Faith’s playful interest in magic is considered a harmless quirk among her social set but when a seeming chance coffee shop encounter with the mysterious Poppy leads to a passionate affair it becomes clear that she has latent and powerful mystical abilities that she was unaware of. As her relationship with Poppy grows she finds herself part of a whole new arty city set and becomes slowly seduced by the brooding presence of Poppy’s father. But, while Faith finds herself enticed by her new social circle, disturbing things are happening to her old friends…
Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Maria Llovet’s first Faithless story arc was recently collected by BOOM! Studios and provides a curious mix of urban drama and demonic manipulation. There’s an intense feeling of fatalism about Faithless that sees its protagonist swept away by events, almost a passenger in her own narrative as she is toyed with by external forces that treat her like an existential plaything. Azzarello provides a tense character piece that has an indistinct yet inescapable aura of inevitability to it.
There’s something hypnotic and alluring about Faith’s gradual descent into Poppy and her father’s supernaturally charged environment; one which is brought to vivid life by Llovet’s visuals, effectively merging the trivialities of everyday city life with the incongruities of nightmarish horror. It’s a perfect reflection of the duality of the story and its disturbing contrast of the dreamlike and the recognisable, with Llovet’s shifting hues changing mood and atmosphere where appropriate. Sex and death seem inextricably linked throughout with the explicit love scenes slipping into frequent motifs of body horror and decay.
Where some may not find Faithless so satisfying is in its vagueness and ambiguity. Motivations are elusive and the specifics of the book’s antagonists and their purpose remain loose and undefined at this point. In six issues we learn very little about the story’s players beyond the immediacy of their relationships with one another. Still, there are enough hints at a bigger picture to keep the audience hooked for a second volume and that ominous sense of foreboding at this arc’s end will stay with the reader long after they have finished reading.
Brian Azzarello (W), Maria Llovet (A), AndWorld Design (L) • BOOM! Studios
Review by Andy Oliver