Crisis of Faith: The Struggle to Believe in ‘Preacher’

[29 September 2010]

By Monte Williams

The word “fuck” appears 1,758 times in Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. Some of the more creative variations include fuggin’, thuck (when the speaker’s face has been removed), huck (when the speaker’s teeth have been kicked out), fooking (when the speaker is Irish), fuh-fuh-fuh (when the speaker is paralyzed), a “fu” followed next panel by a “ck” (when the speaker watches someone get shot mid-word), plus a huggk (when the speaker is gagged), and even a drawn-out version that takes up an entire three-panel page; the letter u appears 48 times in that one (the speaker is falling off a cliff). 

Jesse Custer the eponymous clergyman says “fuck” a lot. So does his girlfriend, Tulip, a little girl raised by her daddy to love guns, until Daddy gets shot during a hunting accident and Tulip learns to hate guns… until she becomes a hitwoman. Jesse’s pal Cassidy says “fuck” more than any other character in the series, and indeed my favorite use of the word is probably this inspired declaration by Cassidy, not just Jesse’s friend but also an Irish vampire: “Oh fuck. It’s God.”

In a special issue dedicated to Cassidy (collected in the Dixie Fried graphic novel), “fuck” appears 56 times; at least once per page until page eight, which features no dialogue at all.

Even the angels of Heaven say “fuck” in Preacher, a popular but controversial late ‘90s comic book series which includes 66 issues plus a half-dozen “specials” (non-continuity tales), all collected in nine graphic novel paperbacks with striking painted covers by Glenn Fabry. The plot of the long, engaging, uneven series concerns Jesse Custer’s quest for God. Specifically, Custer has a superpower of sorts called “The Word”, which gives his every command the absolute authority of God’s word; if Jesse Custer told you to put a gun to your head and pull the trigger, you would not hesitate to obey. (His eyes helpfully turn an angry red whenever he uses his power.)

Jesse’s gift quickly leads him to discover that God has vacated his throne, and so Jesse and his two unlikely companions set off to find Him. As Cassidy puts it, “You’re lookin’ for God—I mean literally, not some soul-searchin’ bullshit.”

Spawn creator Todd McFarlane once said that a hero is only as good as his villain, and so by making Spawn fight the devil (or a devil, at least), McFarlane was trying to subtly imply that his creation was superior to all other superheroes. Clearly, Preacher creators Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon know something Todd McFarlane doesn’t know: if you wish to create an imposing, insurmountable David-and-Goliath scenario for your hero, then God, not Satan, is the greatest villain of all.

Here, then, are some of the many things Preacher has to say about God:

Tulip, who freely admits “I think He’s a piece of shit,” asks Jesse, “What will you do when you get the Almighty by the balls?” Custer—who refers to God at one point as “the good fuckin’ Lord” and later demands, “Where is He?! Where the fuck is God?!” and boasts, “God don’t stand a fuckin’ chance”—offers a succinct reply: “Squeeze.”

An angel protests Jesse’s callous blasphemy by insisting, “But he is the Lord of Hosts!”  Jesse answers, “Yeah, an’ he can wait his goddamn turn.”

God Himself offers a privileged, oblivious protest of His own: “But it’s my creation…!” In response, the longsuffering Saint of Killers—a brutal murderer in the Old West, manipulated by God into replacing the Angel of Death as “the patron saint of slaughter and assassination”—says, “It’s outgrown you.”

Not to be outdone, Cassidy cheerfully offers the following: “Having met the Good Lord face to face, I think I can honestly say he’s a bit of a prick.” He also asks a fellow bloodsucker, “What’re yeh scared’ve crosses for, ‘cause some bollicks got nailed to one a couple’ve thousand years ago?”

Cassidy eventually admits, “I still can’t get me head round it. Findin’ God, punishin’ God—it’s too big. Too abstract.”  Jesse Custer is dismissive: “Only if you allow it to be. He did wrong. He fucked people up. He has to be made to face it. You look at it that way, He’s just another son of a bitch.” (The dialogue and captions in comic books are written in all caps; I do not know whether Jesse Custer—or Garth Ennis—would approve of my proper-noun status for “He”.)

