With how I’m still catching up on a lot critically acclaimed comic books outside of Marvel and DC I have also tried to search for new comics that stick out from Image and other comic book publishers. One comic that stood out to me when it was announced was Samaritan: Veritas. The premise of this new series from Matt Hawkins and Atilio Rojo caught my eye right out of the gate as someone tries to take down the US government through her technical ability. That premise along with a striking cover made Samaritan: Veritas #1 a comic that I wanted to check out when it was released. Now Samaritan: Veritas #1 is here and time to see if it’ll be a new addition to my pull list.
Writer: Matt Hawkins
Artist: Atilio Rojo
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The US military carries out a secret mission in Lahore, Pakistan in order to track down a dangerous hacker. The military find the hackers location in an apartment building and a sniper takes his shot. After the shot is taken other military officials look inside the apartment only to find it was just a laser projection of the hacker, whose name is Samantha Copeland, who is also known as Samaritan.
Over inside a government building officials go over how Lahore’s camera could easily be hacked and that they must pull the troops out of the operation immediately. The Director of the FBI, Nick Leonelli, believes Samaritan can’t hide forever.
Elsewhere, Samantha is trying to figure out a way to prove that President Owen McKitrick ordered three terrorist attacks on the United States, which helped him win the election.
Samantha contacts her friend Dwayne Cambell, her dead boyfriend’s former partner who still works as an FBI agent. Dwayne tries to find out where Samantha is. Samantha just says that the government tried to kill her in Lahore but she wasn’t there. She goes on to say that she wants President McKitrick dead as she looks out to the White House from her location.
Fourteen months earlier, Samantha disconnected herself from the world’s technology and started to working at a winery after her boyfriend’s death. Samantha enjoyed her new life until one day during an art class she learned that Owen McKitrick became the President of the United States.
After that Samantha got herself a computer and contacted Dwayne to learn how Owen McKitrick became President. Dwayne says that McKitrick rode God and country into the White House and that Samantha is better off staying off the grid, especially with how busy he is with the Thornton Case. Samantha says she understands and bids Dwayne goodbye.
Samantha next contacts Deity, one of her hacker friends. Deity (real name David Loren) says Samantha has 30 seconds to say what she wants. Samantha says she needs ten million dollars and a referral for a team of mercenaries. Deity says he can give Samantha two percent of the money she is asking for and says she is better off stealing the rest.
Samantha then goes about looking through the dark web to recruit a team of talented mercenaries and plans out her next move to attack the President.
A few weeks later Samantha watches President McKitrick’s close friend Pastor Mark Deneve giving his sermon on God and requesting further pledges to a live audience and TV cameras. After the broadcast is over Pastor Deneve goes back to his dressing room only to find Samantha’s mercenaries waiting for him with his crew already tied up. The mercenaries tie Pastor Deneve up and take him captive inside his own bus.
Inside an isolated container Samantha has one of her mercenaries wake Pastor Deneve up. Samantha quickly gets to her point, revealing that she knows about Pastor Deneve’s private funds and wants his biometric voice phrase and access to his OPT app to get four million dollars out of the account. Pastor Deneve figures out he is speaking with Samaritan and asks why he should give her his information. Samantha says she has enough information on all of Pastor Deneve’s secrets and she will give it to the IRS so he can spend the rest of his life in prison.
Over at the FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, Director Leonelli goes over the details of five recent preachers of President McKitrick’s Coalition For Christian Values who have been kidnapped by Samaritan’s mercenary group, which led to the preachers’ bank accounts being emptied. Dwayne says he can bring things to a peaceful resolution with Samaritan. Director Leonelli knows that Samaritan called Dwayne and they are going to use his connection to her to set up a trap to bring her in.
In Baltimore, Maryland, the mercenaries that Samantha hired offer her a full job on her team with how professional she has been with them. Samantha turns the offer down as her mission is to kill the President and reveal he was responsible for the church bombings. The mercenaries don’t think Samantha has the proof but that is what she is working on getting. Samantha then gives the mercenary group their next job, kidnapping Northlock Industries CEO, Richard Lawton, to find the “why” she is looking for.
In Jakarta, Indonesia, a pair of agents are spying on some guy arguing with his wife in their hotel room. After seeing the guy slap his wife the lead agent gives her partner the go ahead to shoot him. The sniper gets a clean shot through the guy’s head.
A little late the agents grab some drinks and talk about how they both think about settling down eventually. Their talk is cut short as one of them gets a call to give a testimony in DC. The other agent also gets a call for her next target, which turns out to be Samantha.
Over in DC, Samantha has already spent 90 hours trying to sneak past Northlock and Lawton’s security with all she has to show for it is blueprints to Northlock’s headquarters. She pours over the information she does have and decides to look into Lawton’s schedule. She finds out through Lawton’s Twitter account that he is meeting Senator Holden in two days, giving her an idea of what to do next.
