December 13, 2010

Getting Graphic: "Preacher: Until the End of the World" by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon

Preacher: Until the End of the World
written by Garth Ennis
illustrated by Steve Dillon
DC/Vertigo
ISBN 978-1-56389-312-4

I read and reviewed the first volume of the Preacher series back in July (Gone to Texas). I thought that was an insanely entertaining book and kept my fingers crossed that this second volume would hold up. I dare say that it at least made par.

Jesse Custer, a preacher who now speaks the Word of God--literally--after being struck by the entity known as Genesis (an escaped offspring from a forbidden affair between an angel and a demon), is on the road with his estranged girlfriend Tulip when he runs into his past. Well, more like his past catching up with him. His family has found him and wants to claim him once again to preach the Word to the hungry masses. And when Jesse tries to use the Word on them and finds that they're the only people immune to its power, he realizes just how deep a hole he and Tulip are in.

The first volume introduced Jesse as a disillusioned man of God, who after being given such an awesome ability as to have anyone bend to his will, decides to pick a fight with God himself over being an absentee landlord. This second volume traces back his family history and gives a clear sense as to what caused him to be so disillusioned and angry. His family, ruled by his grandmother Miss Marie, is about as evil a family as you could ask for. And they've got someone in their corner who is either a very shady God or a nefarious impostor.

But the story of Jesse's family and his love for Tulip is only have the story in this weighty graphic novel. The second half has Jesse reuniting with Cassidy, the vampire with a Keith Richards attitude towards life, and an exercise in justice against a debauched millionaire responsible for the death of one of Cassidy's old girlfriends. The lurid depictions of the villains in this half are damned near comical, as Jesse and company try to wade through the perversion in order to get at the top dog.

All in all, it's like having two graphic novels in one book. That's great if you want to be thoroughly engrossed by these characters and their antics, but after the absolutely wrenching ordeals from the first half of the book, the second half did feel like it came up a little short. Although, the subject matter is given a much more comedic sentiment that maybe it's just there to help diffuse the wrenching scenes that linger from the first half.

That's about the closest thing to a complain you'll hear from me on this book, as it was just a great read all the way around and I'm eagerly anticipating the third volume, Proud Americans.

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