What's in a female superhero? Nothing grounded in reality, some might argue — and they wouldn't be completely wrong. For decades, female superheroes have been cast as the same old character type: a mysterious, sexy, impossibly proportioned woman whose sensuality is very much a part of her character. But if you are tired of the same old female superhero trope, meet Valiant Comics' plus-size superhero, Faith, a very different kind of character whose new mini-series is taking the comic book world by storm.
Faith Herbert — or Zephyr, if you're referring to her superhero alias — stars in Valiant's new comic book mini-series named after her. Written by Jody Hauser and illustrated by Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage, Faith is a mild-mannered reporter by day and a soaring superhero who fends off crime and a potential alien invasion in Los Angeles by night.
Created some 25 years ago, Faith originally appeared in Valiant's hit comic series Harbinger and quickly became popular as what editor-in-chief Warren Simons calls "essentially the moral compass" of the Valiant Universe.
But next to her size — unconventional by comic book and general media standards — Faith also has the distinction of being the opposite of a dark, brooding superhero like, say, Batman.
"She's a true hero; an optimist who sincerely believes that good can triumph over evil and that people can change," Simons told A Plus. "It's one of the things that's made her such a fan-favorite. You don't need to go far to find a grizzled anti-hero remorsefully killing his way through his stories, and Faith's the antithesis of that."
Although there are many things that make her unique, Faith's personality is what really makes her stand out.
"Faith has always been plus-size from the very beginning, and that was the genius of the creators," Valiant CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani told People. "The original Valiant offices were about 50 percent female. Some of them looked like Faith, and they looked around and wanted to create something that reflected the world that they see when they looked in the mirror."
The little scrutiny placed on Faith's size also serves the purpose of normalizing these realistic portrayals of women. Particularly in a medium whose female characters are, more often than not, equipped with tiny waists, large breasts, thin legs and the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast, Faith is a breath of fresh air.
"I think that the challenge in creating realistic depictions of women in media extends far beyond comic books and comic book artists," Simons said. "It's something that permeates all mass media and glossy magazines. I'm extraordinarily proud of the series, and I think Jody [Hauser] summed it up best: Faith isn't a plus-size superhero, but a superhero who happens to be plus-size."