Describing itself as ‘An erotic depiction of faith, sex and the devil, in the tradition of the divine comedy,” Faithless #1 is in essence a love story. BOOM! Studios have in recent years become a go to publisher for teen and young readers but with this new release the intended audience is much older. However, the initial previews may have featured heavily censored images of a sexual nature but the main bulk of this comic is about a women struggling with the void in her life.
The opening of Faithless has been doing the rounds for a few months now, mostly with censored strips, and it introduces the central character and the tone of the comic beautifully. The second page splash image illustrates perfectly Faith and where she is in her life. She lays, unsatisfied and alone on her bed surrounded by mess, partially closed in away from the outside world.
Brian Azzarello introduces the character in a very intimate way which is arousing but ultimately unsatisfying. The reader heads into the story knowing that there is something missing and then follows Faith as she journeys through her day, feeling every knockdown and every adrenaline rush. By starting with a heightened sexual moment Azzarello introduces an electric tension into the narrative which crackles across each page and each encounter that Faith has with Poppy, the new woman in her life.
The sexual tension is evident on each page as Poppy manoeuvres Faith away from her comfort zones and into new, unexplored, territories. There are elements of tragedy, a televised suicide, and criminal manipulation mixed in with narcissistic art and talk of magic. However, it is the interaction between the two women that makes this tale a gripping read. Azzarello makes Poppy a mystery which Faith is trying to uncover. There is one closed character and one open character duelling it out to see who breaks first and through their interactions the reader gets an insight into both of them.
Maria Llovet’s artwork is perfect for Faithless. Her character work is outstanding and extremely emotional. She has the ability to express so much emotion with the minimal amount of lines. Then she is able to switch to packed scene setting shots which reveal as much about a character as a series of extreme close ups.
The inked lines are precise with a fluidity which gives each panel a naturalistic look. This fluidity is especially effective in projecting the sensual aspects of Faith and Poppy’s growing relationship.
Llovet clearly has a passion for fashion as the design work on the clothes for all of the characters is fresh and modern. Her European heritage is reflected in the design of the buildings and the fashion but also in the loose colors and panel boarders. The bright, clean colors and hand drawn panel frames are an extension of Faith’s character and appear to react to her mood within the narrative.
Deron Bennett also adopts a free lettering style with the appearance of misshapen speech balloons and a hand drawn font. This gives the inflections of the speech some gravitas especially when he uses bold text or changes the size of the font.
There is an emphasis on the interaction between the central characters which is displayed through the art and lettering. As the pages turn the relationship between Faith and Poppy intensifies, pulling the reader helplessly along with them.
The influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy, referred to earlier, is obvious and Faithless has a narrative flow which reflects elements of the 12th century Italian poem. It starts with a character who is lost, trapped by the people around her until she meets someone new, who takes her on a new journey.
The creative team of Azzarello, Llovet and Bennett pack this comic with erotic tension and seduce the reader with each page. The artwork is beautiful and sensual; the script is subtle and clever; the letters are suggestive and emotive.
Issue 1 of Faithless is a superb first issue brimming with character and intrigue. A certain element of the comic will catch the eye and receive a lot of internet chatter, the eroticism element, but Faithless is so much more than titillation. It is rooted in a centuries old narrative tradition and it is at heart, at least in this first issue, a love story.