Samaritan: Veritas #1
By Matt Hawkins, Rahsan Ekedal, Atilio Rojo, and Troy Peteri.
There are a lot of titles amassing under the Edenverse banner at Image, and it is thanks to the creative storytelling that plays on everyday situations with enough emotional pull to keep you intrigued. The newest addition is Samaritan: Veritas, this book follows Samaritan, a Robin-esque fugitive hacker who hacks from the rich and corrupt and gives to the poor and needy. This book reads like a movie, with lots of political intrigue, scandals, and complicated hacker talk that is all swirled amongst a lot of action. All the while, Samaritan makes it look so easy, every reader will think they have what it takes to “give it to the man” as a hacker.
This book does stem from already established characters from previous titles in the Edenverse, but you can still enjoy this book without having read any of those. Writer Hawkins does a good job introducing and ingratiating our beloved hacker from early on. We first encounter Samaritan (aka Samantha Copeland) as she outsmarts the FBI using a laser projection cube. We see what she is capable of, then we see she’s pissed off at the corrupt President of the United States, and it becomes clear where the direction of this series will go. This book does a lot of footwork to build the inevitable confrontation that will go down between Samaritan and President McKitrick. We see both perspectives, the hacker’s and the President’s, and we are left waiting for them to finally come to blows.
Let’s get one thing straight: this book is written by Matt Hawkins, you know, just the President & COO of Top Cow, which is like the one part of Image Robert Kirkman does not own. Hawkins does not need to be writing or developing any new titles for Image, but if he does, you know his 30-plus years of comic book experience has led him to a project he feels is warranted. The characters that are introduced in Samaritan: Veritas #1 feel genuine and authentic. Apart from Samaritan, we get the duty-bound FBI agent Dwayne Campbell who was once friends with Copeland, but his honor to his job lets him become a sympathetic face among the enemy. We also get the slacker genius, David Loren, who designs weapons for an air force think tank, but has deep ties into the weapons seedy black market. All the cool hacker and weapons terminology being thrown around in this book could be real or made up, the majority of readers will never know or bother to fact check. However, just to make him more endeared to readers, Hawkins includes links and testimony to all the cool hacker related things addressed in the book.
The artwork in this book is also beautifully done with art and color from Rojo and letters from Peteri. The art is done with great detail and care; there is a tone of depth to the color as well that gives this book a rich and sophisticated feel. The art differs greatly between current time, flashbacks, and various locations which helps the reader to follow the pace and location of every panel. There are a ton of expressive facial expression in every panel, that really allow the reader to feel involved and attached. The serious, action packed story from Hawkins feels evenly paired with Rojos, who both seem to have watched a lot of Homeland or 24 in preparation for this book. The action is so well paced throughout the character development, that it feels like an action tv show or movie from start to finish.
The cool thing about this book is that it goes places most books do not go; it shows blood and gore when people get shot. There is a particularly gruesome panel that shows all the gooey bits when a guy takes a shot to the head. It’s not off-putting, it feels somehow necessary to remind readers what kind of world Hawkins and Rojo are playing in. From the early parts of the book, we get the impression of how untouchable Samaritan is always being a few steps ahead of her enemies. Seeing the brutality of the people who are pursuing her is needed to remind the readers of what the stakes are. We need to see that her enemies are just as capable as her, or even more so because Samaritan does not kill, while they do. It also gives Rojo some fun panels to play with, showing a kill shot, and also character designing some cool kickass foils to Samaritan. You can see there is a lot of thought put into making these characters who only appear for a few panels feel real, and also kind of likable.
Samaritan: Veritas #1 is a definite read for those who are already fully invested into the Edenverse, but for those of you who may need some coaxing just remember that this book was written by the President of the company. If there is ever a book to take a chance on, it is this one. It has the confidence of a comic pioneer behind it, and the book is tremendous. The art has blockbuster appeal with lots of action, great use of color, and dramatic characters. The art from Rojo is a thing of beauty that only helps to project the action movie quality this story has.