Welcome to the final week in our discussion of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. For more, read weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
Paul: It ends here.
Nine volumes. 66 issues. Five one-shot specials. A four-issue tie-in miniseries. And a tanker truck full of blood and guts. Our pissed-off preacher, gun-toting girl Friday, and blood-drinking BFF all converge, where else? Texas. The Alamo, to be precise. And things get both big and small, epic and very, very personal.
Oh, and one poorly written report gets taken out behind the woodshed and shot the fuck up.
So AJ, mi compadre, what did you think of the grand finale?
AJ: Where to begin? Perhaps it’s best to start with my one sizable complaint before moving on to everything that worked so, so well here. Last week, we talked about the watering-down of Herr Starr, of how even though he’s the series’ ostensible antagonist, his misadventures have often been treated as comic relief. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention, but I completely failed to realize that taking revenge on Jesse had supplanted bringing about Armageddon as his goal in life. So when he announced his plans to the Elite Council, I was just as confused as they were (luckily, I didn’t get murdered right after). I feel like a discussion of Starr as the series’ Big Bad could take up its own post, so I’ll just say that though I loved the vast majority of what we ended up getting, I can’t imagine what an epic ending Armageddon could have provided.
Welcome to week 8 of 9 in our discussion of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. For more, read weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
AJ: Here we are. The penultimate volume of Preacher. Given the title and the fact that we’re very near the end, I thought there would be a lot more violence and bloodshed. Instead, All Hell’s A-Coming turns its focus inward, with a lot to say about our heroes and their pasts. The past is a big theme here, not only because of the extended flashbacks but also because people and things from long ago keep coming back to add wrinkles to the story.
Speaking of those extended flashbacks, where should we start: Tulip or Cassidy?
Paul: I say we take it in order, so Tulip.
AJ: The beginning of this volume is all kinds of heartbreaking. A listless Tulip dragging herself out of bed, trying and failing to find the drugs she’s felt she’s needed for these past months. Last we saw Cassidy, we were beginning to realize that he might not have been the fundamentally decent person we thought he was. That continues in the opening scene, as he tells Tulip that everything’s all right, she only needs her medicine, and “Don’t make me take that fuckin’ guy away from you.” Followed immediately by Tulip blasting him into the sunlight. Tulip flees the hell that Cassidy has made for her, then we learn all about how she became who she is.
Welcome to week 5 of 9 in our analysis of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. For more, read weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Paul: Juhz. (Justice.)
AJ: As much as I’ve had my problems with Arseface thus far, any time he said something like that in this volume, I cracked up. UHFUH.
Paul: He’s just so sweet and earnest.
AJ: He really is. And the gang cracking up while he has them at gunpoint? How can you not laugh at that?
Paul: Poor Uhfuh.
Welcome to week 4 of 9 in our analysis of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. Read the past installments here, here, and here.
AJ: After three volumes of mayhem, destruction, bloodshed, blasphemy, and a heapin’ helpin’ of profanity, the Preacher TPBs take a breather with…well, “breather” might be the wrong word. “Diversion” is more like it. Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy are out of the picture this time as Garth Ennis and a couple guest artists flesh out the backstories of the Saint of Killers, Arseface, and Jody ‘n T.C. Last week, you called this collection “inessential.” Having re-read it, do you still feel the same?
Paul: I’m afraid I actually feel it even more strongly than I remembered. This won’t happen very often at all over the course of these discussions, but I’m going to say that the stories this time around are just not very good. I mean, getting the backstory of the Saint of Killers (or more accurately, a version of his backstory) is cool and interesting. But it also takes the exaggeration and clichés of the main story and really turns them up to 11. And while both Steve Pugh and Carlos Ezquerra have done pretty great stuff elsewhere over the years, here I think they really suffer from being “fill-in” artists for Steve Dillon.
The Arseface and Jody & T.C. stories are straight up pointless.
Welcome to week 3 of 9 in our analysis of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. Weeks 1 and 2 can be found here and here.
Paul & AJ: MOTHERFUCKERRR!!!
AJ: Last week, you said that Preacher is Garth Ennis’ love letter to an idealized America. Fittingly enough, this third volume is entitled Proud Americans. It opens with a tribute to unfairly treated Vietnam vets, closes with Cassidy’s immigrant’s ode to America, and in between continues Jesse’s struggle between modern ways of thinking and his own manly American moral code. The book also encompasses much more than that, with Jesse’s rescue of Cassidy from the Grail, but those moments seemed the most heartfelt. I didn’t entirely see the love letter aspect last week, but now I completely see what you meant.
