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by Thegreatmagnet on December 09, 2017

Written by: Marguerite Sauvage
Art: Francis Portela and MJ Kim
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Faith is a beloved character that has gotten a lot of mileage out of fun, light-hearted adventures. She has served as an important alternative or counterpoint to the generally heavy and serious tone of the main Valiant line. Her title has been an over-achiever, consistently exceeding expectations and delivering pleasant surprises, arguably for the very reason that nobody expects very much substance from a Faith book.  When approaching this one-shot, I wasn’t expecting anything too substantial beyond a fun holiday romp. What we got honestly left me a little confused, in a few different ways.
On a fundamental level, I’m not sure I understand precisely what happens in this story. This story could arguably involve time travel, magic, dreams, metaphor, or all of the above. Can we take on face value that these events really happened, and Faith journeyed into the past as well as into a Fantasy world? Does the Fantasy world really exist alongside the real world, with Alice serving as a conduit? This could also clearly be a metaphor given the fan letters Faith sent as a child. However, one of the main plot points in the story involves Faith bringing a nostalgia postcard with her to the past to awaken Alice, and it’s strongly implied that Alice retains the postcard in the real world at the end of the issue, suggesting that the events in the issue do actually take place. Meanwhile, Faith does not retain her bunny costume after returning to the future at the end of the issue, further muddying the issue of whether these events really happened. Whether literal or metaphorical, what happened to Alice and the Fantasy world after Faith’s actions?
I’m also a bit confused about the general premise or concept between this story. I think that most readers probably expected a Christmas story, given the holiday-specific trappings in the cover art. However, there’s not really too much about Christmas in the story, aside from passing references at the beginning and end of the story. Although I’m not a “War on Christmas” alarmists, and I certainly don’t need Christmas fare in my media, I find it odd that Faith doesn’t mention the Renegades (her closest family) at any point during the holiday issue. I’m also confused why they chose to combine the narrative with a story that takes inspiration from Alice and Wonderland, which doesn’t really have any holiday association. Ultimately there aren’t really that many story similarities to Alice and Wonderland, beyond a handful of character designs. Unfortunately I think that by trying to combine both narratives, they didn’t really have the space to do either effectively.
Another thing that there didn’t seem to be enough of in this story was Faith. There are so many characters, locations and concepts to introduce in the Fantasy world (Wonderland analog) that there’s not much space for Faith’s bubbling positivity and trademark pop culture references. Beyond that, it’s somewhat unclear why Faith was the chosen one, and the only person who could save the day. She is essentially led around and instructed by Mister Rabbit the entire time, including the decisive act of delivering the postcard to Alice. Is Faith the chosen one because of her past correspondence with Alice?
In all fairness, there are some interesting ideas in this story about consumerism. At its core, the story is arguably a tale about the encroachment of corporate and commercial interests on the creative spirit, as embodied by the producer who threatens Alice. There is also a significant scene featuring the “pink candy” and “blue candy” monsters, that seem designed to condition young children with consumerist attitudes. I have to admit that this seems like a ballsy choice for what is ostensibly a holiday book, although as previously discussed, this is not strictly a Christmas story.
On the art front, although it was a major surprise not to have Marguerite Sauvage on art duties (per the solicitations), the art in the issue was undeniably solid. I especially enjoyed the contribution of Kim, who seems to be a newcomer to Valiant. His work was highly detailed, and has mild vibe of childrens’ book illustrations. I really hope that he continues to contribute interior work for Valiant going forward. In the color department, Dalhouse’s also shines, and I love his translucent and iridescent effects on the portals and fairies. While I can only imagine how Marguerite Sauvage might have drawn this issue, I’m not at all dissatisfied by the art that we did receive.
I know that I’m probably thinking about this too hard, and maybe that’s my problem. Sometimes the best way to have fun is to dig into something light and fluffy, and not worry about things making sense. Perhaps this story is too close to making sense without being fully there, making it a little harder to turn my brain off. Or perhaps I’m lacking when it comes to a sense of humor when it comes to all things Valiant. There are certainly interesting ideas in this issue, but perhaps there were just too many ideas to execute effectively in one regular-sized issue.

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