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by Thegreatmagnet on July 26, 2017

Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Stephen Segovia and Barry Kitson
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Faith has become a marquee character for Valiant Comics. Despite a roster of compelling characters, many of whom are much more powerful and impactful, Faith is one of the few Valiant characters that really seems to be crossing over into the larger comic community if not the mainstream of pop culture. Jody Houser’s run on the solo series has generally been very well-received, so it was a bit of a shock when they announced the final issue several months ago. It made much more sense when Valiant announced this standalone 4-issue event shortly thereafter: this book has been promoted as a major showcase for Faith, who must stop a villain from destroying all of time (with support from seemingly every Valiant hero). The sheer scale of the cast of characters along with some general plot elements evoke memories of Valiant’s Unity event from the early 90s, which I feel is one of the greatest events in the history of comics. Needless to say, my expectations have been somewhat high for this series. This issue does a solid job introducing the story (especially for new readers), while incorporating some mysterious elements that will hopefully pay off in the next three issues.
Dating back to the 90s, Valiant’s Timewalker character (first Ivar, now Neela) has always borne an obvious resemblance to Doctor Who, and they seem to be leaning into that here. Jody Houser is a Doctor Who fan. I actually overheard Jody discussing a Doctor Who RPG at Wondercon this year. Faith is also a Doctor Who fan (along with pretty much all things nerdy sci-fi). I’ve been excited by the prospect of Jody Houser writing a Doctor Who story in the Valiant universe with Faith’s meta fangirl tendancies on overdrive. From the very first moment, Faith is on a relentless mission to figure out “the rules”, with the Doctor as her obvious point of reference. I’m hopeful that Jody’s fandom with pay real dividends with an intelligent, mind-bending narrative that perhaps will be able to deconstruct some essential truths about the Doctor Who mythos (just like Houser’s treatment of superhero tropes in her previous Faith run).
As far as plot devices go, I think it’s fair to say that time travel is about as fraught as they come. The very concept invites logical paradoxes and potential plot holes. Valiant actually has significant precedence thanks to 2015’s excellent “Ivar, Timewalker” series. One of the fundamental tenets of that series was based on Hawking’s concept of chronological protection, which argues that the past (or at least the fundamental historical events) cannot be changed. Perhaps this is comparable to the Doctor Who concept of “fixed points in time” (and perhaps Faith will reference this in a future issue). Faith and the Future Force is fundamentally predicated on the idea that history can be changed, and it proves the point almost immediately by referencing that Hitler had been erased from history (something that Ivar, Timewalker specifically proved was impossible). Neela addresses this issue point-blank, stating that it’s evidence that the antagonist can break a fundamental law of nature. So the entire series is premised on the concept that the past can be changed, and consequently the narrative structure sure seems to be leading in the direction of “Edge of Tomorrow”, or parts of “Days of Future Past” (the film). Indeed, when we join the story, we may already be caught in a cycle of events, and this is the most mysterious element of the story: what has already happened that we are not already privy to? Given the prominence of the mysterious plot threads, I have to assume that we’ll get some explanations before the story concludes. I would hope that they also address the question of how the evil robot is able to break fundamental laws of nature and change history (moreso than the panel of math-like gobbledygook that we got in this issue).
More than anything else, the central question or mystery of this series will probably be, “why Faith”? Certainly Faith has proven herself a capable street-level hero and her capabilities have improved with surprising speed. However, she is by no means one of the heavy hitters in the Valiant Universe, who we already know will appear later in the mini-series. However, it’s already clear from hints in the first issue that Faith’s involvement is somehow key to the survival of the universe, and it’s clearly not due to Faith’s fighting prowess against the antagonist. It’s also clear that she doesn’t have any directly applicable experience in the time travel/sci-fi realm, since Neela needs to spoon-feed her all relevant backstory and information. The nature of Faith’s role is probably the most important aspect of this series, and I hope that they can deliver something solid and satisfying in that department.
I feel like the art in this issue is slightly hit or miss. I’m certainly impressed by some of the flashy “effects-heavy” bits, such as the various time portals and/or temporal distortions, or the scenes where the evil robot literally melts faces. I also really enjoy the design of the evil robot antagonist. At the same time, this issue does have some wonky faces that I found distracting, especially on the female dinosaur companion, Ank. Overall I think the art is pretty strong, and the positive moments outnumber and outweigh the negative.
Overall, I think this is a solid first issue (and plus-size by the way) in terms of introducing the story. There are a lot of mysterious elements, as one would hope for a time travel mystery, and the overall success of the series will depend on their ability to tie those threads together. I expect big things in the next three issues, in terms of sheer scale of characters, and also in terms of Doctor Who timey-wimey narrative craziness, hopefully on par with Fred Van Lente’s excellent work with Ivar, Timewalker. I hope I’m not building up my expectations too high on this one!

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