Saturday, May 22, 2010

Review: Preacher: Ancient History

The fourth volume of Preacher is unlike any volumes that have come before. It contains three Preacher "specials" each set in the past, giving back story on some of the more prominent side characters from the series. The other discrepancy from the previous volumes is that the art is not done by Steve Dillon, and is instead handled by three different artists: Steve Pugh, Carlos Ezquerra, and Richard Case.

The first of the three tales is titled Saint of Killers and tells the origin story of Custer's supernatural nemesis. This is the longest of the three stories and it displays just how bad ass the Saint of Killers was in his mortal life.

While on a journey to a nearby town to obtain medicine for his sick wife and child, the unnamed man runs across a vile band of crooks and killers. This meeting sets off a chain of events that leads to multiple deaths, epic shoot outs and the most amazing scene set in Hell, where even the devil himself isn't safe from the Saint of Killers.

This first story was extremely entertaining, it has pitch perfect dialog, great action scenes, and is also often very funny as well. Very few writers are able to pack so much into a story, but Ennis does so with ease. This is one of the most interesting origin stories I've ever read, and a great western tale as well.

The second story is titled The Story of You-Know-Who, starring one of Ennis' most fucked up characters: Arseface. Set in suburban Texas, an outcast teen struggles to get by while living with his alcoholic mother, and his rednecked-racist father, who also happens to be the town sheriff. His only friend is a fellow outcast named "Pube". When he isn't getting beaten by his father, the kid kills time by listening to Nirvana, smoking weed, and jacking off to porn mags. This saga of angst and woe culminates with the suicide of Kurt Cobain, which causes the two boys to form a suicide pact.

This was the weakest of the three stories. Arseface is a strange character, and one that isn't that interesting to me. I also felt like I've seen or read enough stories of teen angst and that this one felt pretty typical. Given the fact that the kid's name is "Arseface" also more or less gives away the ending, which is ok, if the journey there is great, but this one didn't do too much for me.

The third and final story is titled The Good Old Boys and stars two of my favorite Preacher characters thus far, Jody and T.C. This story takes place during quieter, happier times for Jody and T.C.

On a relaxing day for Jody and T.C.; one filled with fishing, and a death match with a gorilla, they stumble across a cop and a model turned lawyer. These two newcomers have crashed a helicopter in the bayou and are on the run from an international terrorist and his band of mercenaries. Can these two good old boys save the day and get the girl?

This third story played out like an action movie, but one full of twists and breaks from convention. Jody and T.C. are characters I love to hate, for just how psychotic they are in their own unique ways. This was probably my favorite of the three stories, simply because it was a ton of fun to read, and also quite funny.

Ancient History was an interesting break from the main story arc of the Preacher series. I enjoyed reading the back story on the Saint of Killers, and I'm glad Ennis decided to revisit Jody and T.C. That being said, I look forward to getting back to the main story line and seeing what happens with Custer, Cassidy and Tulip.

Grade: B+

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