It’s no secret: I’m not as spry as I once was. Physically, it takes a bit longer to get out of bed than before, my tolerance for certain things I once considered fulfilling have dropped to an all-time low, and I tend to be stuck in my ways and unwilling to budge on certain scenarios more often than not. My lifestyle has changed, my eating habits have changed (for the better), my sleeping patterns have changed (for the worse), but the one consistent I can say is that my love for comic books and graphic novels have remained the same.
As a indicator of my advancing age (and dwindling sanity), I was in high school when DC/Vertigo’s Preacher originally debuted on shelves. The book came at a time where, in an effort to keep up with the emergence of titles that eschewed the Comics Code and gravitated toward content that was more violent and sexually provocative, DC teamed with writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon to create Preacher . Now, twenty years, many tattoos, and one Black President of the United States later, the Eisner Award series is now the proud owner of its own television series on AMC, developed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen and Sam Catlin.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
Though I casually read the book when it was out (it was one of those titles where you, literally, had to be 18 to buy… or be good with the sticky fingers), my curiosity piqued enough to watch the first episode as in its first four minutes there was both an African preacher exploding in front of his congregation (because, as is the norm, Black people always die first on TV and in movies) and a crude, lewd joke. As it turns out, said Black preacher guy blew up due to an entity that, essentially, is the very reason or the series: he becomes possessed by something (more on that later) which he is unable to control, thus killing him in the process.
Enter Jesse Custer: a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, disillusioned clergyman of the All Saints congregation in the small Texas town of Annville. He’s not exactly the best at his job; his congregation would rather spend time on their tablets playing Fruit Ninja or shooting squirrels out back instead. Jesse isn’t all what he appears to be either, with a shady past of his own; what that past is, the producers clearly are not going to reveal that in the very first episode, duh. But the kid who was played Peter Pan in that Geico commercial asks Jesse to throw the hands at his wife-battering pops (and does he ever), so clearly Jesse isn’t exactly the last boy scout.
Oh look: crack, coke, dope, sizzurp, Robittusin, and Cassidy: a free-balling dude whose Irish accent is so thick I had to turn my closed caption option on just to make out what he’s saying half the time. He seems like your typical secondary character, but if you’ve read the book (or at least the Wikipedia page) you know he’s not: Cass is a vampire, who ends up being Jesse’s right-hand man after a bar brawl (funnily enough, Jesse doesn’t even understand him so I know it wasn’t just me). One fight scene involving an air freshener flamethrower and a guy being used as a box of wine later, and the guy instantly becomes my favorite character of the show.
We’re then introduced to Tulip, Jesse’s ex and former partner-in-crime, in one of the dopest scenes of the episode: in a flashback scene she’s fighting off two guys while they are in an out-of-control car careening through a corn field, and she ends up murking one of them with an ear of corn before dispatching a helicopter and its pilot with a bazooka made of empty cans, moonshine, and toy army men. It turns out that Jesse was the one who walked away from their relationship (gee, wonder why?), and Tulip wasn’t exactly over him and tracks him down.
This show is a trip, man. Jesse goes to the mother of Geico Peter Pan, who reveals that she’s actually turned on by her husband beating her. LOLWUT? And there’s also a character, Eugene, who is known as “Arseface” in the book and speaks entirely in sub-titles. You have to see him to understand.
Meanwhile, two mysterious people begin to investigate the churches where its respective priests — first in Africa, then again in Russia, then again Tom Cruise — exploded because of that entity. That “entity” makes its way throughout Earth before ultimately landing in the lap of, you guessed it, one Jesse Custer. The being has unknowingly given Custer the Word of God; or, mind control. That power is displayed, as an unwitting recipient literally opens his heart up to his mother.
It’s only one episode in, and Preacher is already shaping up to be one of the best watches this summer. It appears to be a pretty faithful rendition of the comic book, and is easily a standout of its own among the AMC programming. As such, expect weekly reviews of the show here at the DopeHouse by yours truly. This is going to be fun.