Hello! Welcome to the space on the internet where Carl Randers, Jack Stevens, and I get together and discuss a comic that we recently read. I like to call it ‘Comic Relief‘! Last time, we gushed about our enjoyment of All-New Captain America Vol. 1: Hydra Ascendant, written by Rick Remender with art by Stuart Immonen and this time we’re discussing Preacher Book One, written by Garth Ennis with art by Steve Dillon.
I’ll just come right out of the gate with a big spoiler for the blog you are about to read: we did NOT enjoy this book. That said, I’ll try to give it the fair introduction that I give the rest of the books. According to the official synopsis, the story of Preacher goes like this: ‘Merging with a bizarre spiritual force called Genesis, Texan Preacher Jesse Custer becomes completely disillusioned with the beliefs that he had dedicated his entire life to. Now possessing the power of “the word,” an ability to make people do whatever he utters, Custer begins a violent and riotous journey across the country. Joined by his gun-toting girlfriend Tulip and the hard drinking Irish vampire Cassidy, the Preacher loses faith in both man and God as he witnesses dark atrocities and improbable calamities during his exploration of America.’
Randers: So I hated Preacher… and every time I thought things were taking a turn for the interesting, it veered back into the grotesque and seemingly self-masturbatory violence.
Nick: I had a similar experience. I went back and forth on it so much. I’m fine with the violence, it was the unnecessary use of things like racial slurs, deformities, and kink just to be “edgy” that really kept turning me off.
Randers: “Stephen King has said that his comic book series The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born was influenced by Preacher. IGN declared Preacher the third-greatest Vertigo comic, after Saga of the Swamp Thing and Sandman. Jesse Custer was ranked the 11th Greatest Comic Book Character by Empire magazine. The Saint of Killers was ranked at number 42 on the same list.” People REALLY like this book and I can’t for the life of me understand why… Ok, it came out in 1995. “It was a different time then.” Height of the attitude era for wrestling, South Park, Jerry Springer, shock jocks on the radio. I get why it exists. If you just told me the premise, I’d be all in. Wayward preacher with the power of “the word of god” and his misfit friends are on a mission to have words with the big guy. Sounds dope. This was NOT that.
Nick: Exactly. Similar concept to the Korean comic ‘Priest’ (one of my favorites). It’s hard to mess up a western gunslinger with religious overtones. To your point, maybe I would’ve enjoyed it more if I had read it when I was a teenager? It at least kept me curious enough to read all the way through.
Randers: I thought Arseface and the inbred family were HIGHLY offensive. Like almost made me put the book down in protest.
Nick: Arseface was my first “I’m super not okay with this” moment. I almost put the book down there too. By the time I got to the inbred family, I was in the mindset of “we’re almost done, let’s just get through it.”
Jack: I also greatly disliked it. I genuinely thought the art style was pretty interesting, but that’s like the one nice thing I can say. Everything that happened felt disconnected, which really bothered me. No one thing ever really tied into the next one thing. The vampire dude dies early, and for no real apparent reason, and is completely meaningless? Over the top crude and unnecessary, seemingly just for the sake of it. They also never REALLY describe his powers. What all he can do, why he can, and why he sometimes can’t.
Randers: I think his family was SO evil that the word of god was powerless on them until he was fully committed. And there also seemed to be some sort of evil/Faustian pact between his grandma and a mysterious figure, right? Also, I was so greatly disappointed when we got homegirl’s backstory… all that mystery and it was just she ALMOST became an assassin!?!
Jack: Yeah, I feel like a lot of stuff was implied, but never verified. To me, It didn’t feel open to interpretation, it felt lazy and non-committal.
Randers: I’d be curious to see if the show tightens things up and makes it more palatable. But yeah, Jesse gets mad because Tulip thought about killing a dude. Maaaaan… what woman hasn’t. But I guess that’s looking at it from a 2021 lens.
Nick: Yeah, I’d also be curious what the show tweaks, but probably not enough to ever watch it. To Jack’s point, it definitely felt like it was being figured out as they went. Like they just had the cool concept and figured that would be enough to get them through.
Randers: I thought the whole civil unrest/war in heaven was an interesting idea but then that just got dropped. But like I said, even then when they got to Louisiana and his home, I thought ok. Shifting gears to like a backwoods crime mob situation. I’m into this idea, but then it got gross FAST. And I checked out. All of this to say, it’s a shame because this was one of the few full collections we’ve read beyond like a 4-issue sampler. There was a lot of room to get into things and it just turned into a chore. Like after reading “Youth,” I need a palette cleanser.
Jack: Yeah same. This is perhaps the first one that felt like an actual obligation. Too long, and without any reason.
Nick: Yeah a real shame. I had such high hopes going in and it really let me down.
That’s all folks!
As a reminder, we try to pick comics that are easily accessible (both to get ahold of and to understand) so anything we read is available through ComiXology (which is owned by Amazon, just FYI), both Marvel and DC have their own digital comic sources, or you can support your local comic shop by picking up a hardcopy (I highly recommend Destiny City Comics in Tacoma, WA, who ship anywhere) so feel free to follow along and chime in with your thoughts, feelings, concerns, or considerations in the comments!
Next time on Comic Relief, we will be reading: Skyward, Vol. 1: My Low-G Life, written by Joe Henderson, with art by Lee Garbett.
Continue the conversation on social media:
Carl Randers: @FantasticDork
Jack Stevens: @Jackstandsup