Friday, 29 July 2011

The Preacher

The Preacher is wrong on so many levels. The story follows a man possessed by the baby of a demon and an angel on his mission to hold God, who abdicated many years ago, responsible for his crimes. Yep that’s most people offended. For the rest of you, along this journey angels on Earth bugger young children, a lot of men lose their penis, a man named Arseface tells the Church to fuck themselves and the inbred children of Christ eat their own shit. Oh, and the pope is a snorlax. So this certainly isn’t a series for the easily offended.
The heart and soul holding all this together are three fascinating, perfectly defined characters. Jesse Custer (J.C, geddit?) was a man of the cloth who learns the truth and earns the voice of Almighty, allowing him to command anyone to do anything. He’s very much based on the protagonists of old Westerns and is a southern hero through and through. He has a strong moral code and is a fantastic charmer, however his back story is just about the most tragic evil thing committed to paper in a really dark book that puts an “interesting” spin on his character. The love interest, Tulip is every bit the female counterpart to Jesse and the inevitable relationship between the two is touching and done well. Finally the tragic, hard drinking Irish vampire Cassidy, who’s complex character is easily one of the best fictional arches I can think of.
For all the preposterousness the plot boils down to a road trip/chase across America with real heart. The art and writing both make the U.S.A a perfect, warts and all back drop to this adventure. There’s kind of an updated patriotism here that’s highly infectious; the series drips in the mythos (read, not history) and geography of the vast country while introducing a huge amount of characters that pick up on everything going on in the 90’s from grunge to Texans to religion and civil rights.
The books certainly revel in the gore and sex, which is done exceptionally, but there’s an odd kind of maturity to it all. Nothing can really be taken on face value and its message; that faith and hypocrisy are very different things, is put across delicately along this epic. This isn’t an atheist book, but it unflinchingly pulls Christianity and exaggerates it’s situation in order to take swinging blows at it’s less savoury practises.
I feel I have sold this one poorly. It’s very difficult to put across exactly what this is, so I’ll sum up briefly. The Preacher is an action series with so much more folded in, there’s horror and romance and tragedy. Garth Ennis fantastically eeks out the drama while the heart and maturity stops this being purely a shock fest. Second to only the Sandman, this is the legendary Vertigo publishers shining baby and while it may seem too messy or violent to get into that’s purely because of my description. This is a fantastic example of what proper, grown up graphic novels can accomplish and if you aren’t going to be offended this is well worth your time.
The comics have been published in 9 books, which is how I read them. My local library have them available on order, which is a good way to get them as the full series costs a small fortune to buy. The series is also available as e-books and comics work great on tablets if you have one. 

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