Faithless II #1 Review: A Sparse and Scintillating, yet Stagnant Debut

faithless ii cover image
(Photo: BOOM! Studios)

Publisher BOOM! Studios describes Faithless II as "an erotic depiction of faith, sex, and the devil in the tradition of the divine comedy," marking for a unique and ambitious narrative in any medium. Fans who are familiar with the initial series will come into the experience knowing that they will be witnessing a tale like no other, blending fantasy, horror, and drama that's all wrapped in minimal and hypnotic packaging, thanks to artwork from Maria Llovet. While readers familiar with the original six-issue series might be able to easily dive into this new adventure, new audiences will surely feel both over- and underwhelmed with this debut issue, in spite of how dazzling that art might be.

Faith and Poppy are now in a long-distance relationship, allowing Faith to focus on her art and Poppy to be the face of Dior, which brings with it a number of complications which many in similar relationships struggle through. For emotional support, Faith has roommate Solomon, who pushes her to embrace her artistic nature and keep creating despite the various other personal issues she's suffering through. Louis, meanwhile, continues to exploit Faith for her abilities, with her feelings of being indebted to him conflicting with becoming her own person and establishing a unique identity in her artwork, further exacerbating everything she's experiencing.

Blending together faith, sex, the devil, and the divine comedy is a daunting task, with Azzarello only hinting at what's in store for our characters in this debut issue. While every word and sentence is deliberate and efficient, it leaves Llovet to do the lion's share of work in keeping the reader invested. Some of the plot points are quickly established, such as Poppy and Faith's relationship and Louis' manipulation of his muse. While the absence of dialogue is also used precisely to allow the reader to invest that much more in what they're witnessing a character go through, by the time the issue concludes, we're left to wonder what we just read. It's surely safe to assume that this comic would appeal more to fans of the original series, this issue doesn't do anything to make it accessible to those unfamiliar with the concept and merely intrigued by the tagline. In this regard, the premiere issue feels more like an Issue #0 or a #1/2, bridging the gap between the last journey and what to expect from the future.

Despite there assuredly being storytelling hurdles, Llovet's art is gorgeous from start to finish. Whether she's depicting a relatively static backstage conversation or a character staring into a blank canvas in the middle of the night, there's a certain vibrational energy felt in each panel. Making the achievement all the more impressive is the minimalist art style, conveying these characters with rough edges and smatterings of color, evoking emotions over photorealism. Her talent is especially evident when depicting sexual encounters, finding a way to make these interactions feel exciting and sensual without ever becoming pornographic or exploitative. It's a testament to her work that the book would be nearly as effective if stripped of dialogue entirely.

Faithless fans will be thrilled to revisit its fascinating characters in Faithless II but, while far from being a disappointment, the issue doesn't offer readers much to entice them to return for the next issue, other than for Llovet's gorgeous art.

Published by BOOM! Studios

On June 10, 2020

Written by Brian Azzarello

Art by Maria Llovet

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Cover by Maria Llovet

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