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Published on April 16th, 2015 | by Noel Thorne

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The Tithe #1 Review

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Tony Alamo, Ted Haggard, Terry Hornbuckle, Gilbert Deya, Jim Bakker (who’s quoted at the start), Douglas Goodman: just a handful of real-life disgraced pastors of mega-churches whose crimes ranged from drug abuse to child abuse and several other non-Christian activities, not to mention hypocrisy (though some might argue the latter is typical Christian behaviour). Then there’s the Catholic Church and its centuries of hidden crimes for which priests and nuns were shielded by the power of the Pope, while its victims were ignored. Ah, Christianity, where would we be without you? Probably better off and more advanced, but there we go!

The Tithe is a revenge fantasy where a hacker group called Samaritan are set on bringing down corrupt Christian mega-churches and their charlatan preachers. This first issue kicks things off with a bang as an armed trio of Samaritans – wearing Christ on the cross masks – stage a raid on a mega-church which is secretly hoarding their flock’s cash in a vault and spending it on themselves. This is just the beginning of Samaritan’s campaign – but what’s their ultimate goal?

The Tithe #1 is a very entertaining action/heist-type story in the same vein as movies like Inside Man or The Town. Our anti-heroes go in, pull off a daring robbery, and make it away with the loot and maximum humiliation for the deserving church’s pastor. Given just how many leaders of mega-churches turn out to be frauds, it’s satisfying to see this one get his comeuppance on giant screens in front of their congregation!

It’s after Samaritan exit and the Feds enter the story where we see the flip side to all the Christian-bashing as Jimmy Miller, a smug non-believer agent, mocks his partner’s belief in the most obnoxious ways. I’m non-religious but listening to an atheist bang on insistently about how silly all religions are in Dawkins mimicry is just as abrasive as hearing a preacher testify that Jesus is the one true path, etc. Dwayne Campbell, the believer agent, comes off much better as a quietly dignified man who says that religion happens to work for him but it’s not for everyone. So we get a more-or-less balanced look at attitudes about modern-day Christianity in this comic.

All of which is to say I’m not sure where the series is headed because, as is shown in this issue, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, people will believe what they want to believe. Regardless of Samaritan’s actions, the mega-church will continue, perhaps with a reduced flock, but onwards it goes, its members already telling themselves that what they saw was faked somehow. So what is Samaritan’s aim? Be contemporary Robin Hoods, robbing the rich and giving to the poor? That doesn’t work either as the Feds trace the money and reclaim it. I’m hoping Matt Hawkins has a better story than a purely nihilistic one that just rails against the church, but it speaks well of the comic that the curiosity to find out is there.

Rahsan Ekedal’s art and Bill Farmer’s colours are fine in this issue – it’s neither unique nor terrible – but nothing stands out especially. It efficiently adapts Hawkins’ script so the focus is always on the story and the writing rather than the visuals, though that in itself could be praised as the goal of good comics art.

The Tithe #1 is an entertaining and easy-to-follow heist thriller. It’s not a ground-breaking or layered comic but it tells a decent story well and is as fun as any of the better cops ‘n’ robbers tales out there. Well worth checking out.

 the-tithe-1-cover

Publisher: Image

Writer: Matt Hawkins

Artist: Rahsan Ekedal

Colourist: Bill Farmer

Noel Thorne

Probably reading comics as you're reading this.

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