A heist story unlike any before! Mega-churches are being robbed for millions of dollars by a crusader hacker group known as Samaritan who is giving the money to causes they deem more worthy. This modern day “Robin Hood” is being pursued by two FBI agents who actually admire their quarry but want to stop the theft before it escalates.
Image Comics (Top Cow)
In the time of the internet, taking sides has never been easier, moderation being a word seemingly forgotten in the rush to be seen as right. Even then, any arguments are usually shallow on both sides, invoking the worst possible scenario for dramatic effect and rarely wanting to listen and learn.
What makes The Tithe different is that, despite the setup, the comic seems to be attempting to have a mature discussion about Faith in the US at the moment. Set around a country wide FBI investigation into a string of armed robberies of churches, that are perceived to have been robbing their congregations, our main characters straddle both sides of the debate but have interesting wrinkles to them.
Agent Dwayne Campbell and his younger sidekick, the tech-savvy Agent Jimmy Miller, are our eyes into the world and with them I’m guessing their discussions will form the centre of the debate. Campbell is the older, more seasoned agent and a Christian, but not a blind one, having fallen victim to a church leader who absconded with his congregations’ money in the past. Miller meanwhile, holds a grudging respect for the hacker group turned robbers Samaritan, and though he’s disdainful of what has become of religion in the US, with its Mega Churches and semi-pyramid schemes, the comic doesn’t necessarily agree with his views wholeheartedly.
If these two are the moral grey of the debate, then on the outskirts of these are the extremes – Pastor Miles Tibbett is a charismatic but seemingly unrepentant con-man, whilst Samaritan don’t seem to be doing what they do out of a need to help the people being fleeced (the word ‘Sheeple’*, used by various members), but to prove a point.
I think what makes the series work so well is that writer Matt Hawkins is an ex man of faith himself and as such can see both sides of the argument, even if he’s no longer a Christian himself. His written afterward describing his experiences was a high point of the comic for me and I look forward to seeing if each issue follows up with another of them.
Artwork wise, well it’s basic but effective. Though Farmer’s colours do at times invoke an unintended a level of artificiality to a comic that is meant to be set in the ‘real world’. However for the church scenes, with it’s gaudy nature that seems completely unnatural to my English eyes, it works perfectly.
Overall, the first issue sets up an interesting opening argument in what may prove to be 2015’s most mature discussion of faith. Let’s see what the following issues contain.
Derogatory term indicating that the user believes the group being addressed are easily lead and will believe anything, either due to lack of individual strength of will or intelligence. International sign of the douchbag.
Cover image courtesy of Image Comics
The Tithe #1 is available from Image Comics