Comic Review: Preacher: Book One

Published: 1995-1996
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 351 Pages

Review:

Over the years, I’ve read several different story arcs from the Preacher comic book series. But never have I started from the beginning and tried to read the series in its entirety.

I’ve only read the second story arc that makes up this first book. So getting into the earliest Preacher issues was a real treat.

This kicks things off with a bang and for fans of the television show, the beginning of the comic is vastly different, even if there are some similarities.

As dark as the show is, this is bleaker, meaner and has a harder edge than anything that they can put on television, especially in 2019 where everything is deemed “too offensive”.

In fact, this is ’90s comics at its peak. But this was also from an era were Vertigo wasn’t complete shit. Say what you will about ’90s comics, good or bad, but this is one of the titles that defines the best parts of that decade. Everything in the ’90s was “extreme” and this encapsulates that like no other comic except for maybe some bootleg and outlaw comics of the time.

But this doesn’t feel like it’s a gimmick that didn’t age well, it feels genuine and authentic. That’s probably why it has stood the test of time.

Garth Ennis was on his A game right out of the gate and his fantastic writing is greatly enhanced by Steve Dillon’s art on every page, as well as Glenn Fabry’s stupendous covers.

Preacher is a perfect storm of hardcore, extreme, edgy boi shit and I mean that complimentary. It’s a product of its time and the culture around it. While I’m sure that is off putting to some, like easily offended snowflakes in 2019, this is still a comic series with merit and a lot of emotional turmoil that the reader can relate to despite how dark this world is.

It also examines a lot of religious taboos and criticism in a creative and exploratory way. As someone that grew up in a really religious environment, some of this was uncomfortable for me to read the first time but in retrospect, it’s good that it challenges these ideals and asks what the point to it all is.

Preacher is not a comic series for everyone. I can see where it would push away certain sects on the right side and left side of the political spectrum. For those of us in the middle, who want some of the answers to life’s mysteries, it’s a cool exploration into that backed up by badass characters doing badass things and killing off scumbags that deserve it.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Comic Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Published: May 20th, 2015 – August 5th, 2015
Written by: Nico Lathouris, Mark Sexton, George Miller (story)
Art by: Peter Pound
Based on: Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris

Vertigo Comics, DC Comics, 151 Pages

Review:

Typically, movie adaptation comics aren’t very good. Sometimes one will surprise you. But I guess that this one is unique in that it isn’t an actual adaptation of Mad Max: Fury Road but is instead, an anthology prequel that follows some of the main characters, establishing their backstories before the events of the film.

Also, these stories come from George Miller himself. Now I’m not sure how involved he was with this, as he could’ve written a very detailed outline or this could have just been taken from his notes when he wrote the film. Either way, the finished product is damn good for fans of the movie and the franchise.

This also confirms that this Max is the same Max that Mel Gibson played and that all the films do share continuity. It delves into Max’s previous tales to add context to where the man is by the time Fury Road starts. And with that, his story here also comes with some extra tragedy to help set the stage for Fury Road.

What’s also interesting, is that this comic has ties to the video game continuity, as the big bad from the 2015 game is seen within the pages of this comic and is referred to by name. You even have an understanding of where he stands in the bigger picture alongside Immortan Joe.

The plots of all the stories here are intriguing and I’d say that this is a must read if you want a fuller experience than just what you get with the film. I love added context and none of this seems like it was done just to cash in on the film’s success, as the people behind this cared about the movie and the world its characters inhabit.

I really dug the art style too, as it felt in tune with the movie but also had an older, grittier pulpy feel to it. I liked the muted colors and the high contrast. Emotions were conveyed well on the faces of the characters and while it may feel somewhat understated, it’s pretty damn perfect and gets the job done.

Sadly, I bought and read this digitally, as I was unsure about it. Now that I’ve read it and loved it, I’m going to round up the single floppy issues.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the Mad Max movies, specifically Fury Road. Also, the 2015 Mad Max video game.

Comic Review: Doom Patrol, Vol. 3: Down Paradise Way

Published: 1990-1991
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Richard Case, Kelley Jones

Vertigo Comics, 185 Pages

Review:

While I’ve really enjoyed getting this far into Grant Morrison’s legendary run on Doom Patrol. This volume didn’t hit the mark quite the same way for me. But that could also be due to the luster and newness of this bizarre series starting to run dry.

I wouldn’t say that I’m bored with it but it’s so far out there that the stories are overly fantastical and it is hard trying to ground this in any way that gives it some sort of emotional weight. I like the characters but the proceedings are too surreal, all the time.

