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Preacher VOL 04: Ancient History Paperback – March 1, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
Book 4 of 9 in the Preacher Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

While technically the fourth book in the Preacher series, Ancient History isn't part of the main Preacher story line and doesn't even use any of the main characters (Reverend Jesse Custer, his girlfriend, Tulip, and his vampire buddy Cassidy). Instead, this collection of side stories delves into the freakish, perverse, and downright mythic supporting characters. The main feature is the 106-page demonic Western featuring the "Saint of Killers." In many ways this guy--and the spirit of the ruthless frontier he represents--is the soul of the Preacher series. Writer Garth Ennis said, taking all of the characters of the series into account, "I felt one more character was needed to round out the cast: someone who would directly represent the Old West, who had walked straight out of history, and who brought with him the horror and terror of those times." If this is the soul of the book, then its heart is the "Story of You Know Who," a reference to the character Arseface, whose self-imposed shotgun wound to the face has left him rather disfigured. This boy's abusive family is so overblown, his tragedy so all-encompassing, that a lesser writer would let this swerve into complete silliness. Ennis's talent is to pull pathos out of such outrageousness. He succeeds here again. --Jim Pascoe

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Product Details

  • Series: Preacher (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo; Cmc edition (March 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156389405X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563894053
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.5 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In an interesting diversion from the story that "The Preacher" has been looping back and forth through, Mr. Garth has decided to give us three stories focusing on minor characters in the series. Only one of the three disappointed me. In "Gone To Texas" we met Arseface, and although his situation was grotesque, it always carried some degree of twisted, twisted humor. However, with "The Story of You-Know-Who", Ennis removes all traces of humor, stripping away his trademark irony to show us a truly depressing, somehow unoriginal and after-school-special-like origin of his strange monster. But, even if though I was disappointed by this story, I couldn't say enough about the other two. The Origin of the Saint of Killers is astonishing. We finally get an intense, sad, strange, gorgeous explanation for the presence of this creature. And there are moments in it (such as the saint turning his guns on a certain, very powerful fellow) that are some of the finest of the "The Preacher" thus far. And then, after two very depressing, low key tales, we are given "The Good Old Boys", one of the funniest comics I have ever read. It's enough that Ennis takes us back to the Bayou, where we meet the ugly, fish-loving cousins from book 1. But, somehow, he got the idea to suddenly invade their swamp with characters from some terrible, direct to video action film. I don't mean that the characters are shallow or stupid. They actually scream lines like "I'm a cop with a dangerous secret!" Ennis takes these living cliche's, and then throws them into the muck with two men we know to be sicker than any within a thousand miles. The result is truly disgusting and really quite brilliant. Ennis is a real life artist. I can't wait for the next one.
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Format: Paperback
Whilst the ongoing adventures of Texas Preacher Jesse Custer and the strange world of violence and supernatural happenings is consistently witty, intelligent and shocking, writer Garth Ennis really shows his ingenuity and flexibility with this collection of spin-offs from this superb series.
"Saint Of Killers" follows the origin of Jesse's most powerful and terrifying enemy yet. This four-part story explains how a mean-spirited bounty hunter became an immortal one-man kill machine. A superb, compelling and disturbing story of a man who was so mean that hell had to spit him out.
"The Good Old Boys" Displays a few days in the extraordirinary lives of Jesse's sick, twisted and thoroughly unpleasant uncles out in the swamps of Texas. It's a wonderfully clever and witty (and bloody and gory...) spoof of all those OTT action movies, starring two of the comic's most enduring characters.
Finally, "The Story of You-Know-Who" is much darker fare. No vampires, no angels, no demons nor cowboys, just the backstory of the poor disfigured teenager called "Arseface" and the terrible chain of events which led to his attempted suicide. A bit of a shock to the system if you read "Good Old Boys" first.
A superb spin-off collection which, despite losing Steve Dillon's superb artwork, is a must-have for anyone with a strong stomach and a taste for dark humour.
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Format: Paperback
The extingencies of deadlines often force comic publishers to farm out a couple issues to backup artists in order to give the main crew a break and time to catchup on the main storyline. This represents such a collection of stories.
A different set of artists is used for each story. (In one story about the Saint of Killers - the backup artist couldn't meet the deadline and a backup-backup artist had to be called in to finish the story!).
The stories vary in quality - particularly in the drawing and coloring. The plots concern background information about the Saint of Killers and Arse-face. Whereas the main Preacher storyline is brilliant, this particular collection is just average.
I recommend buying it if, like me, you have to own every Preacher graphic novel. If you are not so obsessive, then rest assured that you can continue to enjoy the Preacher series without reading this collection.
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Format: Paperback
As some of the longer graphic novel series are wont to do at times (see Sandman, for example), Ennis introduces a `break' to the Preacher arc with "Ancient History," temporarily halting plot development and placing several Preacher characters outside the timeline. "Ancient History" contains two origin stories, one of Saint of All Killers and one of Arseface, respectively, and a broad-brush satire of the action movie genre, featuring those rapscallion down-home boys, Jody and T.C.
The two origin stories speak to the past pain and anger that the Saint and Arseface experienced, and how these emotions molded their desire to mete out vengeance. Saint is the `simpler' of the two characters. As Ennis himself acknowledges in his excellent Foreward, Saint is the virtual embodiment of the Clint Eastwood movie-western archetype, an innately violent man unable to contain the demons within when the good in him vanishes. Arseface, however, is painted with a subtler brush: a sad and isolated loner whose physiological transformation `triggers' (pardon the pun) a paradoxically sunnier and more violent outlook on life. Note also how Arseface comes to relate and sympathize with the things he most fears. Although these tales are both downers, the book finishes with a rousing send-off, thanks to the fanciful "Good Ole Boys." The unlikeliest of heroes save the day and get the girl, and, er, dog. A bumbling Middle Eastern terrorist who utters a constant stream of scatological malapropisms `leads' the bad guys. People (and animals) are killed, mutilated, and abused. Hilarious, violent, offensive, politically incorrect; in short, Ennis at his crackling best.
For the first time in the series, Dillon is not involved with the art.
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