Review – Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special #1 (Valiant)

Publisher: Valiant
Writer: Marguerite Sauvage
Artwork: Francis Portela, M.J. Kim
Release Date: 6th December 2017

Faith Herbert has managed to effortlessly springboard her way to the top of my “favourite superhero” list in recent years, so the prospect of acclaimed artist Marguerite Sauvage turning her hand to writing and bringing us a festive Faith one-shot filled me with a similar level of glee as a young child on Christmas Eve.

Here, Sauvage provides us with a Lewis Caroll-themed story as Faith is transported into the fantastical world of one of her favourite childhood TV shows to save Wonderland from its corrupted Queen. Part festive fable, part commentary on the commercialisation of Christmas and the suppression of imagination, it offers up a fairly rewarding done-in-one story that helps to showcase the skills of both of its creators.

Sauvage proves that she has some impressive writing chops to go along with her unquestioned artistic abilities, but at the same time, I just couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that her Faith didn’t really sound or feel like… well, like Faith. The twists and turns of the story definitely kept the pages turning, but it almost felt like any other well-meaning heroine could have easily been slotted into Faith’s place without any significant changes being required.

Sauvage’s dialogue is solid and engaging throughout, but lacked the geeky pop culture references that always help to make Faith such an endearing protagonist.  And while a constant stream of Doctor Who gags could have potentially derailed what was otherwise a sweet, wholesome tale, it would have been nice to have just a little acknowledgment of Faith’s distinctive way of talking and thinking.

On the visual side of things, Francis Portela’s artwork is its bold, lively self here, and the characters and settings provided to him by Sauvage gives him ample opportunity to cut loose with some wild and wonderful (pun partially intended) artistic moments.  And right from the bright, in-your-face opening page which sees the inhabitants of Wonderland fleeing in terror from their new Queen, Portela does a scintillating job of bringing Sauvage’s ambitious narrative to life.

Ultimately then, as a straight-up Christmas story, Faith in Wonderland definitely ticks all the boxes, providing a fun, fantastical tale with an uplifting message about the importance of imagination at its core.  However, as an actual Faith comic, it doesn’t quite deliver the way it should,  hampered slightly by an unfamiliar version of our favourite Valiant heroine.  Whatever way you look at it though, it’s still well worth a look if you’re in the mood for an upbeat, eye-catching slice of festive fun.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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