Meanwhile, and perhaps most resonantly, the Saint of Killers marvels aloud, “Why can a man not turn to doing good without the Lord getting all mixed up in it?”

Preacher’s boldest statement about God might be a panel with no dialogue or narration at all: God is shot dead. This is of course presented as a happy ending.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith, in his introduction to Preacher’s second volume, Until the End of the World, writes, “As a man who has an unflappable, fervent, and devout faith in God… I know—in my heart and soul—the Lord to be mighty, just, loving, and righteous… and a huge fan of Preacher.”

Smith wrote the above fairly early in Preacher’s run. It would be interesting to see whether he still feels this way, especially in light of Jesse Custer’s mission statement: “God has to go… He deserves it for the things He’s done, but more than that the world just plain needs to be rid of Him.”

(To give you a sense of how much pop cultural time has elapsed since Smith’s misguided but well-intended comments about God’s favorable stance on Preacher, his post-intro bio mentions the imminent release of Chasing Amy, then continues, “His next assignment is putting words in the mouth of Clark Kent and his Kryptonian alter ego in the new Superman movie from Warner Bros.”)

Really, though, for all its “We’re gonna get you, God!” swagger, Preacher doesn’t seem to have a lot of time to bother with the Almighty. Consider: the first line in the first issue of Preacher is, “This where you’re gonna start lookin’ for Him, Jesse?” And the final word from that debut issue is “Bang”. Really, that about sums up God’s role in Preacher. God serves the same function in Preacher that Montana serves in Lonesome Dove; He is a destination for our heroes to aim for so that they can change throughout their journey—or not change, in the case of the characters in Preacher, as I’ll discuss later. God is there for our protagonists to rail against and to curse and to threaten, and yet he is never really there in any meaningful way. God is mentioned repeatedly, and He pops up for the occasional cameo appearance, if only to remind the reader that He does indeed exist—at least in the Preacher universe. And He also serves as a convenient deus ex machina a time or three. And then He is shot dead: “Bang.”

He’s not the only one. The (many) shootouts in Preacher remind me of an old Gary Larson Far Side strip concerning an Old West sheriff admonishing his posse before a gunfight: “If you do get plugged, for gosh sakes don’t just slump over and die. Put some drama into it and throw yourself screaming from the edge.”

You see, no one in Preacher gets shot without physical drama to spare. You rightly respond, “Surely there should be physical drama when someone is shot,” but in the pages of Preacher, most bullets seem to strike the face, with the result that “fuck” hardly appears more often than flaps of skin that used to be noses and gaping, bloody caverns in place of jaws. I was reminded of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, and while I happen to think Natural Born Killers is a brilliant film, it’s only a couple hours long; if it was made into, say, a long-running HBO series, then the over-the-top violence would quickly lose whatever impact it has, both as clever commentary and as simple cultural shock-and-awe.

Preacher was published by Vertigo, a popular dumping ground for DC’s non-superhero comics, most of which are deemed too controversial to share a publishing logo with Batman and Aquaman and the like. Vertigo was a popular imprint in the ‘90s, because no matter how fantastic the plots, the characters in a given Vertigo at least speak like real people… or more like real people than Flash or Green Lantern, anyway.

More often than not, Preacher takes this ostensibly realistic approach to dialogue too far; as noted above, even the angels in Heaven drop the F-bomb. To cite another example, when a detective approaches a hysterical, grieving widow and asks, “Is this your husband’s scrotum?” one is startled right out of the story, not because the writing is edgy or daring but because the dialogue has become distractingly implausible. That the detective in question is a vicious homophobe who turns out to be a gay connoisseur of S&M might seem to justify his distracted, gruff conduct with the widow—it must be taxing, living with such self-hatred—but in reality it just makes the plot feel as tired as most of the dialogue.

