I have watched first issues of comics sit on comic shop shelves for weeks on end without so much as a glance from potential patrons. It would be easy to label those comics as simply being bad comics. The logic behind that thinking is sound enough — for decades we have been conditioned to believe that if a comic isn’t selling then it must be lousy. Marvel and DC move the most units every Wednesday so they must produce the best books, right? As we all know by now, this is rarely the case. The first issue of a comic is typically purchased because of curiosity, promotion, and hype. What really makes a comic impressive is its capacity to make people want to purchase issues 2 and 3 afterwards. Good Samaritan #1 is not a poorly written or illustrated comic by any means. However, when it comes to reeling you in for that next issue, Good Samaritan #1 failed to perform for me.
Good Samaritan #1 follows Father Bill Sullivan as he cleans up the streets of Boston circa 1965 in the guise of the super-powered hero Good Samaritan. That is pretty much how this comic starts, with Good Samaritan choking out some bad guys with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a bold move to portray an allegedly honest priest murdering bad guys for some reasons unbeknownst to readers. That would be all fine and well if Father Sullivan’s out-of-costume identity also reflected some inner struggle against his own brutal nature. However, as a regular priest, Father Sullivan is an all around good dude. How weird would it be if Clark Kent was all glasses and shyness, but Superman went around ripping people’s heads off? At their core, every superhero is an extension of their alter ego and vice versa. Father Sullivan is also getting trouble from the new cardinal who happens to wear red tinted glasses and avoids direct sunlight — the telltale signs of a villain. I didn’t have a problem with Good Samaritan #1‘s pacing, but at some point in the story Father Sullivan is accosted and just when things are turning south, the monster just disappears. There are several things in this comic that could have been explained, which would maybe have enticed me to read further issues.
The art of Good Samaritan #1 is an interesting mix of rough unfinished line work and hand shading that is overall visually pleasing. Characters are drawn proportionality accurate and avoid many of the classic pitfalls that come with overly muscular characters in superhero books. With the exception of a few rushed panels, the artwork in Good Samaritan #1 is unique and polished.
To say that Good Samaritan #1 is mediocre would be an unfair generalization. Very little about this book is boring or commonplace. Father Sullivan’s character is interesting in his bi-polar identity swapping and the comic’s villain is fascinating if only for the fact that he is not trying to hide that he is a villain at all. No one seems to understand what having an alter ego really means in this book, which is entertaining enough on its own. However, with all of its eccentricities, Good Samaritan #1 ultimately might not hook you in for the long haul.