Preacher vol. 8 TPB: All Hell’s A-Coming – Garth Ennis

3 out of 5

My rose-tinted Preacher glasses apparently made me forget how much dilly-dallying writer Garth Ennis does in his story’s back-half.

Nearly all of the penultimate volume is flashback.  It’s good reading, overall, but it rather nails home points we’ve already seen demonstrated – Cassidy is actually a horrible person; Jesse and Tulip are fated to be together – and really seems to do so again as somewhat of a retroactive decision from the writer, wanting to up the ante on black and white and grey moralities by casting his lead characters further into ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ ponds.  With this trade’s inclusion of the ‘Tall in the Saddle’ one-shot (which, publishing-wise, came out in sequence with how it’s published, here), that revisionist history is even more evident: revisiting a point in the crime-spree past of Jesse and Tulip… and Amy, it’s as though Garth realized he’d done the latter character a short-sighted disservice and wanted to give her a bit more justification for being a put-upon friend.

In All Hell’s A-Coming, Tulip finally wakes up from her Cassidy nonsense, ditches drug and drink, and heads out to get sober.  Meanwhile, Jesse is also searching for her.  The two issues that cover this are prime Preacher soap opera; then Garth hits the brakes to rewind, give us an exposition-filled issue with Jesse driving, catch us up on Arseface, and fill in more of Cassidy’s past.  Cue end of trade.

Again, it’s all admittedly entertaining, and seeing John McCrea’s looser inks on Dillon in Tall in the Saddle reminds us of the nuance of Steve’s work, which is hard to overlook with how consistent he is, but as soon as Ennis starts his flashback routine, I couldn’t help but ask that we just get on with this whole business.