(1998) Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, Titan, £9.99, trdpbk, 352pp.
Take one troubled ex-priest, now merged with a powerful entity that has escaped from its prison in Heaven; add his ex-girlfriend, who may be a contract killer, and a foul-mouthed Irish vampire; and you have the basis of the graphic novel Preacher, based on the first seven parts of the DC Comics series.
Frankly it's a bit of a mess. The main plot concerns Jesse, the eponymous preacher, who has absorbed a creature created in Heaven by the union of an angel and a devil. Heaven itself is in turmoil after God's abdication, with rival factions of angels competing in a way that seems rather ill-thought-through. Having accepted this, though, and the fact that Jesse has the "voice of God" - an ability to command others that cannot be disobeyed - we are still left to absorb the full chorus of vampires, serial killers, implacable assassins sent by Heaven, and the fact that God is hiding-out on Earth somewhere.
The result seems to have been too much even for the writer (Ennis), so that situations and devices whirl through the story on a whim. Indeed, much of the story seems to involve the removal of plot elements that have become just too troublesome to maintain any longer.
Having said that, the story remains hugely entertaining, due to the relentless action, extremely graphic carnage (courtesy of Mr. Dillon) and sick, sick humour. The graphic novel reaches a satisfactory partial resolution of the story, though it remains to be seen whether Garth Ennis can master the elements he has let loose in this first part of the tale.
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