EXCLUSIVE: Valiant Puts "Faith" in Houser & Portela's Hands in January

Since they relaunched in 2012, readers have seen some of Valiant Entertainment's best-loved characters hit the new century with a bang, with characters from Toyo Harada right through to Quantum & Woody given a sprucing up for a more contemporary audience. But through it all, there's only been one question on the mind of most fans:

"When is Zephyr getting her own comic?"

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Well there's good news for the Faith-ful today, with Valiant telling CBR exclusively that writer Jody Houser and artist Francis Portela -- along with special sequences illustrated by Marguerite Sauvage -- will be the creative team for a four-part miniseries featuring the superhero otherwise known as Faith Herbert. Starting in January, "Faith" will follow the young superhero as she takes a hint from her favorite comics and gets hired as a news reporter -- all the better for her to track down and fight crime at night!

Here's the official description of the series:

Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert -- a psionically gifted "psiot" discovered by the Harbinger Foundation -- has always aspired to greatness. But now this once ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she's always known she can be - complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws into her harms way! Well, at least she thought it would... When she's not typing up listicles about cat videos, Faith makes a secret transformation to patrol the night as the City of Angels' own leading superhero - the sky-soaring Zephyr!

But flying solo is going to be tougher than Zephyr ever thought when she uncovers a deep-rooted alien conspiracy. Two-bit burglars and car thieves are one thing, but when the world needs a hero to stave off a full-blown extraterrestrial invasion, will Faith find herself in over her head...or ready for her biggest challenge yet?

To find out more about Faith's plans for the Valiant Universe, CBR News has the exclusive first interview with Jody Houser about the upcoming miniseries.

CBR News: Faith, otherwise known as Zephyr, has been part of the revived Valiant Universe since almost the beginning. Since the end of "Harbinger," however, she's been trying to define herself and find a life of her own. After leaving Harada and washing out of Unity, where does she find herself as this miniseries begins?

Jody Houser: Since she first got her powers, Faith has never really been alone. First there was the Renegades, then her and Torque, and then Unity. This is her first time out on her own as a hero, and really as an adult living in a big city. It's a time of major changes for her, but Faith being Faith, she's more optimistic about the fresh start than anything else. Of course, optimism doesn't mean things are easy...

Is it intentional that the series be called "Faith" rather than "Zephyr"? Do you see the two as quite different identities?

I think the title is primarily following the lead of the #0 issue, but this is a really interesting question. To me, Faith using Zephyr as a codename is less about creating a whole new persona and more about forging a new path. She now has the chance to be one of the heroes she's spent her life admiring. Zephyr represents an opportunity more than an identity.

What do you think motivates her currently, as the story begins? What's her perspective on the world?

Faith is just starting to settle into the new life she's building for herself, although it's still very much a work in progress. To her, the world is full of possibility! It's just not going quite the way she planned as of yet.

What have you enjoyed most about getting to construct this new, classic superhero world and mythos; but for a more contemporary character like Faith?

Faith is an especially fun character for this sort of story because of how genre savvy she is. She didn't fall into the "classic costumed life" by accident. She made a deliberate attempt to model her life after the heroes she grew up with, not because that's just how it's done, but because she understands the benefit of having a normal life on the side. Wanting to do great things doesn't mean she wants to be in the spotlight 24/7.

Her interest in superheroes and fantasy has always been a strong part of who she is -- do you think she views herself as a hero?

Faith certainly has had no problem calling herself a superhero from the beginning. But I don't think she quite sees herself on the same level as her beloved comic heroes. Calling yourself a superhero is stating an intention; the real question is if you can live up to that declaration.

How difficult is it to translate classic elements of superheroes into a contemporary story like this? This is, I believe, only the second series after Quantum & Woody to actively feature 'superhero' leads within the Valiant Universe. How does she fit in?

It's actually a lot of fun playing with the superhero tropes in the modern world because so many of them just don't make sense anymore. Faith is smart enough to know that and adapts as needed. She may be inspired by old-fashioned ideas, but she's far from old-fashioned herself. As for how she fits in, she's still working that part out.

How have you found working with Francis Portela on the series? What has his style brought to the story, for you?

I haven't seen Francis' final pages yet, but the fact that he can do both traditional superhero action so well and still have very expressive characters makes him an ideal collaborator for this book.

Artist Marguerite Sauvage will also be involved in the story here. What role is she playing in the series?

...Let's just say any fantasies that Faith has will be very beautifully rendered.

How big a story do you have in mind for Faith, as the series goes on? Could we expect to see any familiar faces show up?

Faith and her story definitely fit into the larger Valiant Universe. There will be a familiar face or two around.

So... will there be any kissing?

It's got fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants... Wait, sorry, that's "The Princess Bride." There will very possibly be some kissing! There's certainly thinking about kissing in the first issue.

Zephyr is one of the most beloved Valiant characters, from before the relaunch of Valiant and after. What makes her so endearing to readers? Have you figured out what makes her so awesome?

I think comic fans always enjoy seeing a fellow geek stepping into the role of the hero, but beyond that, Faith's confidence and optimism is something that makes her stand out to me. She's a plus-size woman who loves sci-fi and fantasy and enjoys sex, and is 100% comfortable with that. She has a very clear idea of what a hero should be, and is perfectly fine stepping away from people whose actions run counter to that.

You could say that Faith already has a strong sense of who she is; the real story is seeing just how much she can accomplish and grow.

"Faith" #1 debuts in January 2016 from Valiant Entertainment.

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