has come a new trend in the comic community, the so-called Social Justice Warriors have targeted our funny books. From the need to have more strong female characters to wanting to make the comic industry more diverse, these people clamor for change without even having a clue what it is they are trying to change. Change is good, change always helps keep something fresh and reinvigorated; just as the Doctor from Doctor Who. However, change for the sake of change is bad or change without understanding can be even worse.
Lately the target has been the need for what some call more realistic characters. Characters who can appeal to an overweight target audience. They are calling it, ‘Body Positive‘ Well for starters and believe me, I’m a 12 pack of soda a day man, I don’t need a comic book character who looks like me to help me feel better about myself. The back in the day stories of Spider-Man and his struggles as Peter Parker were enough to make me feel better about myself. Speaking of characters, one has been making the rounds in articles and news buzz lately; Faith Herbert better known as Zephyr from Valiant’s Harbinger series.
See, Faith is being celebrated but I don’t believe most people who are singing her accolades know exactly what kind of path she used to get to where she is today.
What has all the hype been surrounding Faith? Well Faith is getting her own mini- series in January of 2016 and is an overweight or excuse me… a plus size female. The thing is, Faith is nothing new. The original Valiant Harbinger series debuted in January of 1992. Created by writer Jim Shooter and artist David Lapham; the series Harbinger was Valiant’s answer to Marvel’s X-Men. Harbingers were basically mutants who each had a distinguished special ability. In Faith’s case she can fly.
When Faith was introduced in issue #1, she was the first recruited member of Peter Stanchek’s team of Harbinger Renegades. Faith is as mentioned already an over weight character but she is a stereotype. A heavy-set girl who reads comics, collects toys and has no friends. Nothing I would imagine ever wanting to bring to the spotlight. The code-name Zepplin (wasn’t always Zephyr) was giving to her by another teammate in lieu of her being overweight, so that as well wasn’t a name bestowed upon her for anything less of saying she’s a flying blimp. Faith goes on to be the bumbling buffoon of the group, living in her own fantasy world and not really seeing the world or the terrors which her team face for what they truly are. Faith was more the ass end of the tea’s jokes, making the character unto herself nothing more than a bad punchline.
Issue #13, which was given a Dark Knight Returns motif was a Faith focused issue. In this story, Faith compares her encounter with a bunch of bullies to a story she is reading in an Elf Quest comic. this leads Faith to her ass severely beaten and once she recovers she seeks revenge on the bullies but in a non-violent way by subduing them one by one in the air and dropping them in various parts of an alley to knock them out till the police arrive.
Faith was basically the unwanted member of the team. Not as beautiful or attractive as the other female members like Kris or Flamingo and she never took center stage in any plot driven stories with the exception of her one solo story. She was considered the heart of the team. the moral support. However, Kris, Peter’s girlfriend who had no Harbinger powers had more of an impacting effect on the series. Faith was like the kid you pick last for a team in gym class.
After Peter had his final confrontation with Toyo Harada in issue #25, Peter vanishes and Harada suffers a stroke placing him in a coma. Faith is shipped off to become a student in the Harbinger Foundation, a school for those gifted youngsters of the Valiant Universe. While having no memory of what had transpired in the previous 25 issues, Faith forms her own team of would-be misfits, a new form of Harbinger Renegades. The series quickly turned into Harry Potter meets the X-Men but once more even in an attempt to make Faith the lead character, she finds herself not accepted by even the misfits of the school.
However, in classic Valiant fashion there was a plan for Faith. As the years would roll on there would come a great war; The Harbinger Wars in which Toyo Harda, a man bent on making sure the Harbingers of Earth inherit the planet early from normal humans and Peter Stanchek’s feud would spread world-wide. The leader of the resistance in this future is revealed to be Faith. As the series Harbinger comes to an end at issue #41, the series is meant to serve as the over all origin for the would-be resistance leader. However as Valiant Comics came to an untimely end those plot points were never realized.
We flash forward to 2012 in which a newly recharged Valiant Comics now Valiant Entertainment relaunched Harbinger. The same over all plot but with a more unique modern-day spin of things. Now called Zephyr, Faith is written more mature. able to hold a job, have a social life, actively be open about boys and sex. The stereotype has been broken! Today Faith is fun, she’s sassy if anything the overweight heroine is indeed sexy! She deserves the praise she is receiving but unless you know her actual publication history one cannot fully appreciate just exactly what Faith represents and what obstacles that even a fictional character must overcome to make a positive mark in this genre otherwise cluttered with adolescent male sexual fantasies in boots with powers and tiaras.
FAITH #1 (of 4)
Written by JODY HOUSER
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA and MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | LIMITED SERIES | COMING IN JANUARY!