Series Spotlight – Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
AMC recently announced that with the mighty shoes of Breaking Bad and Mad Men to be filled, they are about to begin development of the sacrilicious DC Vertigo title PREACHER. Preacher is a much revered title, and at the time it and Sandman (also by Vertigo) were among the highest grossing comics worldwide at the time. It centres around Jesse Custer, a Texan minister who is hating the church and hating his congregation, when out of nowhere a celestial being named Genesis needing a host body comes crashing into his church and bonds with him, incinerating the church and all inside. Jesse awakes unharmed, and with a brain full of knowledge about Heaven, and that the Lord has abandoned His children. Jesse vows to track down the Lord Almighty and hold him accountable for the failure of His creation.
As that description suggests, it deals with some very sensitive religious topics which are perhaps even more relevant in today’s world than they were in 1995 when it was first published. Writer Garth Ennis is from Northern Ireland, so is no stranger to religious conflict. He tackles the issues with all the grace and subtlety of a brick wrapped in fine velvet. Artist Steve Dillon has a no-nonsense art style which is completely devoid of bulging muscles, Technicolour and pouches, and draws some of the best facial expressions and diverse characters in the industry. It ran for 66 glorious issues, ending in 2000.
The below will be free of spoilers, as honestly it such a brilliant read that it should be taken in with a virgin mind. The supporting cast are phenomenal and strange. Jesse’s gun-toting ex-girlfriend Tulip is along for this road trip across Creation, along with an alcoholic Irish vampire called Cassidy. Another reoccurring character is the Saint of Killers, who is like the embodiment of a Spaghetti Western Clint Eastwood brought to the modern age, with antique revolvers that never miss and never fail to kill. The gang fall foul of redneck lawmen, a religious order who secretly rule the world and protect the bloodline of Christ, sexual deviants, angels, family members, a serial killer, a man who makes love to meat, a boy with a face that looks like an anus, an Italian hitman with no penis, and host of other bizarre characters.
It’s not all swearing and poultry-molestation, at its heart it’s a sentimental celebration of old fashioned American ideals, as some have described Ennis’ writing of Jesse as “more Texan than actual Texans”. They’re larger than life characters, and there are some truly heart-wrenching moments that pull the heartstrings to the point of snapping. The central romance is one of the greatest told in modern comics bar none. I challenge anyone not to cry reading #66
If AMC can make this even as half as good as the comic, it could be some of the best TV since… Breaking Bad or Mad Men..