Who or What is Samaritan X?!

In Nothing Was Delivered, we look at announced comic book projects that never came about. We'll try to find out WHY they didn't come out. I'm sure you all know tons of examples of comic book projects like these, so feel free to write me at brianc@cbr.com to tell me some for future columns.

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Terry M., we look at J. Michael Straczynski's DC Comics graphic novel, "Samaritan X".

CBR had the exclusive on Straczynski's new graphic novel for DC Comics back in 2010. He described it as follows:

Starting with a graphic novel and a potential regular monthly series thereafter, the book is about the Samaritan X Hospital, based in Gotham, which specializes in individuals with super-powers. At its core, it’s a human drama set against the backdrop of super-human characters from the DC Universe, where the skills of ordinary men and women may mean life or death for the strongest among us.

Samaritan X is as impressive outside as it is inside: a twenty-story gleaming glass and steel tower with two landing platforms on the roof, bullet-proof glass three inches thick, a staff of the best and the brightest in a variety of disciplines, and every high-tech, cutting-edge medical, scientific and diagnostic tool ever created, all in service to an area of specialization, and a clientele, that is utterly unique.

In a world where super-powered individuals fight a never-ending battle against evil, Samaritan X is where those wounded on either side of that struggle come to be treated and saved. Within its walls the essential human drama of life and death is made even more intense by its application to those whom the world calls heroes or villains, the celebrated and the vilified, the nearly immortal and the previously invulnerable.

(It being a Gotham City hospital is why I went with a banner image of a Gotham City hospital, from the classic John Byrne/Jim Aparo issue where Batman seemingly is killed)

Straczynski followed by describing the cast of the book:

Our main human character is Dr. Francis Long, Chief of Staff of the hospital that he helped to found. Samaritan X was his dream. Twenty years ago, he was called in to treat a beautiful hero known as Lady Eternal, whose abilities began spinning out of control, threatening to kill her. He risked his life to save hers, and succeeded.

That first rescue inspired Francis to begin putting together a hospital that would specialize in Powers. As such, he functions as the hospital’s prime cheerleader, its public face at times of controversy, and its chief critic when things aren’t going well. He is enthusiastic, excitable, brilliant, eccentric, and the bane of anyone not as smart or driven as himself.

In the aftermath, as Lady Eternal recuperated, they fell in love. They are still in love twenty years later, but that love is becoming increasingly more difficult, because he is aging…but she is not. She will forever be eternally youthful. But she loves him just as much now as then, and that in her eyes he is also eternally young.

They must keep their relationship secret from the rest of the world for his safety, forcing her to come to him at night, in the shadows, when no one is around.

Other characters include:

Dr. Steven Montoya, an emergency room doctor who is often the very first doctor to see an incoming powered character or a civilian wounded in battle. Before the specialists can get their hands on the wounded patient, Montoya is on the front lines trying to figure out how to keep them alive long enough to get the kind of treatment they’ll need in the long term. Because there’s no way to know what kind of character will be brought in next, the emergency room is equipped with every imaginable kind of device, packing all the hardware and power that might become necessary: diamond saws that can chew through armor to find torn flesh beneath, titanium clamps to strap down arms capable of toppling whole buildings, lead walls to contain projections of heat, cold, or radiation, and isolation rooms that allow him to use mechanical arms to conduct delicate operations on even the most dangerous super-powered characters. He sometimes has to be as much mechanic as physician.

Dr. Felix Rose, who specializes in understanding how these powers work. More scientist than physician, he is often pressed into service on the more extreme cases. He’s all about the science, with very little in the way of bedside manner, looking on the super-powered characters more as projects than as people. He’s curious about where these powers come from, how they function, why some get it and others don’t, and what can be done against them if there’s a need to take them down.

Sandra Lin and Lionel Parks, paramedics who risk life and limb by going into the midst of a major fight in order to retrieve fallen heroes. They’re good friends, drinking buddies who are not involved with one another. Lin is from Hong Kong, while Lionel is from the Bronx. Their dreams and points of origin differ greatly but their passion for danger and saving lives is equal.

And then there’s Corinne Clark, a psychiatrist and counselor at Samaritan X who works with the community of super-powered characters and their family members. Her job includes helping newly discovered or badly injured heroes and their families cope with their situation. Because there are some things that can’t be fixed by medicine: the character who learns one day that he will never fly again…another who at the age of 17 has just found that she has powers and will never be normal, never fit in…and a third who has dedicated his life to saving others, and must now cope with the knowledge that there’s nothing that can be done to save his life.

Each of these characters has their own specialty, but also their own agenda…and some of those may not be quite what we think it is at first glance.

A year later, Straczynski told CBR that he still planned on doing the project:

“Yep, still happening. But there’s not much to say. I’ve been putting all of my efforts into getting the next volume of ‘Superman: Earth One’ out the door, and it’s now pretty much done, drawn and inked and we’re starting the color, making a few small additions here and there to flesh out some things. We set the bar really freaking high on this next volume, so it’s been a slow, meticulous process of getting everything right. Now that it’s done, I have one other project to finish for DC, then I can turn my full attention to ‘Samaritan X.'”

That was in December of 2011, but clearly the then newly-launched "New 52" ultimately delayed it too long and the project was dropped (just like Phil Jimenez's "JLA/Transformers").

Hopefully Straczynski comes back to the project in the future. It sounded like a good idea!

Thanks to Terry for the suggestion!

If anyone else has an announced project that never materialized that they'd like to learn more about, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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