Sunday, April 27, 2008
Word Balloon: Preacher
April's edition of the Word Balloon features another great series from DC Comics Vertigo imprint, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's epic tale Preacher. Spanning 66 issues, as well as a small series of one shots as well as a limited series, Preacher is the story of a man, Jesse Custer, who was raised by a horrible Grandmother and his violent backwater cousins to be a man of God. When he is possessed by a supernatural being called Genesis that kills his entire congregation, he is driven by his own sense of right and wrong to begin a journey to literally find "God." Genesis is a being divided by pure good and pure evil, the offspring of an angel and a demon, that gives Jesse the "Word of God," the ability to command people to do what he says.
Driven by his own sense of right and wrong, his journey to find God, (who fled Heaven after the birth of Genesis) he encounters many strange beings and people, such as the patron Saint of Killer (the Angel of Death) the holy organization The Grail, and his own twisted family. Jesse is joined on his journey by his spurned girlfriend Tulip O'Hare and a hard drinking, hard living vampire named Cassidy.
Writer Ennis and artist Dillon take what is a far reaching concept and blend it into a mix of humor, violence, perversion and insight into the relationship of the religious into today's lifestyles that really works. There is a lot of Preacher that is over the top, but the series is balanced by taking a stark look religion and how we view it today. It continues to look at concepts like the preservation of Christ's bloodline, the importance of messiahs, and even looks back at the impact of Vietnam and the battle between liberal and conservative views. Feminism and America's obsession with celebrity also get deconstructed. Other topics such as drug use, immigration, homelessness, and redemption and responsibility also get analyzed. The series is far reaching in it's topics of appeal.
Preacher takes heavy influence from movies, particularly the westerns of John Wayne, John Ford and Clint Eastwood. The Alamo and Monument Valley serve in the story, and Wayne himself is sort of Jesse's spiritual guide, a conscious for Jesse's journey. The Saint of Killers is almost a direct homage to the films and characters of Eastwood and the movie the Wild Bunch. You can also draw reference to books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which popularized the idea of Christ having children, which also influenced the Da Vinci Code.
Preacher was the first book that really opened my eyes to the quality of independent publishing, despite being published by DC. Books from its Vertigo imprint really carry a different appeal than any other comic being published. Vertigo says that this book is unlike anything else being made. Preacher, along with books like Neil Gaimen's Sandman, really started the modern trend of what comics could achieve. It is a complex series, that I wholeheartedly recommend. Start out with Volume 1 and 2, Gone to Texas and Until the End of The World. That will be enough to hook you until you move onto volume 3, Proud Americans, where the story gets really good. There are currently 9 volumes in print, including Ancient History, collecting all of the one shots and the Saint of Killers mini series.
Preacher has been optioned for both a television series and a movie, and at last check was headed to HBO as an hour long series, with each issue being 1 episode. It will be a very tough series to adapt that could go either way, though I sincerely hope that Ennis has a hand in keeping it true to the series roots.
Check it out, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's magnum opus, Preacher, published by DC Comics/Vertigo.
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