Saturday, 16 August 2014

Preacher, Volume 3: Proud Americans Review (Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon)

Three volumes in and it’s still unclear to me why Preacher is considered to be this “classic” of modern comics. Sure, it’s by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, both of whom are brilliant comics creators, but I feel Preacher is mostly an excuse for Ennis and Dillon to shout and swear and do all manner of silly gross things for the hell of it, rather than tell this amazing story.

Proud Americans opens with a one-shot story of Jesse’s dad in Vietnam and is a fairly unremarkable piece. Ennis will return to ‘Nam over the years with various characters - Frank Castle, Nick Fury, to name two - to tell better ‘Nam stories but this forgettable tale of Jesse’s dad and his mate getting their own back on an uppity sergeant was dull and unnecessary. Filler, basically.

Then we’re into the main story which takes up most of the volume. Jesse and Tulip are headed to Masada, where Cassidy is being held captive by the Grail - and so is the Saint of Killers. Meanwhile, Cassidy is tortured by Starr while we meet the head of the Grail, the morbidly obese Allfather, and the Son of God himself. 

This part of the book really drags as we wait for Jesse and the Saint of Killers to finally arrive and save Cassidy. Meanwhile we’re treated to a load of tedious drivel by Starr as he explains - at length - about the Grail and it’s aims, while Ennis does his best to pointlessly shock the reader with juvenile humour. Look - the Allfather is massively obese! AND he’s bulimic! AND he threw up all over himself then ate a whole cake without wiping away the vomit! AHAHAHAHA! Fat people are disgusting and different therefore they’re funny! And look, he’s bulimic so he’s self-conscious of his weight even though he’s a fat disgusting fuck! I’m Garth Ennis and I find eating disorders HYSTERICAL! 

AND Starr likes to get fucked up the bum with a custom-made dildo! AHAHAHAHAHA! Get it, because anal sex is so funny, especially when a butch guy is getting it! AND the Son of God is retarded thanks to centuries of inbreeding! AHAHAHAHAHA, Christians are so fucking stupid! …. Yeah, I wasn’t impressed. Would you be with this Kevin Smith/Adam Sandler-level of “comedy”?

Ennis keeps up the “edginess” by having Cassidy tortured by Some Guy called Frankie - who also had his dick cut off because Ennis is all about pointless shocks and gratuitous violence. So after Frankie’s done explaining why and how he became a eunuch (which you’d think would be fascinating but wasn’t), there’s page after page of Cassidy being shot repeatedly with a high powered rifle. Get on with it, Ennis, I kept thinking.

Things improve a bit once the rescue actually happens when Custer and the Saint of Killers storm Masada but what a dreary slog through schoolboy juvenilia - really, that’s the audience for this kind of comic! 

The volume closes out with another lengthy monologue, this time by Cassidy, explaining his back story and how he became a vampire. It’s probably the most monotonous origin story I’ve ever read. The vampire bit is a couple of pages and the rest is Cassidy talking about the Irish Revolutionary War and his dreary entrance to America. He basically does a lot of walking and thinking while people age around him. I’d have preferred if Ennis hadn’t bothered explaining Cassidy’s back story given how crap it was. It dates the comic too, ending as it does with a view of the Twin Towers. 

The volume tries to push the story forward and build the characters up and manages to do both but in such a way as to tire this reader out, making its 230 pages seem much, much longer. So far, the series has been average at best and I’m not seeing what other fans of the series do; Proud Americans doesn’t improve on this view.

Preacher, Volume 3: Proud Americans

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