While I continue to procrastinate about my uni set text list which I really should be at least 4 books into, I continue my brief sojourns into comic book/ graphic novel world. That way I don't commit to a novel while I should be reading the list, fooling myself that I am not irredeemably putting off the uni books. Confused? Well, it works for me.
And so to Preacher: Gone to Texas, which should have the subtitle "Puritans need not apply". Angels, left in charge while God goes absent, accidentally lose Genesis, a unquantifiable being that appears to carry God's power. Jesse Cutler, a swearing, drinking, whoring Reverend, one day merges with Genesis and becomes a mortal man with the power of God. The frightening Seraphin, by way of pressuring the angels, set the Killer of Sinners on Jesse's tail to reclaim Genesis. Jesse is set on a journey to find God - this time quite literally - and give him back his powers. Accompanying Jesse are his old gun-toting girlfriend and an Irish vampire called Cassidy.
The artwork is standard fare - colourful, well-drawn, modern traditional - not sketchy at all, which is my pet hate. Plenty of orange/brown hues make up the landscape of Texas. But the story is inspired, and it is horrifyingly violent and gruesome. In a subplot, a serial killer is torturing people for the sheer hell of it - in rather inventive ways too. It ain't pretty and some of the artwork/dialogue requires a strong stomach. All comic book stuff though and I've got to say I enjoyed every minute. This is the first in a 9 part series, and honestly, I can't wait to get stuck in.
The second outing of Preacher, by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Steve Dillon, with Glenn Fabry's wonderful cover and full-plates within.
This book goes back to Jesse's life when he was younger and fills in the time when he left Tulip, alluded to in the first book Gone to Texas. We meet Jesse's dysfunctional family - and I mean 'dysfunctional' in the Texas Chainsaw, Hills Have Eyes kind of way. The family is headed up by Miss Marie L'Angelle, Jesses grandma, who is evil incarnate, and quite frankly Dillon's drawing of her is enough to wound the readers. We also meet Jody - Jesse's cousin - and Marie's loyal, violent henchman.
Meanwhile in other stories in this book the Saint of Killers is still on Jesse's tail. A tail which finds itself embroiled in the latest Cassidy caper involving a Marquis De Sade-like character called Jesus De Sade. Thrown into the mix is an investigator called Starr, a violent man with a penchant for 'experienced' whores who works for a company determined to kidnap Jesse and harness his 'voice of God'.
This series, so far, is pretty much as much fun as you can have in comic land. Yes, it is violent, graphic, sexual, and gruesome, and can out-swear your local hoodie - but hell, are they fun. I greedily devour the novel, then turn back immediately to devour it again. With three more editions currently winging their way from Amazon to my door, I will be happily steeped in Custer-land once more.
The third volume of this wonderfully violent and funny comic. It picks up pretty much where Until the End of the World left off: Cassidy has been taken hostage by the Grail, who think that he is Jesse. Jesse ditches Tulip to go rescue Cassidy. Starr, the psychotic do-all of the Grail, has other plans and employs an Italian Mafioso to torture Cassidy. Meanwhile, the Saint of Killers tracks down Jesse to the Grail headquarters and is about unleash hell on all in his path. Amusingly, Starr also comes to realise something about his sexuality.
Ennis and Dillon really, for me, can do no wrong with this series. The artwork and dialogue go perfectly hand-in-hand to create one of the most enjoyable comic books around. Not for the faint-hearted at all; the violence is gruesome, bloody and gratuitous; the swearing is over the top and employed on every panel. I love it.
I was a bit dubious from this outing which breaks from the Preacher storyline. First of all,...it breaks from the Preacher storyline, Jesse ain't even on the cover. Second, Steve Dillon isn't the artist this time out. We are told in the introduction that he is busy working on the normal Preacher comics. Would I enjoy this as much? Preacher - himself as a character - is pretty much intrinsic to my enjoyment of these comics.
In this edition, we are given 3 stories each providing a little back-story for some of the peripheral characters. Not so much a why-they-are-the-way-they-are in all three cases. In fact, only the first story Saint of Killers is that type of tale.
Saint of Killers, relates the tale of...Saint of Killers, who in the Preacher storyline, is sent by heaven/hell to track down Jesse and kill him, thereby retrieving the voice of God. Already a man with a huge body count against his name, acquired during the American Civil War, he finally marries and settles down, has a child. Now, as in all good Westerns, this happy moment doesn't hang about too long, and Saint of Killers is back on the road to reap vengeance. Ultimately, we find out how he became the Saint of Killers.
The Story Of You-Know-Who, is about Ass-face, and how he came to be. We first met Ass-face in the first outing; the son of the sadistic cop after Jesse et al who had the oddest facial disfigurement after a suicide gone wrong. So, this little story tells the tale of how that suicide came about. It's really rather a sad tale with a bittersweet end.
The Good Ol' Boys, is a silly little tale, telling us nothing much we didn't know about the characters of Jody and T.C, Jesse's redneck, psychotic, bestial cousins. That description makes them sound laughable, but actually, Jody is probably the most terrifying thing you could encounter in comicbook-world. I could relate the plotline of this tale to you - but it is so ludicrous, I couldn't do it justice. Suffice to say it's violent, improbable, and cliched. But damn, is it fun.
Whilst I enjoyed all three tales - and the artwork is just dandy, I didn't miss Dillon as much as I thought - the first tale is the most accomplished. It's a great Western - one that could stand up to the best - translated into comics, and the Saint of Killers is a wonderful character. You can't go wrong.
The Boys is set in a world where Superheroes aren't as clean living and wholesome as you'd hope. Some are clumsy, causing more damage than good; Others are just plain bad and prone to abusing their powers for their own ends. This is where The Boys come in: a government endorsed team whose job is to keep rogue superheroes under control. Their methods include surveillance, intimidation and violence.
Volume 1 sees The Boys reformed after previously disbanding, and the recruitment of Wee Hughie (apparently the only man in Scotland who still uses the term 'Jings') into their squad after his girlfriend is horrifically killed by a 'supe'. We are also given a weary view of The Seven, the world's number 1 superhero team and The Boys put their skills to use (in typical brutal Ennis style) against another team known as Teenage Kix. Darick Robertson provides the artwork, which is suitably drawn and coloured, and in some scenes perhaps a little too graphic.
Garth Ennis claimed this series was going to 'Out-Preacher Preacher', and volume 1 is certainly rife with his mix of outrageous violence, sex, foul language, action and black humour. The whole superhero gone bad / under control / registration theme is one that has been done before, but for me this is the first time Superheroes have been given a really dark and ugly side. Its not surprising DC dropped this series early in it's run (several of its more popular heroes are heavily lampooned). Fortunately Dynamite picked it up and kept it in publication. This is as OTT as you can imagine, but its incredibly funny and wildly enjoyable so if you're a fan of Preacher / Garth Ennis, this is probably for you.