Review by Frank Plowright
Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you felt really low there was a magic cat that told you everything was going to be okay? Oh, and by the way, you’re about to get everything you ever wanted. Well, in the Valiant universe at least, it turns out that’s not such a good thing, as Faith encounters a teen TV star who’s gone off the rails.
Jody Houser’s scripts continue to impress via both some multi-layered characterisation and Faith’s unconventional solutions to problems, such as dealing proficiently with an SUV trailing her. It’s further nice to see people progress as the series continues, the relationship Faith now has with her co-worker Paige being a prime example, although giving her full name would be a step forward. Two main stories occupy the book, one of a creature preying on internal fears, so fitting well into the series, and Faith being haunted by the ghosts of past mistakes. A theme of insecurity has featured before, but both main stories here emphasise it, although via different characters, and both stories also deal with matters not being as they seem. It’s the first that’s the stronger, although neither matches the best of the series to date, being carried through by the appeal of Faith’s personality rather than strong plots.
Superstar features a veritable smogasbord of artists. Marguerite Sauvage providing fantasy interludes is excellent as usual, and Pere Pérez takes on an election strip, where ensuring a correct likeness is a priority. On the main stories Meghan Hetrick supplies a warmth of personality, and Joe Eisma’s good with figures, which is about as far as he goes, not bothering to create viable environments for Faith. You’d imagine she’d only just moved into her apartment, for instance, as it’s so sparsely furnished and decorated by Eisma.
Oddly, because Houser has been so good, the best strip here is a succinct encapsulation of Faith and her approach by Rafer Roberts and Colleen Doran, incorporating yet another practical yet unusual solution to a problem as she destroys weapons via a giant scrapyard style crusher.
And then there’s the elephant in the room, which intrudes early. A brief flirtation with politics via Faith in effect endorsing Hillary Clinton’s run for President is tacky, whether or not your views coincide with hers. For all Louse Simonson’s captions about every vote being equal, only one candidate features, so it transmits as advocacy, and it’s also not unreasonable to suspect that it was generated by Clinton’s campaign staff rather than Valiant. Superhero stories have been used to comment on social issues since the 1960s, but is favouring an election candidate appropriate?
While Faith herself continues to be sympathetic and likeable, what’s she’s surrounded with in Superstar doesn’t match the previous books. Her series continues with The Faithless.