Preacher (comics)

From Academic Kids

Preacher is a comic book created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, published by the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics, with painted covers by Glenn Fabry.

It tells the story of Jesse Custer, a down-and-out preacher in a small Texas town, who becomes possessed by the supernatural creature "Genesis" in an incident which kills his congregation and flattens his church. Genesis turns out to be the product of the unauthorized coupling of an angel and a demon, which, while having little will of its own, might have powers to rival that of God himself. Custer goes on a journey across the US to discover the truth about his new powers, as well as about God (who abandoned Heaven the moment Genesis was born). He is joined by his old girlfriend Tulip O'Hare, as well as a hard-drinking Irish vampire named Cassidy. During the course of their journeys, the three encounter enemies and obstacles both supernatural and worldly, including the Saint of Killers, an invincible assassin answering only to the authority of God himself; The Grail, a secret organization controlling the governments of the world and protecting the bloodline of Jesus; fallen angels; and Jesse's own redneck family.

Preacher is notable mainly for its extremely strong character building and its focus on storytelling, the handling of religious and supernatural themes in an unapologetic way (which many may find objectionable), the extremely dark (and frequently violent) humor, and the wide range of influences from outside comics. In particular, Preacher draws on western movies for many of the stylistic elements (and openly acknowledges it - an apparition of John Wayne is a recurring character which serves as a sort of spiritual guide for Jesse Custer). The Grail organization is a clever reference to the conspiracy theories presented in the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

Additionally, the series is characterized by an examination of American identity and ideals in the modern age, both on a personal level, where old-fashioned southern "Cowboy" ethics and attitudes meet modern feminism, sexuality and society, and on a collective level, through stories about the Vietnam war, corporatism, racism, and other social issues. This contrast is most explicitly shown through Martha Moore and Ulysses Gett, a far-left feminist professor and far-right radio talk show host, respectively. Throughout the series, they face off on television and radio, each time delivering hilariously over-the-top dialogue: Gett starts off a talk about a nuclear explosion by claiming it's not the fault of the American taxpayer, while Moore blames "our whole phallocentric approach to society". Another powerful symbol is Arseface, a teenager who attempts suicide and merely ends up destroying his face. In the later issues, Arseface goes through a sped-up cycle of American fame: underground sensation to popular star to lawsuit bait and target of censorship. In the end, his manager takes all his money. Ennis and Dillon are Irish and English respectively, not American, and their outsider perspective makes their observations particularly sharp.

The series spanned more than 60 monthly issues, including several specials and a Saint of Killers mini-series, and has been collected in nine trade editions. The final issue, number 66, was published in July 2000.

Trade Summary

(All art by Steve Dillon, unless otherwise noted.)

  1. Gone to Texas (collects issues 1-7)
    • Reverend Jesse Custer, a tough Texas preacher who's lost his faith, is possessed by a mysterious entity called Genesis -- a consciousless force whose power may rival that of God Himself. Through a bizarre series of events, Jesse learns that the Lord God has left Heaven and abandoned His responsibilities. Armed with his newfound power, Jesse sets out on a quest to find God and make Him answer for Himself.
      Accompanying Jesse on his journey are Tulip O'Hare, Jesse's former girlfriend and One True Love, and Cassidy, a 100-year-old Irish vampire who seems to prefer a pint in the pub to the blood of the innocent.
      Meanwhile in Heaven, a quorum of angels trying desperately to keep things from falling apart decides to send the Saint of Killers -- an immortal, unstoppable killing machine -- to Earth with orders to recapture Genesis at any cost.
  2. Until the End of the World (collects issues 8-17)
    • In the emotionally intense "All in the Family," Jesse's secret past is revealed as he is forced to confront his family and the horrible childhood he's been running from his entire life.
    • In "Hunters," Jesse and Co. travel west to San Francisco, where they run afoul of the world's most famous pervert, a pair of "sexual investigators," and The Grail -- an ancient and immensely powerful religious conspiracy that wants to use Jesse's power to bring about Armageddon. The Grail is personified by a sadistic German military expert known only as "Herr Starr" (who serves as the series' primary villain).
  3. Proud Americans (collects issues 18-26)
    • Jesse and Tulip journey to France to rescue Cassidy from the Grail's heavily-guarded secret fortress, where Cassidy is being held and tortured by Herr Starr. The Saint of Killers follows them, and all Hell breaks loose.
      Upon their return to the States, a grateful Cassidy tells Jesse his life's story: how he fought in the Irish Civil War, how he was killed and turned into a vampire, and how he began his long love affair with New York City.
  4. Ancient History (collects the Saint of Killers miniseries, plus Preacher Special: The Story of You-Know-Who and Preacher Special: The Good Old Boys)
    • In the four-part "Saint of Killers" story, we learn who the Saint was before he died -- and exactly why he was given the job. (art by Steve Pugh)
    • "The Story of You-Know-Who" (so-called because DC would not allow the word "arse" to be used on the cover) recounts the events that led up to Arseface's attempted suicide. (art by Richard Case)
    • "The Good Old Boys" is a twisted satire of 1980s action movies, starring none other than Jody and T.C. from the "All in the Family" storyline. (art by Carlos Ezquerra)
  5. Dixie Fried (collects issues 27-33 and Preacher Special: Blood and Whiskey)
    • "Blood and Whiskey" is a tale of Cassidy's past; the story of the only time Cassidy ever met another vampire.
    • In "Dixie Fried," our heroes arrive in New Orleans, where an old friend of Cassidy's -- who just happens to be a voodoo priest -- may be able to help Jesse unlock the secrets locked deep within Genesis.
  6. War in the Sun (collects issues 34-40 and Preacher Special: One Man's War)
    • In "One Man's War," we learn exactly what kind of man Herr Starr is, where he came from, and how he got involved in the Grail conspiracy. (art by Peter Snejberg)
    • In "War in the Sun," Starr's lust for revenge reaches its roof-peak with a massive military assault in Monument Valley, Utah. Starr comes prepared with an entire armored division, but is all that hardware really enough to stop the Saint?
  7. Salvation (collects issues 41-50)
    • Presumed dead and feeling betrayed by both his true love and his best friend, Jesse abandons his quest and takes a job as a lawman in the tiny town of Salvation, Texas -- where a figure from his past suddenly reemerges.
  8. All Hell's A-Coming (collects issues 51-58 and Preacher Special: Tall in the Saddle)
    • Tulip finally escapes from the self-destructive spiral she's been in since Jesse's "death". Jesse and Tulip are reunited, and Jesse learns just how much of a bastard his buddy Cassidy really is.
    • "Tall in the Saddle" is a tale of Jesse and Tulip's wild early years.
  9. Alamo (collects issues 59-66)
    • Everything comes to a head, deep in the heart of Texas: Jesse hatches an ingenious scheme to finally put an end to his quest; Starr gives up on his plans for Jesse, and decides to just kill him instead; Jesse has his final confrontation with Cassidy outside the walls of the Alamo; Tulip shows everyone exactly what she's made of; and the Saint finally finds what he's been looking for.

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