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Preacher VOL 01: Gone to Texas (Preacher (DC Comics)) Paperback – March 1, 1996
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Here's a book guaranteed to offend a bunch of people, not only because of its profuse profanity and graphic violence, but because it's the epitome of iconoclasm. Like a brutal accident, you can't watch but you can't turn away. The story follows an ex-preacher man, Jesse, who has become disgusted with God's abandoning of His responsibilities. So Jesse starts off into the wilds of Texas with his hitman girlfriend and new best friend (a vampire) to find God so that he can give Him a piece of his mind. Despite its superficial perversity, this book contains what may be the most moral character in mainstream comics. A cult hit in the making. Fans of Quentin Tarantino take note.
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[Be advised: there are some very minor spoilers--just some mentions to subjects touched upon in the comic.]
A simple glance of any of the comics from this series reveals some beautiful and detailed artwork scattered throughout. This calling card of the series is one of my favorite aspects and adds depth to the work without creating any story or using any words.
The attitude that Ennis employs in Gone to Texas is funny yet sticks to the subject matter. His use of traditional Christian religious ideals not only makes the work more accessible to the audience, but also frames the story that we are reading. Christianity is indeed a huge part of the main character's life (being a preacher himself), and Ennis builds upon this to create his own machinations: the angel hierarchy, Genesis, and the God that wasn't there since creation.
But of course one cannot talk of religion without suspending reality and accepting the paranormal. Accordingly, Ennis employs a slew of other absurd characters, including a Scottish vampire, a fictitious persona of John Wayne, and others, a list that only grows in size as the series continues into other comics.
As the title mentions, the story does not start with a bang or lift one off one's feet. I guess this is bound to happen with any first in a series as it has to set up as much as it can without boring the reader. In this, Ennis performs well, moving the story along without bogging us down in too many details. I will admit that the story and the writing especially get hokey at times and almost stopped me from reading. But, after you get desensitized to some of Ennis' writing quirks, the comic is really enjoyable.
All I can say is it is a good series that only continues to get better with each issue. Raunchy, fun, and occult, if you are looking for starting something new or get into a longer series, this is a good one. It's definitely worth buying especially considering how great the artwork looks. The panel by panel isn't more than average, but those full page spreads are just so darn detailed. Good story, too.
The story, on the other hand, seemed very clumsy to me. The format of the characters sitting together discussing the events in flashback form seemed very exposition-y. I'll be honest, this is coming from me after having already watched the TV show, so that may be influencing my opinion.
That said, I've been trying to catch up on those Vertigo titles that have won numerous awards. Preacher was a title I'd never read but kept hearing good things about, so I figured I should give it a try. It's written by Garth Ennis and primarily drawn by Steve Dillon.
You know how you'll be eating out with a friend and they'll tell you their food tastes horrible, then ask you to taste it, and you actually do because you have a morbid curiosity as to how bad it actually tastes? That's Preacher.
As far as I can gather from the first volume, Preacher focuses on a man of the cloth who is empowered with a force from Heaven. Unfortunately, this preacher was losing his faith and when he finds out that God has deserted his post, he means to confront the Big Man on the matter using the same power that escaped Heaven and made its home within the wayward preacher. Helping him with his quest are his ex-girlfriend, Tulip, and an Irish vampire named Cassidy. How does an Irish vampire fit into all this? No idea.
I'm a little mixed-up with this series, because while I found it offensive on almost every conceivable level, I couldn't put it down. I'm a big proponent of free speech, but literally almost every other word in this volume was profanity. It got kind of old. Also, the violence was rampant, and after several pages in a row of people having body parts blown off, I got feeling a little wearied. However, like a car wreck, I couldn't look away.
So did I like it or not? I kind of liked it, but I'm ashamed to admit that. I don't plan on reading it anymore, though, because I want to save my money and pick up other Vertigo titles that have a little more artistic integrity. I will grant Ennis this--he created some very memorable characters.
~Scott William Foley, author of Souls Triumphant