Faith #9: A Study in Narrative Device and Storytelling


Every so often, a comic issue creates a daring narrative, and this month that was Faith. Just like the Hawkeye issue that wrote from the perspective of Pizza Dog, Houser has Faith Herbert’s friends voicing over her story thus sidelining the protagonist in her own story.

At first glance, the reader doesn’t even notice this narrative device. The opening page shows Faith’s friends going about their morning routines, but the first dialogue page is written normally. As we ease into the story, nothing seems out of the ordinary from the storytelling point of view.

On page five, however, we start to see the narrative unfold. The first to voiceover is Faith’s boss Mimi. Her thoughts show up in an orange box, no different from the traditional types of thought boxes often seen in comics. On page six, however, Marguerite Sauvage treats us to Mimi’s daydream in conjunction with the orange boxed private thoughts. Although Mimi’s thoughts are about Faith, they are undeniably about how she views her role in Zephyr’s fame.

Image: Valiant

Cutting back to Faith’s regular day, Faith works with her friend Paige. In the last panel, a green thought box narrates Paige’s private thoughts. Much like the previous chapter, Faith’s actions are the plot but Paige’s thoughts provide the motion for the story. Like Mimi’s daydream, we have Paige’s daydream that shows her as the heroine in Faith’s story.

Image: Valiant

Next up is Jay. In the middle of a staff meeting, he suddenly engages in an out-of-character enraged outburst. At the end of the outburst, the chapter closes with another set of voiceover thought boxes showcasing Jay’s inner thoughts of heroism. Finally, the segment closes with him imagining himself in an Iron Man-esque suit, Zephyr relying on him to help save the world.

Image: Valiant

Despite the overall plot being about Faith, these voiceover narratives act to subvert her role in her own heroism. In doing so, the issue highlights the importance of having a gang that helps the superhero act. Every superhero needs their Scooby gang. Most of the time, however, these characters are treated as secondary or even tertiary to the main hero. This particular issue uses a novel narrative format to showcase the importance of friendship and teamwork.

In the end, the last voiceover we read is Faith’s. As she talks about the way in which her coworkers have become her family, she also tells the reader that she relies on them and that they are her heroes. This ending would be trite but for the way it has been set up throughout the issue. Her friends’ daydreams show how they imagine themselves at their best, equals in Faith’s world saving. Faith recognizes their heroism, even if they don’t. The truth is that all of them are heroes, each with their own powers – be they super or not.

Karen Walsh
Karen Walsh
Karen Walsh is a part time, extended contract, first year writing instructor at the University of Hartford. In other words, she's SuperAdjunct, complete with capes and Jedi robe worn during grading. When Karen isn't teaching, she is a freelance writer who works for a variety of marketing clients focusing on a variety of topics, including InfoSec and parenting. Her geeky and parenting writing can be found at GeekMom. She works in order to support knitting, comics, tattoo, and museum membership addictions. She has one dog, one husband, and one son who all live with her just outside of Hartford, CT. She can be reached on Twitter: @kvonhard and on Facebook:

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