Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Preacher: Proud Americans

At the start of this third volume, the Reverend Jesse Custer and his lady Tulip are on their way to France to find Cassidy, their vampire pal. While at the airport, Jesse meets Billy Baker, a Vietnam vet who was a good friend of Jesse's dad. As they drink at the airport bar, Billy tells Jesse how the "Fuck Communism" lighters came to be, amongst other stories about Jesse's father.

Once in France, Jesse, who worries for Tulip's safety, ditches her and heads off on his own to rescue Cassidy. Thanks to this decision, Jesse is basically forced to wage a one man war on an ancient secret society called the Grail. Their leader, an enormously fat, bulimic sack of shit named D'Aronique is simply one of the easiest bad guys you'll love to hate. His eventual comeuppance is quite satisfying...and fitting.

The issue concludes with a long scene on top of the Empire State Building, with Cassidy telling Jesse the tale of how he came to be a Vampire. Cassidy's back story was actually a lot less interesting than I thought it would be, and the way he came to be a vampire felt like a bit of a rip-off. Considering his current nature: a hard drinking, fast living guy, his back story didn't really seem to fit.

Ennis' inclusion of the 'war story' was cool, it was nicely written and despite seemingly very pressing things happening in the main story line, I got caught up in it. Ennis has a strong knack for dialog, and he has an uncanny ability to build believable characters in short amounts of time. None of the soldier characters felt like cliches or filled the generic roles we so often see in war films. This section of the volume turned out to be my favorite part.

Technically speaking, Ennis was on a role in this volume. His writing was sharp and extremely witty. There were a few moments where some minor detail mentioned, or hinted at in a panel pages ago, would crop back up at just the right moment, and be absolutely hilarious. Based on writing alone, this was a very solid installment, however, as far as entertainment value goes, Proud Americans lacked some of the punch from the first two volumes.

Thanks to the Vietnam story, which was good, and Cassidy's origin story, which was not so good, not a ton happened in terms of the overall story line. Granted, more happened here than most other entire comic series, but after the first two volumes I've come to hold Preacher to a pretty high standard. With the return to American soil, I expect things will get moving again though. Once I get my hands on the fourth volume, a review will follow closely behind.

Grade: B

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