Monday, April 20, 2015

The Tithe #1 - A Review

For the past several months, a hacktivist group known as Samaritan had been robbing mega-churches' bank accounts and donating the money to small, local charities. Now, with their latest heist, they've stepped up their game, robbing the churches physically while leaving behind evidence of the church leaders' moral and legal misdeeds. Two FBI agents - one a company man and devout Baptist and the other a white-hat hacker who doesn't believe in much of anything - have been assigned to the case, charged to bring down Samaritan at any cost. But whose cause is the righteous one?

Matt Hawkins' conceit for this series couldn't be more timely. Hawkins makes his own religious and political leanings clear enough in his afterword to this first issue but the story itself is not quite so clear as to where our sympathies should lie, save that they should not rest with the money-changers who have taken over the temples. Both FBI agents - the skeptic and the believer - are presented as men concerned with doing their jobs and following the law, even if they disagree upon Samaritan's ultimate goals and the means used to achieve those ends.

Even Samaritan itself is not entirely presented as a positive entity, with some members being presented as good people trying to fight corruption but others shown as being scornful of religion in general and not just corrupt churches. It's an unexpected bit of moral complexity in what I thought was going to be a simple modern-day Robin Hood story. I hope we'll continue to see this level of writing in the issues to come.

The artwork by Rashan Ekedal serves the story well. Ekedal's style is streamlined but effective, managing a nice balance between complex line work in the close-ups and simplicity in its far shots. And the colors by Bill Farmer are well suited to their respective scenes.

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