The problem with the kind of stupid humor that permeates Preacher (a hillbilly engaging in sexual congress with a chicken, say, or a self-inflicted shotgun-blast victim drooling and saying “For sure!”—or “Fuh shuh!”—to every question) is that such humor makes it difficult for the reader to invest in the supposed intensity of the dramatic scenes that surround all the stupidity. Likewise, the problem with excessive profanity is that there is no impact during those times when profanity is truly warranted. For example, Jesse Custer visits his deranged, abusive family members, who were responsible for the murder of Jesse’s mother and father when Jesse was just a child. He tells them, “I owe you pissant white trash cocksucking sons of bitches all the hurt in the fuckin’ world,” and it’s got almost no power, because he talks that way to everyone he meets, from his girlfriend to his granny to his God.

A Profanity More Powerful Than the F-Word

Compare this to Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, which features no profanity whatsoever until Inigo Montoya finally delivers his oft-practiced speech of vengeance to his father’s killer. When the killer pleas, “I’ll give you anything you want,” Montoya responds, “I want my father back, you son of a bitch.” That one use of the phrase “son of a bitch” is more powerful than any hundred shouts of “Fuck!” in Preacher.

Still, the series does boast a number of inviting opening lines:

“First time John Wayne spoke to me I was five years old, not long after seein’ my daddy get shot through the head.” (Issue 4.)

“Well, well. If it isn’t the woman that nobody fucks with.” (Issue 33.)

“Life without genitalia, day fifty-one.” (Issue 59.)

“Between the stink of my shit an’ puke an’ piss an’ the noise from what was crawlin’ around outside, my week in the coffin kind of sucked.” (Issue 10.) (You would expect that a line about having spent a week in a coffin would be uttered by the vampire, but not in this case.)

Ennis has a way with dialogue in general, if only sporadically. The first time God serves as a deus ex machina is when he brings Tulip back to life after Jesse watches his family members shoot her. The lovers don’t talk much when she first returns; they’re too busy screwing. Eventually, though, Jesse says, “I kinda skipped this before, ‘cause I figured you mightn’t wanna talk about it—But what was it like gettin’ shot through the head?”

That sounds like just the sort of unintentionally tactless question a man like Jesse Custer would ask a person. It also has the pleasant effect of making Jesse’s relationship with Tulip feel believable, which is pretty important to establish after an otherwise absentee God just brought her back to life; one must enjoy quite a level of intimacy with another person to feel comfortable asking a question like “What was it like gettin’ shot through the head?”

The dialogue also shines when the characters playfully taunt one another in what’s often an endearing fashion. Cassidy admits at one point that he might be a bit insecure, to which Jesse replies, “I hate that goddamned word. Insecure: goddamn late-Eighties pop-psychology asshole’s fuckin’ buzzword.” Soon, Cassidy suggests that perhaps Jesse needs “a wee chat wi’ his inner child”. And later, “Yeh might just be in denial… get some downtime an’ really try to process yer issues.”

Or there’s the scene wherein our heroic trio crashes a sex party in search of bad types, and Cassidy is accosted by a goth chick who says, “Hit me! Bite me! I want you to bite me!” and Cass replies, “Heh heh heh! No yeh don’t!”

The host of this party, Jesus de Sade promotes himself thusly: “We in the Gomorrah people are interested primarily in physical gratification: in smashing through the boundaries of base and boring everyday society. In tasting of forbidden fruit, and luxuriating in our defiance of an old, defeated god.”

Jesse Custer is less than impressed: “You mean you fuck a lot.”

I don’t mind Jesse’s use of the F-bomb there; that word can add a lot to a joke, when used sparingly. This here is better, though, and it boasts not a single utterance of the F-word: Jesse Custer visits the Empire State Building and marvels at the New York City timeline (complete with Twin Towers), and he marvels, “It looks like… every goddamn movie I ever seen of the place… like every movie they ever made about here’s really happened, somewhere way down in all that smoky streetlight.”

Tulip gets a few opportunities to shine as well, though often as not her buddy Amy steals the scene, as in this exchange:

Tulip: Well, you know how Jesse makes such a big deal about honor and loyalty? I mean, it’s a very guy thing to do… I guess it’s a girl thing, too. But we don’t have to turn everything into an ideal, we just get on with it.

