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God of Comics – Samaritan: Veritas #3

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 4, 2017

Samaritan: Veritas #3 (Image Comics)

And so ends another chapter in Matt Hawkin’s high stakes political thriller series.

These books have always been about give and take, so the only thing we’re sure of going in is that there won’t be a happy ending. Our hacker heroine was happy to leave the world behind right up until she discovered that the corrupt asshole she’d left the world because of had become President of the United States, creating a kleptocracy as the country went to sleep and burned around him.

Unlike reality, though, in this world, people still care about facts and she reckons that if she can expose his corruption she can smash the power base that he’s built and take down the empire of thieves he’s put in charge of what was the most powerful nation on earth. To that end she came out of retirement, secured funds, hired mercenaries, and has caused every agency in the world to try and hunt her down and kill her.

She knows she’s living on borrowed time. She knows that the assassins are going to get her, that there’s no way out and that even if she wins her life is forfeit. Thing is, corrupt people tend to think only of the con they’re running and maybe the con after that, and when you’re playing on that level you gotta see more than forest or trees.

The world is in danger of falling apart, the American dream dying for the profit of a very few, and only a white-hat hacker is capable of, if not stopping that decline, then at least slowing it down.

It’s funny, too, because this whole thing started with her and some other people robbing mega-churches while wearing Jesus masks, hoping to expose the corruption of those places and how they’ve replaced faith with zealotry. Here, she’s ready to do to save the world from its sins.

Kinda maybe sorta heavy stuff, but that’s what Matt Hawkins does these days. He does it really well, though, and Atilio Rojo’s crisp heavy line work and bright washed colors bring the story home. This – along with the stories leading up to it – are some of the finest examples of real-politick thrillers that you’ll find in the medium. If you like that sort of thing as much as I do then you should be reading this.

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God of Comics – Samaritan: Veritas #2

God Of Comics, Reviews

July 7, 2017

Samaritan: Veritas #2 (Image Comics)

Sometimes, I need to sit back and educate myself. There’s so much that happens in this medium, so many good stories that exist that it’s hard to pay attention to them all and some just slip through the cracks.

One of the reasons we started this whole God of Comics thing in the first place was to showcase some comics that people might otherwise miss, some really good stories that deserve more attention than they get. It’s why we’re so eager to talk about Hexed and Nailbiter and the Woods and Quantum & Woody. These are comics that we feel a lot of people would enjoy, and we know so many people that got lost in the mire of Marvel and DC Comics.

So, this: Matt Hawkins is one of the heavyweight writers over at Image Comics. He’s an excellent human being and excellent conversation at conventions, and we try to make a point of seeing him each year at Emerald City Comic Con. He’s the guy who looked at the Witchblade cosmology and moved that whole world into the future, creating a science-fantasy world that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

He’s also the guy who has been quietly writing his own little world for a number of years now, a high-stakes political thriller that spans multiple titles and deals with a variety of real world issues. Matt is kind enough to have an appendix that explains the story so far, highlights the comics you might want to read those stories in (and you will), and where to find out more about the issues he’s trying to address.

And what issues? Religious and political corruption, mostly. This comic stars a hacker named Sam who went off the grid and gave it up, got out of the political game after exposing a horrible human being for being horrible. Problem is, she then finds out that dude became President of the United States, which is how we know this is fiction. People would never vote for a violent rapist and sociopath with a serial track record of failure and dishonesty.

The president in question is a corporate puppet and she’s out to stop him from destroying America and the world, but she’s literally up against the dominant powers of our era and limited to whatever resources she can get her hands on after a year out of the game. The digital trail is there if you know how to look, but will people care when soundbites and alternative facts are easier to digest than truth?

Doesn’t matter to her – someone has to do something, and she will lay her life on the line to stop a group of selfish men from inflicting a nightmare dystopia that ends in genocide on the world.

If you like the politics of Mr. Robot or the political scheming of House of Cards, you’ll like this.

Atilio Rojo brings some of the best inks and colors you’ll see out of him to this project, and that’s not anything to blow smoke at. The man has a gift and he plays with shading and hue like a madman here, choosing what gets highlighted and what remains in the shadows with a master’s eye.

We typically do these things by week in alphabetical order, but we altered that a bit and threw this comic out last because you’re going to want to read it, you’re going to want the back trades, and you’re going to want to discuss this with people. Go to your local comic book shop, grab those back trades. Take the weekend.

Good hunting.

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God of Comics: Samaritan #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 23, 2017

Samaritan #1 (Image Comics)

Computers and the internet have changed the world.

It’s funny – I remember watching sitcoms in the eighties where computers were likened to a passing trend – I think it was Married… with Children that called computers “the pet rock of the eighties.” The popular opinion was that they were overpriced and useless and I had one and loved it because I could use it to write.

Now, of course, computers are everywhere. Computers and the internet have forced every industry to re-evaluate itself because when people don’t like an industry they will talk about it and there isn’t a lot that those industries can do about. It’s one of the reasons that industry keeps trying to kill the internet: they can’t control this thing that has become vital to life in the modern era, so they try to choke it, kill it, shove the genie back in the bottle.

Another thing that internet has done has given us a growing understanding of things like wage theft and the wage gap and the one percent, the undeserving oligarchy that has been strangling progress and innovation for decades to keep themselves wealthy while the rest of us struggle and die so they can have just a little bit more.

There’s been a number of stories about that struggle, about people realizing how badly they’ve been screwed attempting to fight back: Mr. Robot, Person of Interest, Alif the Unseen, Hacktivist, and others all come to ready mind – stories of people using computer wizardry to strike down their oppressors like the literal wizards of older tales.

Samaritan is the latest story in that vein.

Writer Matt Hawkins plays in a house he is very familiar with, given his prior work on titles like Think Tank and IXth Generation. This is a man that is very comfortable working in both hard science fiction and science magic, often crossing between the two to drive home the core concepts of the stories he tells.

Here, the largest military contractor in the world has crossed the wrong woman, a hacker who has decided that she’s going to bankrupt them for their crimes against humanity. Her plan? Steal all their data and make it open source, giving it away to anyone that wants it and laying their every secret bare before the American Government kills her for exposing their secrets.

I’d say that’s far-fetched, but Chelsea Manning was imprisoned for embarrassing a corporatist regime and Edward Snowden is still on the run for doing the same thing. These two heroes had their lives destroyed for exposing crimes committed to make those aforementioned affluenza-sufferers richer, so… maybe not that far-fetched?

Atilio Rojo dares to illustrate Matt’s fever dream, and the two of them have worked together before on the excellent and underrated Eden’s Fall, which is another comic that you might want to hunt down and read. If Samaritan ends up being even half as good as that title was, we’re in for something special – get in now, because this is going to be awesome.

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