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by Thegreatmagnet on September 28, 2017

Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Diego Bernard with Juan Castro, and Cary Nord with Brian Thies
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Faith and the Future Force has been a pretty interesting concept for a series: a Doctor Who-inspired time travel story with a heavy dose of “Live. Die. Repeat” (at least based on what I remember from the trailer). The heroes must stop a villain who threatens to erase all of history (which is technically supposed to be impossible in the Valiant universe), and they continually repeat a cycle of failure and death before sending a message to their past selves for the next loop. It seems like a fairly original premise and format for a comic book. That being said, I was slightly underwhelmed by the amount of progress in the previous issue, as emphasized by the healthy repetition of certain panels and conversations. However, I’m very satisfied by the narrative progress in this issue, where they finally seem to be breaking out of the loop and working towards a solution.
The biggest development in this issue is that Neela finally takes time to consult with Faith, the titular character of the series. Up to this point, Neela had refused to brief Faith on the specifics of time travel, saying that they had no time to discuss (yay time travel jokes). Beyond that, Neela was purposefully withholding key information from Faith, namely that there was reason to suspect Faith had died during a previous loop. Ultimately we’ve seen them complete the loop three times, and they accomplished relatively little besides serving up a buffet of powerful heroes for the villain to absorb. It’s possible that Neela only changes her approach in this issue because there are almost no more major heroes left to recruit, forcing her to acknowledge that her original approach could not succeed. It’s a major moment for Neela, admitting her own arrogance, which is apparently a natural tendency for timewalkers. Her logical, scientific mind could not find the solution, so she’s forced to consult with the creative, speculative mind of a rabid science fiction fan (citation: Chris from Calgary). I would argue this is also a huge moment for Faith, who is well known for her flight and telekinetic powers and her unflagging positivity and heroism. This promises to establish Faith as a formidable mind, and a resourceful leader…look out, Kris Hathaway!!
Another satisfying development in this issue is that they seem to be suggesting a direct link between the villain and the events of 2014’s “Ivar, Timewalker” series. The epic (very Doctor Who-esque) conclusion of that series involved Neela and Ivar creating a seemingly infinite multiverse of alternate realities, which ultimately needed to be erased to save all of reality. This issue suggests that the villain (Do-Bot) may have escaped from one of those destroyed realities, and that this may tie in to his motivation to destroy history in our familiar Valiant universe. I’m very gratified by the possibility that they are tying this story into “Ivar, Timewalker”, especially given that the premise fundamentally contradicts an important concept from that series. In addition, this revelation makes Do-Bot a much more compelling character, although his exact motivations still need clarification in the final issue. He could easily be driven by revenge, but that would be a relatively disappointing revelation after the cliffhanger setup at the end of this issue.
I was also struck by the preamble of this issue, where Faith essentially suggests that all superheroes have tragic origins. It’s a provocative suggestion, and Jody does an artful job of conveying the most iconic examples without being patronizing, even though I wonder if it is an over-generalization. Certainly, being a hero is an impossibly demanding calling, which would explain the need for drastic backstories: why else would individuals continue to hero after extensive self-sacrifice physically, emotionally, monetarily, etc? That’s what makes them heroes. However, I’m struck by the juxtaposition of this opening with the revelations about Do-Bot’s tragic back-story. Is it possible that Do-Bot is a hero, or thinks he is one, or will eventually become one? Or will they flip the script and land on the concept that all villains believe themselves to be the hero?
On the art front, this issue was my favorite of the entire series thus far. I enjoy the device they’ve been using for this series, wherein they use a different lead artist for each time through the narrative loop. This issue features two of my favorite Valiant artists, Diego Bernard and Carey Nord. Diego always does a great gob, and his art in this issue is very clean, attractive and dynamic. Even more exciting is the return of Carey Nord, who was a key creator during the early re-launch of Valiant. Carey’s work is more stylized with thicker lines and shading, and it’s welcome any time in my book. I also really enjoyed the color work by Arreola, and I’m impressed by his painterly ability to blend between colors with a dynamic yet subtle touch.
Overall I was very pleased with this issue. It starts with a bang, featuring nearly all of Valiant’s most popular heroes, and thankfully they break the cycle that dominated the first two issues with a pretty clear trajectory towards the conclusion. As is often the case, a lot will depend on the writer’s ability to tie up the various plot threads and fill in the gaps in the final issue. Given Houser’s extensive background with Doctor Who, I’m hopeful that she is up to the task of delivering an airtight and mind-bending time-travel story. Allons-y!

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