Amy: We don’t read enough Hemingway.

Unfortunately, there’s also lots of dialogue like, “Your father’s severed penis is stuck in his colon” and, “I will have vengeance… and if I have a face like an arse—so be it! I will become Arseface!”

Such nonsense is what drags Preacher down from the lofty heights down to the gutter, where it belongs.

I first read parts of Preacher more than a decade ago, when I reviewed the first two volumes (Gone to Texas and Until the End of the World) for my college newspaper. I was almost angry at how disappointing it was; I’d heard much in the way of hyperbolic praise from my fellow comic book nerds, who’d never led me astray before. My review ended with a wistful plea: “If only Jesse and his Word power were real, he could stare at Ennis and Dillon with his red, glowing eyes and say, ‘Moderate.’”

Then a funny thing happened. I saw a weary copy of Preacher’s third volume at a used bookstore near my home a year or three later, and I figured $8 wasn’t too much to pay to watch the story circle the drain for another ten issues or so, and… well…

The third Preacher book, Proud Americans struck me as such a dramatic improvement over its predecessors that I immediately purchased the remaining six volumes. Years later, looking back at the series with relatively fresh eyes, it takes only three pages to see why Proud Americans broke through my skepticism: Jesse Custer runs into a Vietnam buddy of his dad’s, who offers to tell Jesse about the father he can’t remember. For once, Jesse is neither flippant nor dismissive nor sarcastic nor ironic. For once, after nearly twenty issues filled with melodramatic posturing, Jesse manages to appear engaged without being profane. Finally, Jesse Custer is quietly earnest:

Billy “Space” Baker: Jesse… do you wanna know a little about your daddy? ‘Bout what happened to us three in the ‘Nam? ‘Cause I hope I ain’t outta line here, but I think he’d of been cool about you hearin’ it.”

Jesse: Yes sir, I’d like that more’n anything.

Later, a mellow scene featuring star-struck marines meeting John Wayne is richer and more satisfying than all the combined vengeance and wrath in Gone to Texas and Until the End of the World.

Proud Americans is not without its tired gags, including a really, really fat villain who’s apparently supposed to be entertaining simply because he’s fat, plus the inbred descendant of Jesus Christ. You might expect that a writer could do a lot with a power like Jesse Custer’s, and in Proud Americans, Garth Ennis does not disappoint. Though Preacher is not a superhero comic book, Preacher #24 (collected in Proud Americans) features arguably the all-time most clever and inspired use of a superpower:

Jesse Custer enters a chamber where a moody mobster named Frankie the Eunuch is torturing Cassidy. Frankie immediately points his gun at Jesse and says, “First word outta your mouth I swear to fuckin’ God you’re dead before the second. I know you, motherfucker… I know what you can do! One fuckin’ word, motherfucker! One word!”

Jesse’s eyes glow red, and he offers a lone command: “Miss.”

That single panel featuring Jesse Custer ordering a gunman to miss is what turned me into a Preacher fan. Unfortunately, there are six more collections to wade through after that delightful moment, and they’re maddeningly uneven. Proud Americans did not represent the start of an escalating improvement, as I’d hoped. Instead, Garth Ennis seems to improve in the same manner Marilyn Manson improves: intermittently, at best.

The fourth volume in the series is called Ancient History, and it exhibits a particularly stark plummet in quality. Collecting a trio of Preacher miniseries, Ancient History begins with a personable, enthusiastic introduction by Garth Ennis, and a stirring, giddy love letter of an opening two-page spread, featuring narration that mixes real-life figures of the American West with such fictional legends as Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, until even the narrator admits, “It’s been so long since then that I no longer know just which of them are truth… and which are only legends.”

From there, alas, it’s pretty much consistently downhill. Some scenes are set in Hell, during which time the story takes on some of that lumbering, early-‘90s, desperately grim ‘n gritty feel that seemed to pervade every comic book in those days. At its worst, parts of Ancient History almost read like a forgotten story from the pages of those Spawn comics I mentioned earlier.

