3 out of 5
And here’s where I start to get restless with Preacher.
Preacher is certainly a landmark book for many reasons, and it’s also probably the most comprehensive look at all of the things Ennis can do well in comics: his punctuated violence; his juxtaposition of the dregs of humanity with its momentary glimmers of goodness; his appreciation for brotherhood; his love/hate relationship with the world. But… maybe it also rarely does any one thing perfectly. Other titles focus on these elements and sharpen them; Preacher has them all in an appealing stew of easily accessible concepts (as in balanced between the fantastic and grounded) and highly appealing characters.
So when I think of Preacher, I tend to think fondly on The Grail’s downfall – the most tightly scripted aspect of the epic – and then the rest of my thoughts are the cliff’s notes (and the guy having sex with the meat creature, because that scene sort of jumps the shark for me). In other words: I don’t think much about Dixie Fried. It’s a definite runaround in the story – here, Salvation – where Ennis essentially stalls to explore his characters before sending them back on their journey. And while the cliff’s notes version of Cassidy and Jesse’s relationship is a riveting tale of the horrible highs and lows of brotherhood and dumb masculinity, the nitty gritty – the Cassidy focus of these issues – is a little clunky and left-field-added-drama. Dragging our Irish vamp through the mud pays off in the end, but in the meantime, it reads a bit like a soap opera.
Thankfully, Arseface is there to add levity, and the Cassidy one-shot that leads into the issues is a fun jab at vampire lore that feeds really well back into the main storyline.
As per Ennis’ habits, lots of talking heads and (natch) Preaching, as our traveling trio stops in New Orleans to visit a mate of Cassidy’s who promises to do some voodoo to get Genesis to spill some story beans. You’re right: We already did this with the angel in The Grail’s basement, so really, this arc is more about exploring Cassidy’s personality – he has history in N’awlins – and his motives for tagging along.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, but get on with it already, Preacher.