Sunday, 3 August 2014

Preacher, Volume 2: Until the End of the World Review (Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon)

Jesse and Tulip are caught and dragged back to Jesse’s nightmarish childhood home, Angelville, in backwoods Louisiana. Meanwhile, the mysterious Grail organisation is out to hunt down Jesse for their own sick plans of Armageddon. 

The second Preacher volume is a step up from the underwhelming first one but it still feels like the young Garth Ennis is still finding his sea legs. The title story is roughly half the book but it’s really tough to get through. Jesse’s Gran’ma and her cadre of sadistic hillbillies do so many awful things that it feels like you’re reading torture porn, or watching one of those Saw movies. Good people are murdered, children are tortured, and all in name of Christianity - or at least their warped version of it. 

It’s this story where I noticed a familiar formula being created - Ennis would go on to write The Punisher MAX (arguably his greatest work yet) which would play out like this in every volume: bad people do bad things for 80% of the story, then Frank shows up and does his angel of death routine for the final 20%. 

That’s basically what happens in Until the End of the World (a phrase which gets overly stated by Jesse to the point of cheesiness), as Ennis takes away Jesse’s voice of God power until the last possible moment and then lets him wreak righteous vengeance. It’s difficult to read up until that point and then it’s totally compelling. 

The second half sees Jesse and Tulip reunite with Cassidy in San Francisco as the trio take on The Grail, where Ennis switches gears from pure sadism to his off-colour brand of comedy (ie. tough guy characters being sodomised, etc). It’s kinda funny, I guess, but, mixed in with a lot of serious issues, it can feel a tad bitter. And I thought the Sexual Investigators as a comedy gimmick were really underdeveloped too - they were basically one-note idiots and they could’ve been much funnier. 

If you’re a Punisher/Ennis fan like me, you’ll also notice prototype characters in this book who’ll appear in The Punisher MAX. Gran’ma is basically Ma Gnucci while Hoover is Soap from Welcome Back, Frank. It’s interesting seeing their genesis.

Steve Dillon’s art is as great as ever and Glenn Fabry’s covers are just amazing. Both artists have been the strongest parts of Preacher so far, at least for me, while Ennis’ writing has been about average. 

Preacher, Volume 2: Until the End of the World felt overlong for the most part. Jesse and Tulip’s ordeal at Gran’ma’s place just dragged on and on while the Grail storyline moved a bit more quickly but still felt like a lead-up to a better storyline. The series feels like it’s starting to get going at long last so hopefully from here on out the disappointing first couple volumes will pay off into much better comics.

Preacher, Volume 2: Until The End Of The World

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