3 out of 5
I’m happy as Hell to be able to explore Rennie’s comic history, as a lot of it is scattered across 2000 A.D., and from that collector standpoint, it’s awesome to get to check out a collected edition of his first work for that publication – Missionary Man. A Wild West counterpart to his other early work, White Trash, the initial appearances of the character also share a similar notable artistic partner – Frank Quitely in this case – as well as the spotted expansion of and to a character which could otherwise be a one-off badass cowboy riff. Unlike White Trash, though, Rennie doesn’t get to dig in as deep here, and Quitely’s widescreen style – while absolutely notable – doesn’t actually add as much flavor as Martin Emond did to Trash. It looks cool, and that this is an odd corner of the Judge Dreddverse gives it a fun sci-fi flavor, but besides their one main arc (after which the trade is named), the stories collected here don’t do much with the character besides have him show up and shoot some people. You can quip that that’s all Dredd does, but he’s an actually defined character with an entire world backing him up; the Missionary Man – Preacher Cain – wanders along the generally empty desert of Tex Cit’s outer territories. Rennie dangles the concept of him being the Biblical Cain before us, and Bad Moon Rising has him squaring off an alien version of Satan, but these are just high level aspects. Show up, shoot. That he’s seemingly invincible doesn’t help to establish any stakes, either.
The book looks fantastic between Quitely and Simon Davis – the latter actually looking closer to Emond than Bisely at this point (who, yeah, was heavily influenced by Bisely), and being a pretty short trade, the lack of depth isn’t a killer – you’re done reading before you can start to complain to much – especially if you’re looking to fill up a Rennie collection as I am. But for the curious, or those with memories of reading the character in the Meg, I think there are much richer spins on this basic style out there.