Director Leonelli goes over information on Samantha’s case with another FBI agent. She asks the Director who he wants to implicate in Samantha’s murder. Director Leonelli chooses an FBI agent she used to work with and gives her the information of what they have on Samantha so far, including that she is staying in an apartment near Georgetown.
After the agent leaves President McKitrick calls Director Leonelli to say he wants Samantha dead immediately.
Later that night in Plano, Texas, Dwayne is woken up to some noise in his home downstairs. Dwyane goes to check on the noise and finds the agent who has been given the mission to find Samantha eating cereal in his kitchen. End of issue.
The Good: Samaritan: Veritas #1 is a packed first issue for the new series from the minds of Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal. Though this series takes place in Hawkins’ Edenverse, there is enough world building in Samaritan: Veritas #1 to make it feel like it’s own unique thing.
As someone that is new to Hawkins’ Edenverse, which started with Think Tank, I was impressed with how easily it was to comprehend what was going on. Hawkins made sure the focus of Samaritan: Veritas #1 is about creating a compelling world for Samantha Copeland to operate as the Samaritan. Each character that rises up due to Samantha’s actions felt unique and had something to add to the overarching conflict of the series. This is especially important as Hawkins went about showing us the different people that make up the opposition that Samantha is currently facing.
Most importantly Hawkins made sure everything that happened in Samaritan: Veritas #1 amplified who Samantha Copeland is as a character. Right out of the gate Samantha comes off as someone that is not ordinary with how she is constantly thinking ahead of everyone else. At the same time Hawkins does not try to put Samantha over everyone else just because she is the main character of the story.
Instead, we are shown how what makes Samantha special and continuously evade capture is her drive to kill President McKitrick is what is pushing her skills past her current level. That is best shown towards the end when she spends 90 hours trying to hack into two company security systems but only gets minimal information but still figures out a plan on what to do next.
Hawkins smartly uses some time in this issue to get into Samantha’s origin story as we see where she was fourteen months before the events of this issue. That look into what Samantha was doing after the death of her boyfriend perfectly informed us as to who she really is. This peaceful life made the moment Samantha learned that McKitrick became President an even more powerful moment. That trigger helped inform the drive that we see Samantha have throughout the present and past scenes where she is running different operations.
Even without knowing much of the Edenverse, Hawkins was able to give weight into President McKitrick as the main villain of the story. Even though we don’t see him until just before the end of the issue, everything we learn about the new US President makes him sound like the most evil bastard in the world. His short present day appearance only confirmed that with his attitude towards making sure Samantha wasn’t successful in revealing all his plots.
Similarly, the FBI being set up as the direct adversaries that Samantha must overcome to get to President McKitrick was well done. Though they are the antagonist, Hawkins did a good job portraying the FBI as doing their job against a cyber terrorist. Using Samantha’s friend as part of their plans made Dwayne an even more important supporting character. Now with both sides trying to use Dwayne’s connections against each other it places him in a position where we don’t know who he will truly align himself with. Things could easily turn either way for Dwayne as things progress with what Samantha is planning on doing.
Additionally, while she only got a few scenes, Hawkins gave the female agent assigned to tracking and killing Samantha enough of a cool factor to make her an intriguing side character to follow. Her entire presentation makes her feel like a wild card that the FBI is employing. With how the issue ended it’ll be very interesting to see how she uses her interaction with Dwayne to try to find Samantha in future issues.
Atilio Rojo did a very good job bringing the world that Hawkins was looking to bring to life with Samaritan: Veritas #1. Throughout the issue Rojo gets across how seedy everything going on is, as each character involved in Samantha’s plot felt like they had their own motives. Though we don’t get a lot of action sequences the few we do get does show that we could be in store for some cool sequences in the future. For now Rojo did a very good job getting across the various emotions characters go through as the plot of Samaritan: Veritas #1 developed.
The Bad: While it did not affect my enjoyment of the issue, the connection to the Edenverse did feel unnecessary. The few times Hawkins drops references to things that have happened in other comic books felt forced in. As it stands, Samaritan: Veritas #1 does a great job standing on it’s own and does not need to be part of a greater connected universe to feel big.
Though I like Rojo’s artwork there were a few panels were characters looked too shiny, breaking the flow of the story as it Samantha and other characters suddenly looked robotic. There weren’t many instances of this but there were enough of them that it was noticeable in the artwork.
Overall: Samaritan: Veritas #1 does exactly what every first issue of a new comic book should do. Matt Hawkins and Atilio Rojo create a fascinating world with intriguing characters, which is headlined by Samantha Copeland, who stands out as a character who you want to see how she develops. If you are looking for a new non-superhero comic book to pick up I highly recommend purchasing Samaritan: Veritas #1.