"Preacher: Volume 1 – Gone to Texas" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Vertigo Comics
Originally published as Preacher #1 - 7
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Steve Dillon
1995, 200 pages
Trade paperback released on March 1st, 1996
There's a cliche that all comic book fans hate when it comes to new of the medium. "Comics aren't just for kids anymore." Comics have never just been for kids. Ever since funny books were first published, people of all ages have been reading them. It's just that a lot of the books were in an all-ages format and there were very few "Rated R" comics. That all changed in the '80s with books like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. About a decade later, Vertigo Comics, a division of DC aimed at the aforementioned older folks reading comics, began publishing Preacher. Garth Ennis, a man from Northern Ireland, took us on a supernatural journey beginning in the Southern US stemming from various aspects of the Christian religion... and it was awesome.
Preacher starts out with Jesse Custer, a man with a heavy set of initials, traveling with ex-girlfriend Tulip and an Irish bloke named Cassidy. The easiest way to describe them would be to say that they've seen some shit. A lot has changed for all of them recently. Jesse, a preacher in a small town, has had his mind invaded by Genesis, the godlike offspring of a demon and an angel. With its occupation of his head, Jesse has received a ton of memories and the Word of God. If used, he can make anyone do whatever he says. Now imagine what would happen if he told you to go fuck yourself. Yeah.
Jesse is picked up while unconscious by Tulip and Cassidy after Tulip shot off a guy's face as part of a botched hit. When he comes to, the three of them begin searching for God Himself. It seems that the big man left his post the moment that Genesis arrived on the scene. Jesse wants to track Him down to find out why. This will be no easy task though. Jesse and his gang is being hunted down by the cops because when he became possessed, the event killed everyone in the town. As if that wasn't enough, Heaven has released the Saint of Killers to clean up the mess that was created when Genesis escaped. If that means that Jesse has to die, then so be it. The Saint is like every badass cowboy from every Western movie you've ever seen and he's indestructible.
All of this may sound convoluted by this point, but I assure you that's not the case. Preacher's story flows wonderfully. Ennis does a great job weaving this tale through the ideology of Christianity and making sense of it in the modern world.
The art by Steve Dillon feels a little dated. Granted the book came out in the mid-90s and things have changed since then, but I've never been a big fan of Dillon's work. This is mostly because 90% of his people look exactly the same. Seriously, if you take different pages and put them up side by side you can't help but notice it. The main characters are shown a little more individuality though. The action scenes and the stuff dealing with the more supernatural element fair a little better.
Preacher is a book that you can give to anyone that's interested in reading comics but hasn't tried anything out yet. It's a gateway book. These seven issues collected here can convince anyone that comics can be a great story-telling medium. Author Joe R. Lansdale really puts it best in his introduction to this volume when he says there is "...only one PREACHER, a tale out of Ireland, dragged through Texas with a bloody hard-on, wrapped in barbed wire and rose thorns. And it's out to get you." If that doesn't get you interested in this book, nothing will.
Click a cover to purchase.
You can currently download issue #1 of Preacher at Vertigo's website.
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