Ten year later, I just finished reading Preacher.
I picked up the first issue of Preacher way back in 1995, mostly because writer Garth Ennis and artist (most of the time) Steve Dillon had just finished kicking so much ass on Hellblazer and whatever they left for had to be that much more kick ass. Alas, Stu of 1995 wasn’t really into it. He read the first story arc and felt under whelmed. He continued reading till about issue 36, hoping it would get better. Eventually, he gave up.
I’m really glad he did.
If I had continued on at the grueling monthly pace, I probably would have disliked the ending as much as everyone else I know seems to have. However, I just spent the last week reading the series cover to cover and I loved it pretty much top to bottom.
It feels (unlike, say, Lost) like Ennis knew exactly where he was going every step of the way, aside of a couple moments of meandering. Issue 66 really does feel like an ending to the story that started in the first issue. I can’t honestly say that for many long running series, if any at all. To develop and stay true to all of those characters over a long run is quite the accomplishment.
If the writing marked the apex of Ennis’ skills, Dillon’s art is a masterpiece. Considering 75% percent of the book consists of people sitting around talking, that it still manages to be engrossing is nothing short of amazing. Dillon’s control over expression, from a subtle twist of the mouth here, to an averted glance there, is unparalleled and makes the characters come alive.
The worst part of Preacher is that these guys have not, and probably will never, rise to this level again. Ennis’ The Boys is good fun, but far too preoccupied with being ‘shocking’ for readers to empathize with the characters while Dillon’s work on The Punisher and elsewhere hasn’t had the opportunity to develop the attention to detail that was apparent back in the Preacher days.
But hey, Preacher is all about people being able to change for the better, so maybe there is still hope.
Then again, Preacher is also all about ass jokes, so maybe everyone is right where they’re supposed to be.