You know that feeling when you read something so ridiculously good that you want to make everyone you know read it too in the hopes of spreading it like a virus? In the recent past friends have infected me with Bonk, and Russell Brand, but possibly the most virulent infection I’ve “suffered” in the last year would be the Preacher series of comics.
An English friend of mine mentioned Preacher to me several years ago. He has a good handle on my taste so I checked to see if we held it at the library (we didn’t) and then promptly forgot about it. Some time later another friend mentioned that she had the whole run at home and I thought I’d read the first one to see if I liked it. In the following weeks I was to make frequent trips to her house, grabbing eight to ten issues at a time, lovingly removing them from and returning them to their mylar bags and generally becoming more and more enraptured by the unfolding tale of a preacher named Jesse Custer.
So what’s so great about Preacher? For a start it’s penned by the irrascible, irreverent, and somewhat foul-mouthed Irishman Garth Ennis (with whom readers of Hellblazer may be familiar). Believe me when I say that this ain’t a comic for kids or the easily offended. Ennis’ characters drink, swear, get into fights, shoot their way out of sticky situations, have sex with the wrong people, and so on. And the main character’s got a beef with God and is on a mission to call him out…John Wayne style. So yeah, Preacher has attitude aplenty.
The story centres around Jesse Custer, a disillusioned preacher living in the backwater town of Annville who becomes possessed by an “entity” named Genesis that just happens to be the bastard offspring of an angel and a demon (of course). As you can imagine “havoc ensues”. Jesse is soon joined on his journey by his angry ex-girlfriend, Tulip O’Hare and an Irish vampire named Cassidy.
If Preacher were a movie (which it might be – Sam Mendes is rumoured to be directing), then it would be part Western, part Road movie, part Tarantino-esque ultra violence, drizzled with a liberal dosing of dark humour and a healthy disrespect for organised religion.
The entire 75 issue series is now available as a series of nine trade paperbacks so start with volume 1, “Gone to Texas” and just see if you don’t become a convert.
Here endeth the sermon.