One of Valiant Entertainment’s most likeable and down-to-earth characters finally gets a spotlight issue, and “Harbinger: Faith” #0 is appropriately penned by the writer who made her that way. Joshua Dysart made the “Harbinger” series a success largely due to his ability to know how to write teenage characters, and he brings that same skill to Zephyr’s semi-solo adventure this issue. Dysart’s “Armor Hunters: Harbinger” collaborator Robert Gill also illustrates this one-shot.
Readers of Valiant’s recent “Unity” #12 learned that Faith has been recruited by the team of the same name following the breaking up of The Renegades, and this issue serves as a nice bridge between these events. Dysart mainly focuses on her relationship with fellow former Renegade John Torkelson, aka Torque. Despite their superpowers, Dysart convincingly shows that the two have a relationship that doesn’t seem all that different from otherwise normal teens, and establishes a candid and sometimes emotionally painful dynamic between the two that was only part of a bigger story within the pages of a team book.
The two grow apart in Dysart’s story, as Torque revels in the couple’s newfound celebrity status while Faith has further reaching, more altruistic motives for her talent. Despite her fame, Faith remains refreshingly modest and unassuming, and carries a large amount of self-confidence without seeming boisterous. Where Dysart truly excels is at capturing her dueling woman vs. girl personalities; she’s remarkably mature for her age, yet still can’t quite hide her giddiness and impulsive reactions at certain times. This is the kind of characterization that Dysart has made a trademark of his Valiant work and he superbly captures it here.
Gill’s strengths are ironically closely tied to his weaknesses in the issue. He wonderfully captures Faith as a little girl in a flashback sequence that reveals her early love of comic books, and her facial expressions capture that perfect kind of wide-eyed innocence, and starry-eyed infatuation with a certain boy. For the most part, he does well with facial likenesses with the current teenage Faith as well, but there are many wildly glaring inconsistencies. A gleefully smiling Faith looks too cartoonish in some instances, at best, and downright awkward in others. Gill also struggles with keeping her size looking consistent from different angles.
Otherwise, though, Gill makes an attractive looking issue, using multiple viewpoints that capture what Faith sees from both the ground and from high in the air. It gives Gill a valid reason to draw both nicely detailed aerial views of Downtown Los Angeles as well as the Channel Islands off the coast. The comic shop younger Faith hangs out at even looks pretty cool. Colorist Jose Villarrubia mostly uses lighter pastel shades, which subliminally match Faith’s generally bright mood and easygoing nature.
Dysart keeps the issue moving briskly by jumping from scene to scene every couple of pages. “Harbinger: Faith” #0 has the feel of an origin issue, in the sense that it’s shows Faith moving into the realm of more responsible adulthood, but it doesn’t have the compacted, summarizing vibe of a true origin. Readers who enjoyed Dysart’s “Harbinger,” the current “Unity” series, or who just love great characterization in comics, will want to pick up this look at a superheroine who is growing up.