“I’ll love you until the end of the world.”
‘Preacher’ has something. Yes it’s funny, violent, over the top, and has some truly wonderful heroes and villains. But there is a element to it that I just can’t put my finger on. It is it’s own thing and I’ve never read anything like it.
Before I read it I had an idea what it would be; a violent, alternative, edgy comic for people who are too cool for normal comic books. But it’s not like that. It is violent but it backs up it’s “edgy” feel with a lot of heart and really sympathetic characters.
The man character is Jesse Custer, the Preacher of the title. Very early on he ends up with a mysterious religious power inside of him that lets him make people do anything he says. We find out more about his childhood and his family as the comics go on, and Jesse remains very, very cool and likable. There is a Western feel to Jesse, the cool way he smokes his cigarettes or the way he talks. He also sees the ghost(?) of John Wayne throughout this volume as he was a massive fan of the Duke when he was little and this is his way of coping with the horrible trauma he’s suffered. At least that’s how it feels so far.
The other main characters are his friends Tulip and Cassidy, both with their own sets of problems. Tulip is a cool take-no-shit kind of girl and holds her own despite having no powers. Tulip and Jesse used to be a couple before something happened. They were two crazy kids just roaring across the desert, drinking beer and having sex. They are madly in love with one another and this is the crucial relationship in ‘Preacher’ for me.
Cassidy is awesome and I’m not surprised one bit that he is a lot of people’s favourite character. He’s a foul-mouthed Irish vampire who quickly takes a shine to Tulip and Jesse, sticking around to help them out. Most of the jokes come from him, and his bromance with Jesse is endearing.
This volume does establish an overarching plot for the series; Jesse’s search for God, who has quit his job in heaven. There are also a few smaller plots in there too. They deal with Arseface and his scumbag Sheriff father, stop a serial killer and eventually meet Jesse’s family. They are all woven together so it works as one big story. I’m wondering where the comic will go from here, but if it does keep this up with smaller stories every few issues, it’ll still be a hell of a lot of fun. Every smaller plot is memorable. Garth Ennis does an excellent job of quickly establishing these different characters and giving them weird quirks.
The art is gorgeous throughout. The late Steve Dillon spent a lot of time capturing the facial expressions and the emotion of the characters, so it feels real and not exaggerated. Tulip and Jesse really look like they’re in love, or they look like they’re scared for they’re lives. Combined with the story by Ennis, I can’t remember the last time I felt so connected to a group of characters. He captures the creepy backwater hillbilly feel of Angelville as well as the grandeur of the big city, the art enhances the feel of this road trip between friends, as they make they’re way out of Texas.
Overall I loved it. It is unique and feels original from every other comic I’ve read. These first 12 issues do a great job establishing the world if Jesse Custer, and also the heavenly world he’s fighting against. The themes of love and friendship make it a surprisingly human story, and the theological questions make it denser than you’d expect. I can’t wait to read volume 2.
Reviewed by Jack.