There are a lot of superhero comics competing for eyeballs out there, but as soon as I heard about Valiant’s series Faith, I knew I had to read it. Faith Herbert is a wonderfully geeky fangirl with the power to fly and move objects with her mind, talents that categorize her as a psiot. As the hero Zephyr, she was part of the Harbinger series but has now struck out on her own to become a gritty, down and dirty superhero.
One more thing.
Faith is also a plus-sized young woman, something not usually depicted in comic books. I steeled myself against the inevitable references to her weight throughout the first two issues, but those references never came and I breathed a sigh of relief. This, so far, is truly a body-positive series that focuses on life instead of looks.
Faith has a timid secret identity as a viral content writer, and the breathtaking art switches between daydreams of gorgeous rainbow fantasy sequences (done by Marguerite Sauvage) and the stark, bold lines depicting reality (drawn by Francis Portela), whether it’s a tedious nine-to-five job writing click-bait critiques of her ex-boyfriend’s reality show or investigating the disappearance of fellow psiots as Zephyr and blaming herself for a fiery tragedy. As she delves into the mystery, she’ll have the chance to show the world what a superhero truly looks like. This short four-issue series is written by Jody Houser, and it has me rooting for Faith at every turn.
The series is easy to jump into without any previous knowledge of Harbinger, and the few overlap characters are clearly defined, like Faith’s ex-boyfriend and another team member who scouts out missions. I hope Valiant has a longer run planned for the future, because I gotta have Faith.
Monday’s premiere of Supergirl on CBS proved that people are willing to watch a female-led superhero show, but there’s more going on besides the adorable, plucky girl with the House of El crest on her chest. Admittedly, the premiere hits the girl power message with all the speed and force of a daughter of Krypton, and well they should. The waitress in the diner scene remarks that finally her daughter will have “someone to look up to” and out here in the real world, beyond National City, scores of little girls will dress up in red and blue and pretend to save civilization.
That’s awesome, but a girl doesn’t have to grab a cape to tap into this show’s female power. While Kara Danvers whips off her glasses and fights crime, Cat Grant, Kara’s boss and the head of CatCo, is kicking butt in her own way. She’s an entrepreneur who makes tough decisions and is completely comfortable in her own skin. Not only that, she expects the same from Kara, as noted in the scene where her secretly super assistant protests the name “Supergirl.”
“What do you think is so bad about ‘girl’?” she asks. “I’m a girl, and your boss, and powerful and rich and hot and smart. If you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?”
She knows she’s attractive, shooting the “she doesn’t know she’s beautiful” trope in the face with a bazooka, and she has brains and she doesn’t need your approval, thank you very much. She also expects those around her to step up, and re-evaluates their worth once they do, as she tells Kara “If you can’t take credit when you do something well, you’ll be at the bottom of the pile forever.”
Supergirl’s sweet, innocent attitude is wonderful, and she’s a lovely role model. But any girl who grows up with the confidence of Cat Grant could actually change the world and make sure women finally earn as much as men. There are girls who aim to be princesses and superheroes and that’s fine. There are also girls like my friend’s young daughter who grabs Mom’s pink Coach bag and pretends to be a CEO closing a global deal on a cell phone before jetting off to Europe. That’s even better. Because that dream can come true.
Not only is this International Women’s Day, it’s a day to celebrate Elise Raymonde Deroche, also known as Baroness de Laroche. On this day in 1910, de Laroche was the first woman ever to receive a pilot’s license for an airplane.
Born in 1882 in France, she had an early passion for mechanical things, including motorcycles and cars, and took to the skies as a balloonist before the first planes came along. Her forthright manner and engineering knowledge resulted in others bestowing the title of “Baroness” to her; Baroness de Laroche took the name and flew with it, attending gatherings of aviators in places like Egypt, Hungary and Russia, where she flew in a challenging demonstration on a small aviation ground before the Czar and received his personal congratulations afterward.
“He asked what my feelings had been, and I was able to assure him that his presence in the first place, and the houses and the landing ground, which was only 30 meters wide, in the second, had brought my heart into my mouth,” she later told Colliers magazine.
Although she would later set world records in the air, she was grounded during World War I because the military believed flying was too risky for female pilots. Instead, she became a driver, often transporting officers to and from the battlefield front lines, a job that was only slightly less dangerous than flying.
After the war, de Laroche was again in her favorite place among the clouds as part of her new goal to become the first female test pilot. She died doing what she loved in 1919, when a training flight aboard an experimental craft crashed. Although she never fully realized her last goal, she still has a lofty place in aviation history and a statue in her honor at France’s Le Bourget Airport.
Opinions are the universal tool in every geek’s toolbox, and 11-year-old Rowan Hansen put hers to good use when she noticed that DC Comics had far fewer girl superheroes, and that they wore less clothes than their male counterparts. She wrote a letter to DC outlining her concerns.
At first, DC responded to Rowan with a tweet, and then upped their response when the story went viral with suitably impressive gift basket of goodies including hard-to-find action figures of DC female characters, and original art depicting Rowan into a superhero herself.
Speaking of her favorite, Wonder Woman, on NBC’s Today show, she said “It would be nicer if she didn’t wear a bathing suit all the time.”
In both her television appearance and her letter, she eloquently made her case for quality and quantity in the DC universe. We bet if DC needs some good storylines for their newest hero, the real Rowan should be able to help them with that, too.