Volume five, Dixie Fried begins with a special issue dedicated to Jesse’s good friend Cassidy, though the plot mostly just serves as a foundation for a series of comical mockeries of Anne Rice’s overwrought Vampire Chronicles. Cass meets a fellow vampire for the first time, and is disheartened to see that his fellow creature of the night is a wanker (or, as Cassidy puts it, “Wanker. Noun. One who wanks.”). Cassidy’s interactions with the pretentious Eccarius are frequently hilarious:

Eccarius: How could they know the torment that we face? Of never quite belonging, always looking in from out here in the cold… the exquisite hell of a life both blessed and cursed…

Cassidy: Aye. Torment.

Eccarius is fond of pretentious phrases like “christened in crimson” and “a nativity of moonlight and nightmare.” He gives a whole page-long speech filled with such gibberish, only to realize he is alone; Cassidy has joined a nearby crowd of drunken fratboys chanting “Show your tits!” to a girl on a nearby balcony.

One of Eccarius’s human groupies is an obvious jab at Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and Coraline. He even writes a poem for Eccarius—Cassidy notes, “Now how did I know it wasn’t gonna rhyme?”—which ends with the word “dream,” a clear nod to Gaiman’s Morpheus character from the Sandman series. This playful knock at Gaiman would carry more weight if Gaiman’s Sandman wasn’t so vastly superior to Preacher. Still, it’s good for a laugh.

The Most Powerful 'Word'

What’s most notable about Dixie Fried—which begins with a tale of Cassidy at his most lovable and amusing—is that it’s where we first start to sense that Cassidy isn’t quite the great guy we like to think he is. This is a refreshing development that goes a long way toward preventing Preacher from becoming completely stagnant; in volume six, titled War in the Sun, Jesse brags to Tulip, “None of that ever changed me, not who I really am. Nothin’ does.” And that’s the problem.

Cassidy changes for the worse as we discover what a cruel, selfish shit he is—and kudos to Ennis for taking such a daring step with arguably the most charming character in the series—but at least he changes. Jesse only changes in the sense that, for every ten scenes of macho mayhem, he might show his sentimental side once or twice. These displays of sentiment quickly lose impact, however, because they almost always revolve around the same character: Tulip, who undergoes no more significant change than Jesse.

Tulip’s monopoly on Jesse’s affection goes mostly unchallenged until issue 42 (collected in Salvation, Preacher’s seventh volume), which ends with the greatest cliffhanger in the entire series. Jesse has been betrayed by Tulip and Cassidy, and so he becomes a wanderer. He ends up in a small Texas town named Salvation, where he meets a gruff older woman. During a conversation between the two, the woman is surprised to turn around and find Jesse standing close and studying her intently. As when he told Frankie the Eunuch to miss, Jesse here needs only one word to prove how much Ennis can make a reader care about his characters despite his lesser impulses as a writer. Here is the cliffhanger: “Mom?”

A hug means more than all the bloodshed we’ve witnessed thus far, and yet Ennis and Dillon don’t seem to learn their lesson. A scene like the mother and child reunion is inevitably followed by a Nazi dominatrix, or a villain who combines various cuts of meat into a gigantic sculpture of a woman and then fucks it, or a trio of retarded hillbilly cannibals living in a coal mine, or Arseface—the gunshot kid who always says “fuh shuh!”—visiting his furruh uhzmuhyuh (“fairy arsemother”) or Jesse Custer watching his soul mate and his best friend betray him with a kiss and responding by falling backward onto the ground like a zany neighbor character fainting in a tired sitcom.

Through most of its run, Preacher puts forth a decidedly conservative take on the world. Jesse Custer often comes across like the king in Braveheart, who unceremoniously tosses his son’s gay lover to his death. We can sympathize with Jesse’s disgust when he realizes, for example, that he’s holding a man’s dildo. But while I would feel disgust at the realization of where the thing had been, one gets the sense that Jesse is just disgusted that a man would even have a dildo.

However, in many sections of Salvation, Preacher raises the liberal flag. But whatever the politics, violence is always the solution. (Yet again I am reminded of Spawn, which solved everything from child predators to racism through stylish, vigilante murder.)

