Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: Preacher: War in the Sun

The last time I read a Preacher book I was somewhat less than thrizzled. Well, in War in the Sun, the sixth volume of this series, I am happy to say that the ship has been set back on course, and the entertaining action and drama that has defined this series is in full force.

War in the Sun opens with an origin story of sorts. In this opening chapter, we follow Herr Starr in his journey from German elite soldier to his beginnings with the organization called "The Grail". As a child, Starr was the target of bullies, and one day the bullying went too far. Using a broken bottle, the bullies carved a five pointed "star for Starr" on his face, causing Starr to lose his eyesight from the injury, his hair from the trauma, and also giving the poor bastard a life long raspy voice due to all the screaming he did during the incident. This event hardened Starr and he used that hardness to eventually rise to the powerful position of All-Father of the Grail organization, which leaves him in command of a private army, and the power to pull many political strings...all of which he uses to his fullest ability to get his hands on Jesse Custer...

Which brings me to the man himself: Jesse Custer, his lady-friend Tulip and his pal Cassidy. Since the events in Louisiana, Custer's plan is to head to the desert, take some peyote, and talk to Genesis, the powerful being that has possessed his body. With that plan in mind, Jesse scores some peyote from an American Indian, and heads for Monument Valley, the popular backdrop of many a classic Western film.

Meanwhile, Tulip and Cassidy are less than buddy-buddy due to Cassidy's recent proclamation of hidden love for Tulip. Cassidy has since apologized for his "wankerish" behavior, claiming he'll leave Tulip and Jesse to their love, but there is a definite lack of trust on Tulip's behalf. Rightfully so, given some stories she heard from Casssidy's friends in New Orleans...

Jesse isn't the only one heading towards Monument Valley. Thanks to some inside information, Starr, with his personal army, is waiting in ambush, and this time they have the US Army in their back pocket. However the hallucinogenic soul searching and the world domination schemes are interrupted by an unexpected third party, and when the dust clears no one will be left unscathed.

War in the Sun is packed with Ennis' usual action, drama and humor. Those three qualities are in abundance in this volume. Ennis has done a solid, though somewhat obvious, job of making me mistrust and dislike Cassidy. By the end of this volume, I kinda hate the bastard. There isn't much to say about Ennis' writing that I haven't already said. There were times when I felt the dialog took over the page, essentially squeezing out the art, but that feeling dissipated as the action picked up.

A different artist, Peter Snejbjerg, was brought in to draw Starr's origin story. Overall, I was not a fan of his art. My biggest gripe being that Starr's nose and chin looked over sized and cartoony, the guy isn't Pinocchio! While some panels were rather striking, I felt the overall quality was a drop in comparison to that done by Steve Dillon. Dillon on the other hand, once again did great work. It never ceases to amaze me how many of his drawings get laughs out of me. Sometimes they are just so spot on for the moment they are depicting...plus he draws Arseface. Great stuff.

It was nice to see a return to excellent form for this series. The middle books in any series can often be a struggle to get through, but now I find myself on the home stretch, and I can't wait to see where this series will end up, and what will happen to the characters. War in the Sun is one of the more exciting entries in the Preacher series. Awesome stuff.

Grade: B+

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