If you asked me to explain Preacher I would probably describe the story in the simplest of terms. Preacher is about a preacher. “No kidding,” you would say, and I would look at you with the half grin of a guy who is bursting to tell you more. My eyes might tell you that Preacher is about an ass kicking, chain smoking, beer drinking Texan who believes in hard work, loyalty, country and God, but that wouldn’t be enough to describe Preacher either.
In 1995, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon set Genesis loose on the world and turned 66 comic book issues into one of the greatest stories of all time. “Preacher is based on a comic book?” Yes, pardner. Vertigo, the mature audience imprint of DC Comics, published all 75 issues through October of 2000. “I thought you said there were 66 issues?” Yeah, well, the series got a handful of one-shots, and a Saint of Killers mini series. “Saint of Killers?!” Don’t worry; I’ll get to him.
So our hero, Jesse Custer, he’s a preacher, but he’s not your stereotypical preacher. He’s from the small town of Anneville, Texas, and he’s had a rough upbringing. “That’s the guy Dominic Cooper is playing?” Yes, Howard Stark in the flesh. When we meet Jesse, he struggles with being a preacher, or at least being particularly good at being a preacher. “In the show or in the comics?” A little of both, but I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a second to clarify.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg got together with AMC in 2013 and decided they wanted to bring Preacher to life. “Haha.” I know what you’re thinking, but I can promise you this isn’t a Pineapple Express TV series, or an ill-advised Neighbors sequel. The channel that brought you Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and The Walking Dead is committed to giving you at least 10 episodes of Jesse Custer’s adventures.
If I were to recommend one comic book series to a stranger or friend, Preacher would be the one. However, this is about getting you to watch the show because the comics aren’t going anywhere, and TV shows depend on viewers. “But you’re trying to explain the comic book in an effort to get me to watch the show?” Nailed it. If the show is able to capture even a fraction of the magic of Garth Ennis’ story then we’re in for a treat.
“So… this already started though right?” Correct. The first episode has already aired, but that’s all so far. That’s an easy task to get caught up on. “How was the first episode?” Pretty damn good. The gang is all there with Jesse and his cigarettes, his on-again, off-again, flame Tulip, and we even meet his new best buddy Cassidy, who looks pretty good for 100 years old. “I’ve seen Cassidy, the guy who plays him isn’t over 35.” Yeah, well, he’s playing a vampire, and if Twilight taught us anything it’s that vampires stay dreamy forever.
“I didn’t know there were vampires in this thing.” Preacher will surprise you on more than one occasion. An Irish vampire who likes to drink and stir up excitement is kind of on the mild end of the surprise spectrum. The TV show had Cassidy free falling from an airplane, consuming an entire cow, and being overwhelmed by his admiration for Jesse’s tenacity all in the very first episode. The bromance is going to be strong with those two, and you’re going to end up finding Cassidy quite charming.
We didn’t get everything clarified in the first episode though. “You mentioned Genesis before?” Genesis is the illegitimate love child of an angel and a demon. Angels and demons aren’t supposed to fall in love, or make whoopee, but that obviously didn’t stop them. Genesis was born an uncontrollable being with unprecedented power. So much power that God fled Heaven in fear of what Genesis might do. “God… left?” In this world, God abandoned his post in Heaven.
In the first episode of the show we meet Eugene, known to comic readers as Arseface due to his grotesque physical appearance. Eugene mentions to Jesse that God used to talk back to him when he prayed, but he couldn’t hear him anymore. I don’t think this is a coincidence, and Jesse was right in telling Eugene that his sins weren’t to blame for God’s sudden disappearance in Eugene’s life, or anyone else’s for that matter.
“They call him Arseface?” They do, or will. Eugene’s dad is a mean old bastard too. Eugene got depressed and tried to blow his face off, and Sheriff Root took the act personally. A backwoods redneck police officer like Hugo Root wasn’t really made to raise a misunderstood teenager. So they call him Arseface, and, bless his soul, he embraces the name.
Getting back to Genesis, it was locked up in Heaven by a group of angels called the Adelphi. However, Genesis broke free and went to Earth searching for a host. Episode one of the TV show offers a descript visual of Genesis blowing through potential hosts, one body at a time. Not just any human can contain Genesis, why, we’re not sure, but Genesis settles on our hero Jesse.
Now the comic and the show tell slightly different tales, but the long and short of it is that Jesse now commands the power of Genesis, which might be the most powerful being in the universe. That power manifests itself in the form of spoken word. “The word of God?” Whatever Jesse says out loud, if he commands you to do something, you literally have to do what he says. The show gave us a graphic example of a man cutting out his own heart when Jesse harmlessly suggested he share his heart with his mother.
I have to believe the show will stick relatively close to the comic and that means the Adelphi plan to release the Saint of Killers in order to get Genesis back in a cage. You were wondering, what is a Saint of Killers? “Yes.” The Saint is an undead gunslinger that won’t stop until he gets exactly what he’s after. He’s as intimidating as he sounds, but we’ve yet to see where he factors into the show. We were briefly introduced to Fiore and DeBlanc who are the Adelphi both responsible for getting Genesis back, and, at least in the comic book, releasing the Saint of Killers.
“Any last notes?” The dynamic between Tulip and Jesse is important. They love each other, but they’re both strong willed and stubborn as hell. That doesn’t mean they don’t need each other. Their history isn’t nearly as interesting as where they’re headed. You also might want to keep an eye out for a Custer family heirloom in the form of a lighter and The Duke himself, John Wayne.
“Did you just say The Duke?” That might be a tale for another time, pilgrim. Preacher is about a preacher. Jesse’s past, his present, and where he’s headed. Jesse isn’t the type of guy who is just going to let God abandon Heaven. He’s also not the kind of guy who is going to use power for much more than doing exactly what needs to be done. All you need to do is join him on his journey. The ride is going to be bumpy, violent, high-octane, and even infuriating at times, but I can promise you this ride is like no other you’ve ever experienced.
“If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow…” – John Wayne
Don’t miss an episode of Preacher every Sunday night on AMC. Want to read the story along with watching the show? Head over to Amazon now and check out the amazing stories of Garth Ennis with art by Steve Dillon and incredible cover art by Glenn Fabry.
Tags: 1995, 90s, AMC, Breaking Bad, Cassidy, Comic Books, Comics, Dominic Cooper, Garth Ennis, Genesis, Glenn Fabry, Jesse Custer, Preacher, Saint of Killers, Steve Dillon, Tulip O'Hare, Vertigo, Walking Dead