By Mike Carron
64 gaping head wounds.
One nuclear bomb.
One possessed preacher.
These are all elements in Garth Ennis’ Preacher comic book series. The series, which started in 1995 and finished last year, has been collected into eight trade paperback collections. This May, the final trade paperback collection will be released. The comic has drawn rave reviews and is well known within comic circles. Preacher is a great blend of black humour, sex, violence and religious philosophy.
The series focuses on Jesse Custer, a preacher from Texas who becomes sick and tired of the losers in his small-town congregation. One Sunday, everything changes when an entity called Genesis, spawned from the union of an angel and a demon, enters his body. He wakes from the wreckage to find his old girlfriend saving him–and everyone else dead. Custer’s life is forever changed from this day.
Custer now has the ability to speak the word of God. He also learns that God has quit and left heaven. Custer decides it is his mission to find God and hold him accountable for what he has done to the human race. He girlfriend, Tulip O’Hare, and Cassidy, an Irish vampire who becomes his best friend, join him on his mission. They run into the Saint of Killers who has been sent by heaven to kill Jesse. The Grail, a powerful group that control most of the political power in the world and who maintain the pure bloodline of Christ in order to bring forward the new messiah, is out to get Jesse. There is also a wide range of people who aid and hinder Custer in his search for God. And then there’s Arseface, a suicide survivor who vows to kill Custer for the death of his father.
Every character in Preacher is interestingly developed and all add to the story line. Ennis does not fill his pages with characters that distract from the story. The interesting plot lines created by the abundant cast of characters keeps the story fresh and interesting.
One of the more interesting features of the series is the side stories that give readers the past lives of the more interesting characters. Book 4, "Ancient History," tells three stories: the origin of the Saint Killers, the creation of Arseface and the early days of Jody and T.C., two people from Jesse’s childhood. Each tale is just as intricate and well-thought out as the main story line and gives readers some insight into the minds of some of the secondary characters. Cassidy is another character whose story is just as interesting as the rest of the comic. His stories give insight into his arrival in America and his life just previous to meeting Tulip and eventually Jesse Custer.
As well, the art in the comics is amazing. Glen Fabry’s cover art and Steve Dillon’s interior art give the comic a great look and the images match the feeling of the words perfectly. Dillon’s attention to detail makes every frame a wonder to look at. Every page is intricately drawn, making the comic a joy to read. You cannot read this comic quickly. To really appreciate Preacher you have to pay attention to the little details that make the story come alive.