The second trade paperback in the Faith comic book series is called California Scheming. It is, again, written by Jody Houser! Hooray for women working in comic books! The rest of the creative team is still largely male, although Marguerite Sauvage is the artist for the fantasy sequences (more about that later). In the hands of a woman, our fat female superhero is treated with dignity and is so very human — despite her abilities to fly and use a “companion field” to carry people and objects and protect herself from bullets, for example.
The character was introduced in a previous series, briefly, where she was not taken seriously. In Jody Houser’s hands, Faith is a fully realized woman. By day, the character goes by Summer Smith, wears a wig and glasses, and works as a content creator at a trendy online magazine. To friends who know she’s a superhero, she’s Faith Herbert, the name she was given at birth. And Faith is a huge science fiction, fantasy, and comic book nerd. When she puts on her costume, her superhero name is Zephyr. I asked my comic-loving husband if superheroes typically have two “day” names, and he said no. However, when Clark Kent becomes Superman, how is it not obvious who he is? Thus, it makes sense that Faith takes on a “day job” name and disguise.
California Scheming has two mini stories that will likely continue in the next trade paperback. Firstly, Zephyr is out late fighting “generic” crime — no archnemeses! — and is struggling to stay awake at work. A few co-workers know who she is, so they take pity on her. But, Faith’s boss knows too, and wants to use that knowledge to guilt her employee to pen a column by Zephyr to increase readership. #WorkProblems! While it’s hard to know when to keep her superhero and work lives separate, Faith can’t say no when Zephyr is asked to do an interview with a famous male celebrity — a fictional Chris Pine/Hemsworth/Evans/Pratt type. There were some definitely “mwa ha ha” parts in this first mini plot that made me giggle and roll my eyes, but I still had fun.
The second plot line was much more interesting. Faith asks a guy she’s interested in to go to a comic con with her. The guy has never been to one, so the entire plot is framed by “CON TIPS!” for attendance, such as, “There are all kinds of people who go to conventions. Don’t be a gatekeeper! Remember that everyone is welcome.” Meanwhile, Faith and her guy are fighting a villain who is stealing from vendor booths! Jody Houser creates interesting action sequences between a hero and villain while paying respect to the comic con setting with these “CON TIPS!” And the comic con beautifully emphasizes Faith’s nerdy background that relates to readers. I had to confirm some of the inside jokes, such as when Faith thinks, “This is the worst night. Midi-chlorians bad,” confirming Jody Houser’s nerd-chops.
When Faith’s fantasizing about how she would like things to go (e.g. meeting the famous Chris for an interview), her fantasies are drawn by Marguerite Sauvage, whose style is girly, a bit pixie, more colorful, like She-Ra: Princess of Power mixed with Japanese animation. I love how Faith has hopes for how things will go in her life, which is clear motivation — a perspective I haven’t seen in the few male superhero comics I’ve read. Everything is about global, if not universal, destruction with male superheroes, which makes them unrelatable to me.
I found Faith: California Scheming both relatable and fun to read. The character is new, so any reader can jump in easily to her story, and we continue to get a fat woman represented beautifully in a medium that is still unfriendly territory for women. Faith thinks about her body size (in Hollywood and Vine it was completely unmentioned), but not in a negative way, or with the feeling that she should change. Recommended!