THIS REVIEW OF ‘FAITHLESS’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
by Jarrod Jones. Faithless, as a comic, is one of those wonderful kink-jobs that seems designed to catch your eye, lure you in, make you blush. It’s effective in this regard. Bookended with “oh, my” moments Brian Azzarello & Maria Llovet’s Faithless #1 is erotic horror that wants you gasping, talking, typing about how it goes places typical mainstream comics usually daren’t.
Beyond that? As a debut it’s… well, it’s kinda empty in-between, actually; its pages are filled with strange character interactions that would feel appropriately sinister, given the subject matter, had we learned a single damned thing about what these people want—aside from each other—before they bee-lined it from one bed to the next. Sex can be meaningless, but story? The scandal!
The chief character in Faithless is Faith, an amateur conjurer of magicks and listless café patron who can’t seem to bring her journal-sketch spells to fruition, nor herself to orgasm. (When we first meet Faith, she’s in the midst of attempting the latter.) A mere three pages later, she’s blundered into a meet-cute with Poppy, an artist gifted with the ability to seduce just about everybody with her urbane, nigh-supernatural charms. Faith spills a coffee on her stylish top. So Poppy changes into a fresh one right there on the café floor. From there Faith (and the story) follows Poppy to sensual ends. Naturally.
Is sexual gratification tied to necromantic spells? I’d say that’s a spoiler, but who knows; Faithless #1 instead leaves the reader with a teasing ellipsis that makes vague promises that answers are coming in the following chapter—an ending meant, I imagine, to serve as a beckoning finger.
It works to a degree. I’ll be reading Faithless #2 largely to see what narrative fruit can come from Faith meeting Poppy, the infinitely more interesting character who strikes more than a passing resemblance to the series’ artist, Maria Llovet. More, I want to see if the book bothers to rise above deliberate titillation, and/or whether its horror can also maneuver around the seemingly tumescent, “yes, but when are they gonna bone?”, structure. As it stands I don’t know if Faithless has ambitions beyond its slinky aesthetics, but I’m glad it’s here.
That’s largely due to Llovet’s art, which in Faithless is the best it’s been. Two years back she took on similar fare, a collaboration with Patrick Kindlon in Black Mask’s There’s Nothing There, and elevated its lofty existential terrors with natural sensuality and ambitious candy-colored tapestries. There’s little in Azzarello’s script that allows Llovet to push herself, at least in this issue—there’s lots of chatter punctuated by a fleeting moment of violence (which occurs mostly off-panel) and there is, of course, the issue’s marquee eroticism—but the artist makes it all work anyway.
Llovet’s skill is Faithless‘ main attraction. Her characters weave and flow with fluid expression and often attempt to break free from wiggly panel lines; the book bleeds impeccable style with a cosmopolitan pop; her SFX are as much a part of the pages as the people who populate them. Though there’s close to zero visceral horror in this issue, what little we’re offered is presented with a passive disdain which becomes almost a tease in itself. “Oh, honey, that’s nothing,” Faithless #1 seems to say. “We have such sights to show you.”
On the docket: Faith, sex, and the devil. Faithless #1 pays minor lip-service to two of these things—unless “Faith” is meant to be taken literally in this instance—and gives a major-league tongue-lashing to the other. Azzarello & Llovet’s story is meant to glide parallel to Dante, so presumably Faith’s ascent towards sexual Paradise will surely be swatted down into some vertiginous Purgatory? Are answers coming in tandem with Faith? Is Brian Azzarello just toying with us? Can I think of a time when he wasn’t?
BOOM! Studios / $3.99
Written by Brian Azzarello.
Art by Maria Llovet.
Letters by AndWorld Design.
7.5 out of 10
Check out this 7-page preview of ‘Faithless’ #1, including a variant cover by Lee Bermejo, courtesy of BOOM! Studios: