Horrorible Review: “Preacher, Book 1”

Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!

Preacher graphic novel cover for book 1

Preacher, Book 1

A few years ago Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon released a relentlessly violent and profane comic book on the world.  By profane I don’t mean simply in a dirty language kinda way, though the language in this graphic novel is astoundingly potty mouth, but in the manner of dealing with God and seraphim and adephim.  John Wayne appears as well.

The story winds around in time and place, and teases you with bits and pieces of the backstory like a maddeningly leaky faucet, but it never gets boring.  There’s too much over the top violence for the story to ever bore anyone, plus there is simply no way to figure out where the story is headed so you have to just go with the flow and let it take you along. We begin in Texas and then find ourselves in an odd story that doesn’t seem to fit at all with the beginning section.  People who were reading this serially must have had quite a sore neck from the hard right turn.  When taken as a whole, though, everything fits snuggly together and is quite compelling, if you don’t mind reading about people who make misogynists seem warm and fuzzy.

The titular character, Reverend Jesse Custer has an interesting name that intimates first a popular (despite his violence) outlaw and last a doomed leader, in this book of the religious rather than military sort.  His close allies are ex-girlfriend Tulip, who really really really wants to know why he disappeared so suddenly from her life five years before and why she finds him now wearing a white collar.  Tulip is no shrinking violet and holds her own against the many and super violent foes confronting them.  Unfortunately, she’s also the only one of the trinity without a super power.  Cassidy, who you can tell is different almost from the start when he shrugs off getting shot through the head is an Irish vampire atypical in nearly every way, from not being sexy to not having fangs.

Frequently violent, always gory and sometimes horrific story lines are depicted in the colorful and detailed artwork in panels that breathe life into the action.  I’m not a huge fan of most modern comic art, which often crosses a line into sterile over-over two-shot “action”.  While Preacher isn’t in the same category as, say, classic Kirby, it’s still better than a lot of comics that have come out since its end in the year 2000.

Fans of the comic have long dreamed of seeing this series live action, and on May 22nd of this year they will get their wish.  I have seen both a trailer for the series and an action sequence recently released that shows Tulip fighting for her life in a speeding car.  The trailer looked good, but the quick flashes of action and settings plus the bit of Jesse dialogue has me wondering how much like the comic the tv show will be.  AMC, the company that produces The Walking Dead  is Preacher’s host, and as most people are aware The Walking Dead comic is often just a suggestion for what happens onscreen in the series. That doesn’t bother me too much as I consider the show a slight improvement over the comic, but I like Preacher despite it’s being one of the most violent and vulgar books I’ve ever read, way beyond simply sticking a knife through a zombie face in loving closeup. There’s no way AMC can translate this level of violence.

AMC is also good at converting the comic book look to screen, which you see now and then on The Walking Dead, though not so much lately. There is evidence from the two trailers that AMC will lean more heavily on the comic origin of the story for Preacher.  In the series trailer there are several quick clips that have a comic look about them, and the actors faces in both trailers seem to show more elasticity than typical tv.  But it’s the Tulip trailer that shows us a lengthier and stronger example. The sequence takes place in a car careening through a cornfield while she fights for her life in the back seat. In an overhead shot the car creates a wavy black path through the deep green field describing in a deceptively simple way how out of control the situation is and it looks very much like a comic panel.  If they can keep that up Preacher might become popular.  The American public has already shown they like their AMC shows violent.  We’ll see if they can stomach vulgar and profane on top of it.

I recommend this book if you don’t mind your graphic novels on the rough side.  (Seriously, really rough.) The plot is engrossing, the art is handsome and the characters compelling.  If you do decide to give this a try, you’ve got until May the 22nd to do a compare and contrast.

LINKS:

World Premiere Trailer: Preacher

PREACHER SEASON 1 – PROMO CLIP “MEET TULIP”

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