AMC has recently announced that they have begun development on a TV series adaptation of the graphic novel, Preacher, to executive produced by the team that brought us This Is the End, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Preacher has had a long and frustrating history with attempts at jumping to both the silver and small screens, coming extremely close thanks to directors and producers who loved the source material, but couldn’t quite push it to fruition. With The Walking Dead being the television juggernaut that it is, along with Mad Men and Breaking Bad to name a few, AMC has become a great platform for cutting edge shows that can push the envelope, and Preacher should fit right in. With a glowing endorsement from the original creator, Garth Ennis, on the upcoming series, I am very excited to see the show begin to develop and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce readers to the story, its characters, and what may make this the next big television success. Hit the jump for more.
So a preacher, a hit woman, and an Irish Vampire walk into a diner. This is essentially the start of the story as these three begin to discuss their mission of tracking down God and holding him accountable for all the misfortune that has befallen mankind. Sounds crazy? It only gets moreso from here. If anything can be said of Preacher, it’s that the story itself is perhaps one of the more original and eclectic offerings that you’ll find as these main characters travel the world encountering an Illuminati-style organization dubbed “The Grail”, the angel of death refashioned as an old time gunslinger named the “Saint of Killers”, sex detectives, angels, and a teenager named “Arseface”. It’s a lot to take in, but the storylines flow and weave effortlessly with one another while illuminating the core idea of Preacher as a story about friendship, betrayal, and a modern retelling of a spaghetti western with commentary on religion and society thrown in for good measure. There’s a lot of heart to be found in the story of Preacher, and along the way, you’ll be shown things that you’ve most likely never seen before.
Jesse Custer, the main protagonist of the story, is a small town preacher who has had enough of his vocation and is ready to tell off his congregation during a Sunday morning service, when an otherworldly entity named “Genesis” latches to Custer, in turn destroying everything within the church save Jesse. Genesis gives Jesse the ability to use “The Word” which allows him to basically tell anyone within earshot to do whatever he wants (throughout the series, this is used to both humorous and horrifying effect.) As Jesse recovers, he is found by his ex-girlfriend, now assassin for hire Tulip O’Hare, and the hard drinking, drug abusing nosferatu, Cassady. Jesse begins his quest to find out what Genesis is, how God is responsible, learn more about his own horrific upbringing, and converse in his private times with the ghost of John Wayne. It’s a roller coaster folks, that takes a long hard look at the American dream.
The three characters that I mentioned above are the heart of Preacher. Despite all the insanity happening around them, the story lies in their past and present as their pain filled lives move forward. Mistakes are made and bonds are formed between the three, as the story has some of the most heartbreaking scenes you’re likely to find. Without going into too much detail to avoid spoilers, Cassady happens to be my favorite character in the series, and perhaps one of my favorite fictional characters that can be found. Cassady being a vampire is almost an afterthought to the fact that the character is EXTREMELY broken, and is a key component to a lot of the somber moments to be found in the series. His life of abuse, heavy drinking, and drug use tortures not only himself, but those around him as well.
Tulip O’Hare, Jesse’s ex-girlfriend at the start of the series, grew up as the daughter of a man who always wanted a son. When his wife dies in the process, Tulip’s father raises his daughter to be proficient with guns and not take crap from anyone. Tulip makes for a very interesting character and foil to Jesse, being as strong if not stronger than him, and not taking any of his crap along the way. Her interactions with both Jesse and Cassady through the series make for some hilarious, and also devastating, moments throughout.
What would great heroes be without great villains? To start, the main antagonist, aside from God of course, is to be found in Herr Starr. Starr is one of the top members of the Grail, a secret organization dedicated to keeping the bloodline of Christ alive as it secretly pulls the strings of most of the world’s governments. Along with being a great heel, Starr offers some of the funniest moments to be found in Preacher and it will be a delight to see how these are played out live (“Improper Use of Inverted Commas, Hoover! Improper Use of Inverted Commas!”) Aside from Starr, there’s also the Saint of Killers, an old gunslinger who has become the angel of death and has been sanctioned by heaven to kill Custer in order to end Genesis and the threat that it poses. The Saint is one of the more terrifying aspects of the series as he acts as a terminator of sorts, an immortal, unstoppable killing machine whose pistols kill whatever they’re pointed at when fired.
Each story arc within the comics usually lasted anywhere from 6-12 issues, much like AMC’s The Walking Dead, showing our main three characters meet even more out there individuals that do anything from assist Jesse in communicating with Genesis to attempt kidnap Cassady to turn them all into vampires themselves (a group of vampire worshipping folks called the Les Enfants Du Sang). It should work extremely well as a serialized television series, perhaps splitting each 12 issues into its own season.
Preacher has always been a tough sell. Any property that portrays God as the main villain of the tale is, to say nothing of the numerous rampant batshit crazy ideas that are strewn throughout. It’s these elements though that also help put forth a story that is about a man, his woman, and his best friend and all that joys and heartache that go along with these relationships. Preacher is really a story about the American way of life and it features cameos from some of the most iconic figures from the US of A (from John Wayne to Elvis (Maybe?) to Bill Hicks). Yes, there happens to be a storyline where the gang walks into a giant sex mansion and stumbles upon a room with a man in a gimp mask, screaming at sheep, but its all part of the crazy journey that is Preacher. I’m really looking forward to see how the show transitions to AMC and to see who ends up playing which characters. It’s going to be a helluva ride.