R-Rated Reads features the best in Comics and Graphic Novels that you’d normally hide underneath your mattress. Now, what the F%*# are you waiting for!? READ the G@&-D*%$ thing!
Today’s R-Rated read:
Preacher is my favorite comic book. Let’s get that right out there in the beginning. As such, I will do my best to remain objective on the matter of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s masterwork, but if I delve into the realms of unabashed fanboyness, I apologize in advance. The series is vulgar, violent, funny, extremely over-the-top and, to many people, offensive beyond words. It’s magnificent, and it all begins here in Gone to Texas, collecting the first seven issues of the series. Needless to say, it starts with a bang.
This first collection introduces most of the principal cast: Jesse Custer (the titular preacher), his estranged girlfriend Tulip O’Hare and Irish vampire Cassidy. Faithful PoP! readers have seen mention of Cassidy before, but his heartbreaking fall comes much later. We don’t learn too much about the characters in this series, but the seeds are planted for the many gut wrenching reveals to come. Despite some phenomenal character moments and amazing dialogue, the first story here focuses on launching the plot of the series (and rightly so).
Jeese is one day possessed by the entity known as Genesis, the bastard offspring of an angel and a demon. The being is supposedly so all-powerful that God himself ran out on creation once it was birthed. It gives Jesse the Word, the ability to make anyone do anything he tells them to. Literally. Unfortunately, Genesis manifests itself in an explosion that wiped out Jesse’s entire congregation (and pretty much the whole town), putting them on law enforcement’s radar. While dealing with the police, the reunited former lovers and their bloodsucking compatriot also meet the Saint of Killers, as in the actual patron Saint of Killers. The angels unleash him in hopes of containing Genesis. The Saint was a Civil War soldier, and a brutal one at that. He’s an enormous, rugged cowboy, impervious to all gunfire and can fire his own six-shooters faster than you can blink. It’s only the Word that saves our heroes in their first meeting (of which there will be many).
And then there’s Arseface, the young man who is now the perfect son after surviving a suicide attempt imitating Kurt Cobain. His face looks like a butthole, basically. And he is hilarious. I promise. Arseface makes the occasional appearance during the series’ run, but he was born in these first issues. We’ll get to him later.
Once Jesse learns the truth about God, he goes on a quest to find him and use the Word to force him to make good on his creation. God is the ultimate deadbeat dad in Jesse’s eyes, and so his journey to literally find God begins. Jesse is a modern day cowboy. The western theme will be explored extensively in the later issues of the book, but it starts here, for sure. There are some horrifying roadblocks on the way, but the story always comes back to God, and he’s rarely painted in anything remotely resembling a positive light. The controversial subject matter here all but ensures Preacher‘s long development Hell as a film or TV property never ends. Middle America would lose their minds over this thing as a film franchise, but I digress. The point here is the comic, yes?
In the effort of remaining spoiler-free, I won’t go into too much detail. The second story in this volume has the gang meeting up with one of Cassidy’s old buddies who has a bit of a secret. It’s a good enough story, but the meat here is the opener. Steve Dillon’s art has been seen in Garth Ennis’ Punisher run (and currently Jason Aaron’s) and in Wolverine: Origins, among other things. It’s not everyone’s favorite, but he breathes the life into these characters for the entire run of the book (except for the one-shots and spin-offs), and we as comic readers don’t often get that kind of consistency. His style just works with this story and these characters and will make a fan out of you. I can’t recommend Preacher enough if you’re in the market for a great, off-beat comic series. Pick up the trade (now in its bazillionth printing) and check it out. Next time, we’ll look at one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read: Preacher – Until the End of the World.