Paul: I’m glad my comment makes sense now. I think the love letter aspects were definitely present in the previous volumes, but this volume most definitely brings that theme front and center. It’s sometimes a challenge for me to comment on this series as if I haven’t read the entire thing before.
Last summer, I started a column entitled Four-Color Flashback, wherein I went through and discussed/analyzed a legendary run of comic books I’d never read. In that case, it was Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s Uncanny X-Men (read the first part here). It was a fun experience, and toward the end of the column, I stated the desire to return to the concept “some time in the next century.” That time is now!
Unlike last year, which was just me rambling on endlessly by myself, this summer, I’m joined by Paul to discuss Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s notorious Preacher. Paul is a huge fan, and I’ve never read a single issue, so we’re both bringing different perspectives to the table. The series lasted for 66 issues from 1995 to 2000, and has subsequently been collected in nine trade paperbacks. We’ll be going through them one at a time, starting this week with Preacher: Vol. 1 – Gone to Texas, collecting the series’ first seven issues.
So pull up a chair, do your best John Wayne impression, and enjoy.
(That was me commanding you with the Word.)
On the new episode of Gobbledygeek, Paul and AJ told you about all the things you should buy this Christmas season, and now here’s a comprehensive guide! (Including a few items that weren’t even mentioned on the show.)
Note: Most links and prices are from Amazon.
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline
Hands down one of the best science fiction books I’ve read in recent memory. It’s like my admittedly overdeveloped nostalgia gland were milked and distilled onto the page. This book is my geeky, pop-culture DNA printed in ink. ~ Paul
Welcome to Last Month’s Comics, in which I discuss, uh, last month’s comics. I get my comics in bi-monthly shipments from Discount Comic Book Service, and as such, I can be a little behind. So here we are.
This column is later than usual, as I was a little preoccupied earlier this month, but for all those still madly wondering about what October 2011′s comics had to offer, here we go…
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Eduardo Risso
I’ve read only a fraction of Azzarello and Risso’s acclaimed 100 Bullets, which ran for ten years from 1999 to 2009, but one needs no familiarity with their past work to be immediately sucked in by the opening chapter of Spaceman, their new nine-issue mini-series from Vertigo. It takes place in a weird, sad future, just a few monsters and flying cars away from the one in Joss Whedon’s Fray. Our protagonist is Orson, a monkey-ish man genetically engineered to travel to Mars, a trip the human race never got to make. Orson and his low-class friends speak in bizarre, disjointed slang; “okee” is how they say okay, and they actually say “LOL LOL LOL” instead of laughing. In this first issue, Orson has ominous spaceman dreams and becomes involved in the kidnapping of the adopted child of reality TV stars. Eduardo Risso’s art is terrific, Brian Azzarello’s storytelling immediately compelling. Choice line, as Orson’s alarm chirps “New day, new day, new day” while he opens the door on a bleak, cloudless future: “Why, you lyin machine…it’s the same fuck old day it always is.” (Plus: $1!)
In our latest episode, Paul and I mentioned a number of comics recommendations for beginners in a variety of genres. However, we also mentioned that we had to pare down our lists significantly so that the topic would even approach being manageable. Here, as promised, are our other selections.
FANTASTIC FOUR #232-293 (John Byrne)
After his legendary Uncanny X-Men run, John Byrne took over Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four. Cinematic storytelling, emotional character shake-ups, shocking betrayals. And he grew up Sue Storm, taking her from the Invisible Girl to the Invisible Woman.
Last night, Paul and I reached the conclusion of our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture. Here are choice excerpts from our top 10′s, but be sure to listen to the whole show to hear everything we said:
PAUL: Calvin & Hobbes (Calvin & Hobbes)
The series was not only the funniest comic strip of all time (and on this point I will brook no dispute), but it was almost the most philosophical, satirical, and thought-provoking.
AJ: Death (The Sandman)
With the usual concepts and presentations of Death’s visage from Western culture so ingrained in my mind, just the idea that Death didn’t have to be gloomy or terrifying, and instead could be a radiant beacon of hope, felt stunningly fresh and bold to me.