This is not a review of the last book so much as it’s final thoughts on the series. If you want a quick take on the book itself, it’s very good. It’s a satisfying climax. Everybody gets a good ending. The plot is resolved. It’s great plain and simple.
Preacher is in the final reflection damned good. And that’s not something I expected but it’s the truth. It’s an excellent experience I was gifted to have. There are giant flaws but not too many in comparison to the virtues. Like all grand works it needs the end to be truly seen.
So I want to start by meditating on my big issue with the book, the padding. It doesn’t bother me in the end. I started to see this with book 5 but it’s really clear now. This is a tone poem. It’s Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon meditating on the western and America and religion. It’s not about plot but about swirling these ideas around. For that, it’s great.
Because I truly think Ennis has something to say about mythology as a whole, be it religion or the West. He’s angry at it. He sees the violence and hypocrisy of it. There is genuine anger at systems that oppress people under the guise of doing good. And that takes so many forms from religion to history to ideology. This book pulsates with rage unceasing.
And Ennis uses as his vehicles for this characters we come to love. After a slow build, I did come to care about Jesse. I watched as he unexpectedly found his humanity and goodness after abuse destroyed it. I instantly loved Tulip and that only grew through the book. She’s a kind badass. Cassidy is a despicable creep but I loved him too. And I sympathized so hard with The Saint of Killers that his revenge was release.
On the other hand, there were villains I loved hating too. Herr Starr was such a brilliant bastard I’m happy to hear that despite being the major in comic villain he survived the show. I enjoyed his evil right hand Featherstone whose love for Starr was bizarre. I love that she’s played on the show by survivor of the worst parts of my almost beloved House, Julie Ann Emery. Oddly I came to enjoy Jesse’s grandmother more as a spectre haunting his emotions after death. It showed why we needed that section, to emphasize her hold. And then of course there was God. Not in the comic much but such a horrible villain.
All of this came from Steve Dillon’s expert pen. I raved about Dillon on Punisher MAX. I’ll do it again here. I love the work the late Dillon did and he was literally Ennis’ best man at his wedding so that says it all about their alliance. They understood each other’s best strengths and brought them out in their teamwork. Ennis wrote some revolting images Dillon made almost pretty. His work was clean and precise.
There were flaws. Look, I can’t say it enough. Ennis is gross. He’d only sink lower after this. I can’t overlook that he used profanity like I use is. He would occasionally get very shallow in his politics. He sure loved bodily function humor. He found bestiality hysterical which it’s really not. And man even in 1997 the gay jokes were sad. But in this moment, I’m not as bothered by the worst of Ennis as I will be later. At least his targets were worthy.
I also have to attack a big thread that seems at least liked. I’m sorry but Arseface added nothing to the story. Like Nick Hornby, Ennis uses the suicide of Kurt Cobain to add gravitas to a woork and it dates it very poorly as I feel Cobain’s life has had a greater impact than his death. I also found the idea of him as a freak celebrity so incredibly 1990s in a way that really just did not last. None of that satire landed. Sure he’s a sad story. They all are.
Ultimately I can say this. I enjoyed this epic ride. I’ll even likely go back to it in time. This was an excursion that brought me into a deep dive with an artist I despise. But I can say that on this front, I come away with respect. A thoroughly powerful journey.