Faith Herbert hs become one of Valiant Entertainment's biggest breakout characters. She made a splash when she debuted in the pages of Harbinger, but she's come into her own as a solo hero in Faith, written by Jody Houser.
Houser is about to take the next step is raising Faith's profile. Faith will headline Valiant's upcoming event Faith and the Future
At the Valiant Summit in Los Angeles, ComicBook.com spoke to Houser about what is easily her biggest Faith story yet.
When you started working on Faith, did you have any inclination at the time that she would eventually come to be the headliner on this big Valiant Comics event?
Jody Houser: No. I mean, I think anything that really hits the public sphere like that, you're rarely expecting it, and of course, you always hope that what you're writing, that people really latch onto and really like what you're doing, but the audience response completely blew me away. Just the fact that she's come to mean so much to so many people is really gratifying. I love that her profile really has risen a lot in terms of both Valiant and in comics in general.
She's an interesting character because she is in herself a geek, but there are other characters who try to fit into that mold and they often end up feeling somewhat patronizing. What do you think is the key to making that kind of character feel as genuine as Faith does?
JH: For me, just in terms of writing Faith, I'm just putting a lot of my own geekdom loves in there. Going back to Joshua Dysart's run, most of the things she liked were also things I like, which is part of the reason why it seemed like she would be such a fun character to write. Most of the stuff she would say, like the pop culture references, are things that I do say in real life. There's a lot of me in there. It's not someone just trying to make it look hip or "that's what the kids are watching." I think with a character like that you want it to come from a genuine place and you really want it to reflect how pop culture really has impacted people because again, it's been such a huge influence on her being a superhero and her deciding she can make a difference.
For those who have been following the Faith ongoing series, how would you describe Faith and the Future Force? What does it have in common with the ongoing series and what sets it apart?
JH: It's definitely on a bigger scale than anything we've done in the ongoing book. I think Faith is really at a point, especially after this last story arc that we're doing in the ongoing series, "The Faithless," she's dealt with a lot of different super villains. Now they're all coming together. What's the next step after that? What's the next big thing that she'll have to face? Apparently, it's the complete destruction of all reality. You don't actually get much bigger than that. What she does after Faith and the Future Force will be interesting to figure out. Maybe she'll just have a nice vacation.
Are you at all worried about how you are going to outdo the destruction of all time and reality?
JH: No. I think one of the fun things I've tried to do in terms of Faith as an ongoing series is to have each of the different story arcs be something of a different genre. We have a magical girl-esque story, we had a horror-esque story, and we had the fantasy, weird, magic story. I think this is sort of like the big comic book event story, and I know during the summit they referenced Infinity Gauntlet and things like that, where all the heroes are coming together. I think, after this, that we refocus back on Faith and her own life, and how a big event and working with all the people like this has changed her. I think we'll be able to take what she's been doing and go in a new direction with it.
So the plan is to go different rather than go bigger?
JH: Yes. Yes, and I think, especially when you're working on a character long-term, you do want to see how they evolve and change and how their different experiences affect them. You don't want everything to just always go back to the same status quo if you can avoid it.
As you mentioned, Infinity Gauntlet was brought up as a point of comparison during the summit. Is there an event that you think of in your mind as a touchstone for these kinds of stories?
JH: Well, for me, the first big comic event I ever read as a kid was Age of Apocalypse. That's always sort of like my go-to. Thematically this is very different, but Age of Apocalypse did still have, like us, that seeing all the different characters. It was the scope of the entire universe. In terms of scale, I think there is a similarity there, but we're not going to have people suddenly having mullets and missing hands and stuff.
...Or will we?
So maybe less glam than Age of Apocalypse?
JH: I don't think we could ever match the glam of Age of Apocalypse.
Faith and the Future Force is also bringing back Neela from Ivar, Timewalker. What's your take on who Neela is and what does she bring to this event?
JH: Well, I love Ivar, Timewalker, the book, and it's really interesting getting to play with Neela after that experience because that definitely changed her in a lot of ways. I think one of the fun things about Faith and the Future Force is we see Neela taking on the same role that Ivar played with her, and that she then eventually played with the younger Ivar, but with a new dynamic and with a new character. We'll see if she makes some of the same mistakes that we've seen in Ivar, Timewalker because I feel like once you get to a certain point with your time-traveling maybe you do tend to start repeating history in terms of things you should or shouldn't do. I'm trying not to get too spoiler-y here.
Ivar, Timewalker drew some comparisons to Doctor Who, a franchise we know Faith is a fan of. Is there a kind of Doctor and companion dynamic between Faith and Neela? And who takes on which role?
JH: That's actually one of the things I'm really enjoying because if you go back and read Ivar there's a lot of subtle hints in there that Neela really doesn't like Doctor Who, and Faith of course loves Doctor Who. I refer to this event as "the epic team-up of a Doctor Who fan and someone who doesn't like Doctor Who," but there definitely is a little bit of Faith wanting to be the Doctor's companion and Neela's like, "No, stop saying that. That's not how this works. Just no."
With this event, you have the opportunity to pair Faith with basically anybody from the Valiant universe. Have you have grown especially fond of any particular pairing? Or is there anyone that you particularly look forward to teaming with Faith?
JH: I just really want to have her have a conversation with Ninjak because my belief is that Ninjak is actually secretly a fan of all these quirky, British sci-fi shows and Faith might be the only one he would admit it to because he knows she'd understand. That might just be me wanting to put this in the book, but also just because Ninjak is such a different character in tone than Faith and I love throwing really contrasting characters together. After her experience with Unity and her clear distaste for heroes that just kill everyone, why not put her with one of the heroes who really will decapitate anyone in his path?
You've built up a considerable set of villains of Faith. Is there one that stands out to you as the one you can see bringing back time and time again?
JH: I love Chris Chriswell because he's the villain who's very much Faith's opposite. He is the one who read a lot of the same comics and watched a lot of the same shows as Faith did, but he learned the opposite lesson. He learned that villains are super cool and he wanted to be a villain. I love drawing the two of them together because they are so similar in their own way, and also just because he looks like Chris Evans. It's always fun to see the artist's drawing.
Faith and the Future Force is getting the spotlight today, but the Faith ongoing is still ongoing. Can you say anything about what's coming next for that series?
JH: Not right now. I don't think there's anything I can say that wouldn't be a big spoiler. I can say that whatever happens next in the Faith ongoing will stem out of the new status quo after the end of the Faith and the Future Force.
Faith and the Future Force kicks off in July 2017.