The first volume took me by surprise and was so unique that it was hard not to get drawn into it. The second volume brought the Justice League into the mix and it grounded the craziness somewhat, as the well-known DC Comics characters almost became the eyes and ears of the reader.

Here, it’s just Doom Patrol once again, as they are thrown into another dreamlike sequence that isn’t very easy to follow or grasp. I’ve always loved surrealist art but it exists well as its own thing and I dare anyone to try and make a narrative that can string together all the scenes Salvador Dali painted in some sort of coherent way.

Granted, art and the effectiveness of storytelling are all subjective but, at this point, I’m not sure what I’m reading and if there is even any sort of plan with Morrison’s Doom Patrol or if he’s just throwing really colorful shit on the canvas and hoping the reader somehow connects the dots for him.

I like Morrison’s imagination but this was also really early in his career and not as refined as his work would become with more experience. However, this is still a really unique experience and the fact that this exists within the larger DC universe is kind of interesting and sort of cool.

At the end of the day, no one can say that Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol wasn’t ambitious. I just don’t know if this ambition is going to pay off in any meaningful way. But again, that’s subjective and this may speak to a lot of people.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol.

Comic Review: Doom Patrol, Vol. 2: The Painting That Ate Paris

Published: 1989-1990
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Richard Case, John Nyberg

Vertigo Comics, 228 Pages

Review:

I’m really digging the Grant Morrision run on Doom Patrol.

While the first volume was better overall, the first half of this collection was probably the high point for me, thus far. The second half of this is mostly filler and comes off at a slower pace but there are still some things of importance within it.

The first half is the story arc that gives this volume its name: The Painting That Ate Paris. And while the name may sound metaphorical, it isn’t. This is Grant Morrision’s Doom Patrol and a painting literally eats Paris. And with that, the Doom Patrol has to find a way into the painting in an effort to save the city. All the while, the Justice League shows up and stands idly by, staring at the painting, confused by the whole ordeal.

I feel like the Justice League here represents the more casual comic book reader, who would probably be baffled by the insanity, absurdity and surrealism of Morrison fully and creatively unleashed.

Richard Case’s art is some of my favorite from the era and man, it just lures you in and is a perfect compliment to Morrison’s writing. Case’s art is clean, crisp, colorful and fluid. I love his character design and the life his style gives every person in these stories.

This was just a really exciting comic to read. It loses steam with the second half but it is still entertaining and serves to setup what’s to come after this.

If you’ve never given Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol a shot, you really should. It’s a superhero team book but it is so unique that you really should experience it.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol.

Comic Review: Doom Patrol, Vol. 1: Crawling From the Wreckage

Published: 1989
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Richard Case

Vertigo Comics, 186 Pages

Review:

I knew all about Doom Patrol back when Grant Morrison was writing it in the very late ’80s and into the ’90s. It’s something that the older, cooler kids talked about but I was more into Batman and Spider-Man at the time, as comic books were still kind of new to me and I hadn’t yet expanded too much beyond that.

Over time, I collected a few issues of Morrison’s run but I never completed it and never actually read a full story arc. I’m trying to rectify that now, as I want to better understand these characters with the Doom Patrol television show starting in a few weeks on DC Universe.

I can’t quite say that this is a legendary comic book run, as I need to read Morrison’s entire Doom Patrol catalog but this is certainly off to a very solid start.

Morrison does a fine job of throwing characters at you and finding something within them that allows him to connect with the audience. I cared about every character in this story and I really hope that maintains as I get deeper into this series.

This serves to set up Morrison’s take on Doom Patrol. Even though I don’t know what happened before his first issue, it is very clear that this is a new group, forming out of the ashes of whatever happened to the previous one and even if you don’t know what their motivation is, you care enough to stick with this and find out.

I only hope that this run has a definitive start middle and end and doesn’t just sort of limp forward without any real follow through, which is a trap that so many new creators fall into.

Solid storytelling, really nice, robust art from Richard Case and all around, this was a really engaging and entertaining introduction to what is considered one of the high points of late’80s/early ’90s comics.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol.

Comic Review: Preacher: Crusaders

Published: October 31st, 1996 – March 31st, 1997
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 156 Pages

Review:

Since I just finished Preacher‘s third season, I am really happy because the show is in a spot that I remember really fondly from the comics: the six-part Crusaders story arc.

