Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 at 1:00 pm
The Tithe #1 Co-Created and Written by Matt Hawkins
Co-Created and Art by Rahsan Ekedal
Colors by Bill Farmer
Letters by Troy Peteri
Covers by Rahsan Ekedal, Betsy Gonia Image Comics
Release Date: April 15, 2015
Cover Price: $3.99
It’s interesting the way life seems to create coincidences. Take this comic book, The Tithe #1, for instance. I was just yesterday speaking with friends regarding the way some televangelists seem hellbent on bilking their viewers for every cent they have. Not to say ALL of them are like this, but there have been a notable few that have been caught and (somewhat) prosecuted for their crimes. Well, this comic spins in a slightly different direction.
Prefacing with an ironic quote from Jim Bakker, our story begins in a church on a typical Sunday in California. What seems like just another mega-church singing and giving praise quickly turns into a crime scene, albeit with few people noticing immediately. For you see, a covert group actually perpetrated an almost perfect robbery.
Calling themselves Samaritan (which I think would have made a cooler title for this series), this group has been targeting corrupt churches and hacking their financial institutions in order to route the money to charities that they feel deserve the income more. But the FBI are hot on their heels, returning the stolen funds even as the victimized churches are being investigated. And though the hackers taunt the agents in charge with their anonymity, the real chase has yet to begin. There’s a slight bit of tension between the agents Campbell and Miller, the former being a devout Christian and the latter being more skeptical. But regardless of their personal feelings on the matter, they work together to bring these cyber criminals turned burglars to justice.
The overall feeling of this comic is very anti-religious. Or maybe I should say it’s critical of the way some church leaders mishandle the tithes and donations. The story isn’t complex, but what it lacks in uniqueness it more than makes up for in dialogue. Matt Hawkins endows the Samaritan group with a distinct Robin Hood vibe that doesn’t come off as counterfeit. They genuinely seem concerned with telling people the truth and righting wrongs, though they are going about it incorrectly. And the FBI on the case are aware of it all but must pursue the criminals regardless. The one true downside to this comic was that Rahsan Ekedal‘s art is serviceable, but doesn’t seem to have any pizzazz or flare that would make it stand out. It supports the script but that’s about it. I’ve seen some of his other work and this doesn’t quite measure up, sadly.
I got a kick out of reading the first issue of this series. Is it going to change my life or alter my perception of the universe? No. But it does have some interesting opinions to share and it doesn’t hold back. I like that it’s balanced in that Campbell is unwavering in his faith, in spite of the way his partner perceives religion. I think the story will play out to be less of a good versus evil and more of a lesson in culpability. Because even though it seems Samaritan is trying to do good, their illegal activities make them just as guilty as the people they are attempting to bring down. In this story, I do not believe the end justifies the means. But for a mere four bucks, you are welcome to make your own decision! I’m on the fence as to whether I would recommend this, so I’ll leave it in your hands.