By Zack Quaintance — Every comic is unique, of course, but Faithless #1 struck me as a singular book from the first pages. It’s written by Brian Azzarello, a veteran comics writer who has had success with a wide range of titles, from hey day Vertigo stuff like 100 Bullets to recent Big 2 works like his New 52 Wonder Woman run to a number of comics in between. Faithless shares little in common with any of those.
Let’s start with that little. Azzarello’s script is polished as all get out. The dialogue bumps right along, never feeling inorganic, and structural concerns like page turns and cliffhangers and reveals are all interesting and right on time. The subject matter of this story, however, is unlike any other the writer has tackled, at least not overtly in this debut issue. Faithless is the story of a character named Faith, a listless (you can tell by her bedroom floor) and hip presumably 20-something who is working hard to figure out love and witchcraft.
As an experienced comics reader, it doesn’t take much to figure out this series is going to be about those two things intertwined. It’s all over the title and preview summary. What I didn’t expect, however, was how subtle the script would make it, how patient and restrained the intersection of those two ideas would feel. Cards on the table, I had also questioned whether a man like Azzarello, whose fictional concerns have regularly been straightup brutal throughout his accomplished career, was the right writer for a story about two young women in love.
He handles the story well, though, and most importantly gives artist Maria Llovet quite a lot to work with, in terms of interesting visual territory. Llovet turns out fantastic work. The visuals in this book are really something special, from the close-ups of the protagonists lips and eyes on the first page, to the designs of her hip and detached friends in the coffee shop, to some of the more outlandish genre imagery that comes later (in places I won’t spoil). The closest comparison in recent modern comics that comes to mind is Leslie Hung’s artwork on Snotgirl. It has the same sort of wavy nouveau look to it, putting out a final product that looks like the hippest influencers on Instagram filtered back through a big money, emerging brand advertising campaign. It’s special stuff, and this book (obviously) simply could not exist without it, not in any form I’d be likely to praise near this level.
At this point in his career, Azzarello is really a bit of a known quantity, this title, however, is a surprise. If you like the sound of any or all of that, it’s pretty safe to jump into without reservation, especially if the preview artwork grabs you. My loan qualm is there is a bit of cynicism dancing around the edges here, a bit of darkness where maybe there doesn’t need to be one, but I still enjoyed this title quite a bit.
Overall: An interesting and curious comic, one that features some of the most stylish artwork in recent comics memory, along with a quick pace and delightfully acerbic scripting. 8.5/10
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Maria Llovet
Letterer: AndWorld Design
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.