No longer owning the Preacher comics I had in the ’90s, as they were lost somewhere along the years and after several moves, I had to round up these issues again. Luckily, my local comic shop had all six issues and in pristine condition, I might add.

It was great revisiting this series and if you haven’t read the comics but are a fan of the show, you can jump right into this story and know where you are. It has some of the stuff from the back end of season three in it and it also goes into what I assume will be the early parts of season four. Ultimately, this is just a badass chapter in the long epic that is this superb series.

Cassidy, the vampire, is captured by Herr Starr and his minions. Jesse has to leave Tulip behind as he goes on an insane mission to rescue Cassidy from The Grail’s fortress. We meet the Allfather, get to learn about the angel that is imprisoned with Cassidy (seen in the season three finale of the show), get some awesome action when the Saint of Killers takes on The Grail in their stronghold and get to see Starr in all his evil greatness.

As much as I like the show, I still love the comic and this just made me realize that I need to give the entire series a revisit.

Garth Ennis was on his A-game here but any fan of comics from the ’90s knows about how great this series was. Steve Dillon’s art still looks incredible and frankly, I wish more comic books had even half of the style that Dillon did here. I also love the Glenn Fabry covers and some of them have become so iconic over time that I may frame a few of these issues.

Preacher is an exceptionally great comic book. Even with a television show, there are just too many people that haven’t delved into the source material. It’s fucked up, twisted and delightful.

For fans of the series, this arc is a high point and ’90s comic book perfection.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: The other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

TV Review: Preacher (2016- )

Original Run: May 22nd, 2016 – current
Created by: Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Preacher by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon
Music by: Dave Porter
Cast: Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Lucy Griffiths, W. Earl Brown, Derek Wilson, Ian Colletti, Tom Brooke, Anatol Yusef, Graham McTavish, Pip Torrens, Noah Taylor, Julie Ann Emery, Jackie Earle Haley

Woodbridge Productions, Short Drive Entertainment, Point Grey, Original Film, Kickstart Productions, KFL Nightsky Productions, AMC Studios, Sony Pictures Television, 23 Episodes (so far), 42-65 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Preacher was a comic book series a lot of my friends have talked about for years. I never read it, actually, but I have always wanted to. After seeing the show, now two seasons into its run, I definitely want to pick up the comic series much sooner than later, even if I am two decades too late.

The show stars the always perfect Dominic Cooper. It also stars Oscar nominated actress Ruth Negga and the super entertaining Joseph Gilgun, as an Irish vampire. The show actually reunites Negga and Gilgun, who both starred in the awesome British show Misfits. Well, maybe not a real reuniting, as they were on that show a season apart.

One of the most surprising things about Preacher, when I first heard about it, was that it was being developed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. AMC did feel like the perfect home for this show though, due to how well it has handled another little comic book property, The Walking Dead.

Preacher follows a preacher who has a special power. He is able to use his voice to force people to do his bidding. He is joined by his crazy ex-girlfriend (Negga) and his new vampire sidekick (Gilgun). Initially, the show takes place in a small Texas town and pits Jesse Custer, the preacher, against an evil and psychotic villain, played by Jackie Earle Haley. Jesse discovers that God is missing, his hometown is destroyed and season two sees our trio head to New Orleans in search of God.

While The Walking Dead pushed the envelope of what you can show on television to new levels, Preacher pushes it even further. This is a really dark show. Dark to the point where even regular viewers of The Walking Dead might feel uncomfortable with Preacher. In fact, I’m not sure how this can exist and not be something that has to be on HBO, Showtime or Starz.

Overall, the show is pretty damn good. Sometimes it feels a bit drawn out, which is its only real weakness. The thing is, Preacher is so unique and bizarre that you’re never really sure where each episode will end up. As of now, it looks as if each season will have its own unique theme and environment. From what I’ve seen thus far, it doesn’t seem like it will be a show that will get stale or trapped in redundancy.

Preacher boasts some of the best actors on television and each season brings in other veteran actors with talent to match. Negga truly is an Oscar caliber performer but Cooper and Gilgun are right there with her from scene to scene.

Preacher is a show with serious gravitas but it isn’t for everyone. I can’t imagine that it could have a large audience, which is why it is such a unique experience and its existence in its current format, a bit puzzling. But over the years, television seems to be getting better and smarter as motion pictures continue to be dumbed down to the point that most are unwatchable.

This is a show that feels fresh and new and brings something to the table that no one has seen before. It doesn’t hurt that it is also a top quality effort by everyone involved, at every level.