"Preacher: Volume 2 - Until the End of the World" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Vertigo Comics
Originally published as Preacher #8 - #17
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Steve Dillon
1996, 264 Pages
Trade Paperback released on January 1st, 1997
(NOTE: I'm assuming that if you're reading this review, you've already read the first volume. If you haven't consider yourself warned. Spoilers ahead!)
When we last left our heroes, Jesse Custer had embarked on a quest to hunt down the All Mighty who has abandoned his post in Heaven. Empowered with the voice of God, he heads down south with his girlfriend, Tulip (not a sexual metaphor, although the two bump uglies a LOT), to take care of a few things. On the way the pair are picked up by Jesse's redneck family and put through the ringer. Meanwhile, a mysterious organization called The Grail is tracking Jesse to use him and his new-found power for their own gain.
Garth Ennis is from Northern Ireland but somehow manages to write the most American characters I've ever seen. Jesse Custer is like a young John Wayne, which works out well because Jesse talks to Wayne periodically in the book. Ennis has managed to capture the essence of the Good Ol' Boy in Jesse and his family is no different.
Jesse's grandmother is downright terrifying. Picture any spooky old lady you've ever seen, take about 20 pounds off her, give her a Bible to thump and a pair of henchmen to command and you have Miss Marie L'Angelle. Even more frightening is Jody, a tough-as-nails farm hand that's loyal to Miss L'Angelle to the core and one of the most evil characters ever to grace the pages of a comic book. From the moment Jody steps into a panel, you know this guy is bad news. His actions involving Jesse's family come to light in the form of flashbacks and we quickly learn that he's an evil, evil man. To make matters worse, Jesse's all-powerful voice of God doesn't work on Jody or anyone else on this plantation.
This volume mostly serves as a back story mostly. We learn how Tulip started working as a gun for hire when she ran into Cassidy in the previous volume. We also learn a bit more about Jesse and how he became a preacher in a small southern town. It seems that his grandmother had a lot to do with it. She has a power over him and no matter how hard he fights it, she keeps bringing him back down.
Jesse's family is just one half of this volume though. The second has Jesse and Tulip meeting up with Cassidy and tracking down some drug dealers responsible for making Cassidy's girlfriend overdose. Remember what I said about the "American-ness" of Jesse? That's seen in full force here as he busts his way into a depraved sex party and sets things right. Ennis is in his element with this scene. He's known for over-the-top action with a lot of dark humor and this is no different. A perfect example comes in a piece of dialogue from Jesus De Sade, the person in charge of this orgy: "Ah, Demi, I do hope I'll have the pleasure of urinating on your cleavage later?" That's the tip of the iceberg. Seriously.
The art by Steve Dillon is what it is, unfortunately. It continues to be drab and unimaginative. Sure, the basic forms are there but every person looks like every other person. The guy is just not good at drawing people. If you put a wig on Jody you get Tulip. They're all the same! The covers drawn by Glenn Fabry continue to shine as each issue begins. Some of them are a bit cartoonish in the size and shape of the characters, but they all look stunning regardless. It's a shame that Fabry couldn't do more of the art for the series.
The second volume of Preacher doesn't lose any steam as it continues this story. If you get to the end of the third issue collected here and you don't either drop the book or turn the page faster than you've ever flipped a page before, something's wrong with you. The seeds planted here regarding the Grail add more intrigue to the story because you know that everything is just going to get bigger, badder, and messier. The Church is interested in Jesse and they have some secrets of their own. Plus the Saint of Killers is still on the preacher's trail, not to mention the kid with an arse for a face. Jesse's road trip search for God is just getting started.
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