Superhero Faith Zepher Herbert

CN: Body Image, Fat shaming

I stopped by Dreamer’s Cards and Games in St. Louis Park last weekend. Cute little store: Tiny selection of comics and games, pretty large selection of Magic cards, and half the store dedicated to a playing area. I was browsing their comics selection and my gaze snagged on…wait…is that a FAT FLYING HAPPY-LOOKING FEMALE SUPERHERO!?

Image is of a comic book cover titled "Faith" #2. A woman in a white billowing suit is flying in the air, arms outstretched and hair blowing in the wind. In the background is blue sky and puffy white clouds, and there are white doves flying around the perimeter of the image, as though she's just flown throw a flock of them.

I’m not traditionally a superhero comics reader, but that’s probably mostly a timing thing. I missed them growing up, and now they’re just one on a looonnnnggg list of hobbies that I’d like to really dig into. But I dabble here and there, and I’ve read enough to know that a fat, female, realistically drawn, happy-looking bona fide superhero is not run of the mill.

The only other fat female superhero that I’ve encountered is Big Bertha (who I learned about because of a thing that happened at CONvergence last year. It’s a long story…I was Alien (The), there were zombies, I had to fight Squirrel Girl who I later looked up and learned was part of Great Lakes Avengers…and that’s how I met Big Bertha). The annoying thing about Big Bertha is that she doesn’t have to be big. She’s a supermodel. Big Bertha is Ashley Crawford’s power; it’s not who she is.

(I do like Terry Moore’s plus-size character, Helen Francine Peters, from the graphic series Strangers in Paradise, but neither she nor SIP fall into the superhero category.)

I did run across a slightly greater number of fat female supervillians …so that’s nice. There’s Stunner who escapes her horrifying, fat, lonely existence as a fat, lonely, single, fat gal by way of Dr. Octopus’s virtual reality technology, which lets her spend time as a smokin’ hot (read: fit and ripped) avatar. And Ranker decided to add Granny Goodness to their The Best Overweight Characters in Comics listing (I think she’s rather statuesque and I like seeing an older human-looking character). Oh, and I found Thumbelina, a terrorist with the Mutant Liberation Front. And there’s Pink Pearl, a villian and terrorist who apparently doesn’t have any superhuman powers; she’s just so obese that she has massive strength and her fat acts sort of like armor(???).

Hmmm…maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t get into superhero comics until I was older.

Image shows multiple comics panels, but the main panel in the foreground shows Faith, a fat, orange-haired scowling woman with her arms crossed over her chest. The text reads "Fine. It's okay. I can do this. I'm a freakin' superhero."

No, you smile. – Summer is Faith’s daytime persona.

Anyway, I’ve only just started the series, so we’ll see how it goes – you know, figure out whether there’s more to the story than just a fat female protagonist. So far Faith is dealing with kidnapped psiots (that’s the type of superhero that she is), and she’s struggling with her aspiring career as an investigative journalist. Faith is compassionate and wrestles with the implications of her responsibilities as a superhero. The first issue of Faith came out this January 2016, but apparently Faith/Zephyr made her first appearance in 1992 as part of Valiant’s Harbinger #1: Children of the Eighth Day, and is getting a title run now, 20 years later. So I might have to go back to that.

I do like that that for the most part Faith’s weight and body shape don’t come up as a topic at all. In the second issue there’s one crack made by her ex’s shapely new girlfriend that’s likely about her weight (“Seriously, that’s your ex? You really traded up.”), but other than that, it hasn’t come up in any obvious or insidious ways.

Anyone else reading this?

Superhero Faith Zepher Herbert
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