The modern incarnation of Valiant Comics launched in 2012 with reimaginings of some of the publisher’s biggest characters: Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong and the Harbingers, with cult-favorite properties like Shadowman and Ninjak following soon after. What few could have predicted, though, was a Harbingers ensemble cast member breaking out into superstardom all on her own. Faith Herbet, a.k.a. Zephyr, outshined her peers thanks to her perseverance, upbeat personality, nerdy interests and her status as one of the few plus-sized protagonists in the mainstream superhero genre. The first collected volume of her ongoing series earned accolades from the Young Adult Library Services Association and across the internet comics press, and writer Jody Houser has now shepharded the character through two different series and a time-travling mini. Starting on September 26th, Houser and Faith return in Faith: Dreamside with artist MJ Kim. In this “Valiant Beyond” mini-series, Faith must cross the boundary into the “Dreamside”—a new aspect of the Valiant Universe’s Deadside—to protect the dreams of her younger teammate, Animalia. To do so, Faith will need to recruit the help of Dr. Mirage, Valiant’s premiere parapsychologist hero. In advance of this dreamy team-up, Paste threw a few questions in Houser’s direction. We’ve also got an exclusive first look at covers to Faith: Dreamside #2 from artists Marguerite Sauvage and Sibylline Meynet.
Faith: Dreamside #2 Main Cover art by Marguerite Sauvage
Paste: First, the obligatory question for a series like this—how much do new or lapsed readers need to know about Faith’s current status quo before jumping into Dreamside? How is Faith doing at the start of this story?
Jody Houser: We lay out where Faith stands at the start of the book for readers who aren’t caught up on Faith’s previous adventures. But this is set after her ongoing series, where a group of villains framed her for murder. So she’s currently wanted for murder and not able to operate as a superhero out in the open.
Paste: Faith has a pretty big co-star for this series in Dr. Mirage. What’s it like writing that relationship? Is Faith a fan of Mirage?
Houser: Faith is a huge fan of Dr. Mirage, and a regular viewer of her show. Shan [Editor’s note: Dr. Shan Fong, Dr. Mirage’s alter ego], on the other hand, isn’t nearly as outgoing as Faith. But at the end of the day, they both want to help people in need.
Paste: Dr. Mirage hasn’t had a starring role in the Valiant Universe in a bit. Where do we find her at the start of the book?
Houser: The new incarnation of Shan’s show is well-established by this point, and she’s currently in Los Angeles doing promotion. Hwen [Editor’s note: Li Hwen Mirage, Shan’s late husband] is still present, and they are still able to talk. But touch still seems to be out of the question.
Faith: Dreamside #2 Variant Cover art by Sibylline Meynet
Paste: You’re charting a new territory in the Deadside here: the Dreamside. What can you tease about this new realm? What do Faith and Mirage encounter when they cross that border?
Houser: I don’t want to spoil anything here, so let’s just say that the Deadside isn’t just for people who have passed on.
Paste: Faith has seen a lot across her adventures, but she hasn’t come up against supernatural threats too often. How is she handling the spookier side of the Valiant Universe? And how are you enjoying diving into more horror-related territory?
Houser: I personally love horror and love writing it. But as seen in her ongoing series, horror is probably Faith’s least-favorite genre. Being a hero doesn’t mean playing it safe, though. So even if she’s scared, Faith will go where she needs when duty calls. Sometimes that’s through time, and sometimes it’s beyond death.
Paste: After working on the Winter Special, what does MJ Kim bring to the book and its brand-new locations?
Houser: MJ’s art has a beautiful fantastical quality that will work perfectly with building up this new world. She also draws Faith beautifully. I can’t wait to see this book.
Faith: Dreamside #1 Main Cover art by Marguerite Sauvage