Preacher: Book One
Written by: Garth Ennis
Illustrated by: Steve Dillon (Pencils), Matt Hollingsworth, (Colors)
Collecting: Preacher #’s 1-12, hardcover $39.99, trade paperback $19.99
Before I began I would like to acknowledge the incredible lateness with which this review comes. Preacher first came out in 1995. I was five years-old then. I barely knew how to read, never mind operate a word processor with the capability of buying stuff like this from within the comfort of my own home. Now I can. This review is for anyone else who may have heard great things about Preacher and are looking for that final push to try it out. Or for those interested in wearing Bob Marley’s face.
The book follows Jesse Custer, a former preacher-man who inherits the Word of God (think Jedi Mind Trick capable of causing genocide), Tulip O’Hare, a once scorned lover of Jesse’s with a complicated past, and Cassidy, the charismatic Irish vampire, as they travel creation to find God and make him answer for the daily horrors that befall his people.
I’ve never had much interest in the subject of theology, especially Christian theology, and my general knowledge of it is based off of typical western media consumption. That being said, the story itself is very well written. For the reasons above, I didn’t much care for the first story arc, but the following two drifted away from biblical themes and focused on the trio of anti-heroes. Ennis fleshed out the characters spectacularly, and provided a particularly poignant look at Jesse and the who, whats and whys of the character. There’s also a western theme permeating throughout the book, comfortably grounding the ambitious religious concept.
My only previous experience with Steve Dillon’s work was his recent stint with Thunderbolts, a series I found to be aesthetically unpleasant. Luckily, Dillon panel-for-panel matches the tone of Preacher, as the visuals are gritty, detailed and more than willing to get ugly. Full disclosure; blood and gore aren’t really my thing. Especially in comics. Outside of Kick-Ass and Fables, few of the comics I read contain much red gruesomeness. I am now willing to add Preacher to this list.
The characters are what drove the book for me. Over the course of the 12 issues I came to pull for Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy. Most telling, however, is unlike characters from other books, I don’t really want to see them escape from a situation clean. I don’t want an arc to end neatly all tied-up with a bow. These are messed up characters scraping by in a ridiculously messed up world, and I would like it to continue as such.