So I guess the end of last year was an important step for a lot of Preacher fans, they’ve had rumours for a long while, the film that never appeared (even if we did get an amazing makeup trial of arseface) and even a disreputed HBO show in the early part of the year. Yet finally it seemed fans were given what they wanted with the news of a confirmed HBO adaptation with Ennis and Dillon involved in the process. So what with the announcement I thought there was no time like the present to actually get around to finishing reading Preacher.
I think Preacher is one of the top 3 three books pimped out of comic connections (if we ignore Glyn and Batman: Hush), along with Transmetropolitan and Scott Pilgrim, well in my experience anyway. All of these are deserving, but in my 3 years of buying at the shop I only had 4 volumes of the Preacher Saga, thankfully I knew a guy who I could borrow my missing volumes off and in a week where I seemed to be actively looking for distractions I read the whole thing, I should of really been preparing for a presentation.
So what did I think of the whole thing?
Well I came away having enjoyed, that’s a given, but I felt it really wasn’t as great as everyone makes out. I tried to explain it to Sid a week or so back but I really couldn’t figure out the specifics of why, all I managed to really verbalise was that it was possibly the best Ennis I have read but not the best Vertigo book I’ve read. So I’ve had a week now over the giftmass period with it in the back of my mind to try and figure out why I didn’t rate it as fantastic and slowly these pieces of understanding have started to piece themselves together in my mind.
Firstly I think the first two thirds of the main series were fantastic, it was gross, funny, and importantly intelligent, all the makings of a book that by rights I should love. But it’s everything else that dragged the book down for me from this.
Firstly the tie ins, I’m sorry but these were a huge waste of time in my opinion, you can argue they added background and you can argue that they weren’t necessary for my reading. The point is they were in the volumes, I read them in order, and each time I reached one I got more frustrated. They just feel like cash ins without the energy behind the main series, never really adding anything, I felt nothing for the Saint of Killers origin, The Good Old Boys was just plain awful and taken as a satire I think it’s even worse, One Man's War and Tall in the Saddle were the indulgent cash ins in my mind, but I will concede to The Story of You-Know-Who, which did raise a lot of smiles from myself.
But if I ignore these, my big problem comes with the run up to the conclusion of the series and the eventual ‘twist’ that came slamming into the narrative like a brick wall that I had seen for the past issues but couldn’t avoid. It was this ending that brought down the series, and as old as the book is, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, which you all should do, because aside from the problems I have with it, I still think it’s a great read.
I began reading the series feeling as if the whole think was this epic film in my mind, it had these strong characterisations and a fantastic story to tell, volume two’s ‘All in the Family’ is possibly the best character arc of a comic I have ever read, but when the conclusion hit it just left me feeling that the end was just like a badly written episode of Buffy.
I guess I possibly came into it expecting more than I should of, but it was something I couldn’t escape from, everyone seems to love this book and I always have it recommended to me. I think it could also come from the speed I read it, I didn’t want the story to end, and when it did and in the way it did, that could only have increased my negative view of it. If I was to have read it month by month I would have been ultimatley have distanced the story to it’s earlier issues, but when I only read them six days earlier it becomes very easy to draw a comparison.
Even with all my criticism though I can’t figure how it could have been done better, the conclusion is what had to happen, and it’s execution is fine, I just feel that it was on a very different level to the rest of the series. Hopefully when I come back to reading it in a year or so I can approach it again and with all the build up in my mind gone, read it and see how it stands then.
But through my views of its tie in’s and final conclusion I still think it’s a great and crucial read, and of corse it did leave me with a number of thoughts on the HBO project though.
Having had it already said that the whole think was pitched with an almost ‘look here 66 issues and the special tie ins, perfect 7 series structure’ attitude, if it really is taken as an issue an episode, or even the majority of an episode, the adaptation of the The Good Old Boys will be so jarring that it will probably put of a lot of viewers, the only way I can see this working is as a last third added along with some shorter Preacher episodes.
If we ever reach Salvation without it being cancelled, it’s going to make one awesome series, however different it would appear that the show has turned to viewers, with the whole concept changing for a good while.
As most people are already thinking I guess, the projects next hurdle is it’s casting.
And finally, the elitist within me will be really pissed if they start selling ‘Fuck Communism’ lighters so that anyone who likes the show owns one.
So I guess I’m open to any comments you all have, I can’t be the only who had problems with the conclusion can I?
Incidentally these things are starting to turn into my negative view on books and ideas Sid really enjoys looking back at my other posts, this, Kingdom Come, Whedon on Runaways. Thankfully we both agree on Fables.