The eighth volume, All Hell’s A-Coming is easily the best book since Proud Americans, though the standalone story “Tall in the Saddle” is an ill fit. All the special issues should have been combined into a single collection so that the remaining volumes would feel less disjointed.

Ignoring “Tall in the Saddle”, All Hell’s A-Coming does a bang-up job of fleshing out Cassidy’s fall from grace as the reader’s favorite character; imagine if J.K. Rowling had decided to reveal in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that Ron Weasley had a history of abusing girls and betraying his loved ones.

Tulip’s friend Amy describes Cassidy as a “nervous little boy”. Another woman says he’s “the nicest piece a’ shit I ever did meet”. Cassidy spent years beating women and turning tricks to support his heroin habit. Once, he hit a woman so hard that she lost an eye; one wonders whether, from Jesse Custer’s perspective, the low point in Cassidy’s sordid life wasn’t crippling an innocent woman, but sucking another man’s dick.

Finally, Jesse Custer discovers that Cassidy has been essentially keeping Tulip in a drugged stupor for months, arguably raping her. Issue 57 ends on an unusually subtle and understated cliffhanger: Cassidy at the door. Nothing is said, because nothing needs saying. I’ve hinted before at how much Garth Ennis can accomplish with a single word when he’s at his best, and the cliffhanger finalé to issue 57 proves that Ennis and Dillon make excellent use of silent panels, as well—there simply aren’t enough of them.

The ninth and final volume of the Preacher series is called Alamo. Alamo proves that Preacher isn’t Jesse Custer’s story. It’s Cassidy’s. This is confirmed for good in issue 66, the series finale, wherein Cassidy says to Jesse, “I can’t help wondering if maybe the big job you took on wasn’t really about God and everything, about saving the world or whatever. If maybe it was more about saving me.”  It’s probably no coincidence that Proud Americans, the greatest book in the entire series, features a number of issues exploring Cassidy’s origins.

Preacher is not just Cassidy’s story. Preacher is Cassidy. It’s vulgar and crass and stupid and stunted, and it seemingly cannot resist screwing up its own potential at every turn. Yet there are enough glimmers of goodness and greatness lurking beneath all the shit that you feel compelled to keep giving it another chance, even as it’s spitting incest and vomit and Arsefaces in your face.

Like Cassidy, Preacher finally makes you proud in the end. Indeed, a final gesture of Cassidy’s even brought tears to my eyes. (The last page made me cry a little, too, not least because of its title, the last of many Preacher salutes to Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove.) The curious thing about the gesture in question is this: all Cassidy really does is tell someone the truth and admit he’d lied before. What is it in humans that makes us so enamored when bad people try to do good?

One thing I’ve wondered about for ten years or more is Jesse Custer’s power. It’s called The Word, which was also the name of the city newspaper that employed Spider Jerusalem in Transmetropolitan, created by Garth Ennis’s friend, Warren Ellis. Is there some subtle, secret connection here, or was Warren Ellis just having some fun and sending a nod his best mate’s way?

Speaking of Transmetropolitan, its artist, Darick Robertson provides a consistent, grounding look to that series, and ignoring the guest artists who contributed to the various Preacher specials and miniseries, Steve Dillon does the same for Preacher. However, flipping back to Until the End of the World for reference after finishing Alamo proved to be rather startling; Dillon’s illustrations featured far more cross-hatched detail in the early issues, with the strange result that the characters seem to grow younger and cleaner as the story progresses.

Otherwise, Dillon’s illustrations, always lively and intriguing and intelligently composed—if also too often redundant thanks to Ennis’s scripts mandating gunfights every third issue or so—are almost too consistent, at times. Steve Dillon’s portraits all tend to blend together; everyone seems to share the same scowl, and there’s something in the eyes that makes all the characters appear to be distantly related to one another. In Heaven, a warrior breed of angels called the Seraphi are pupilless, which is actually nice, ‘cause it means they’re the only characters who don’t resemble every other character.

Another question: do the gods of other faiths exist in the Preacher universe, too?  God is real; is Buddha? Allah? I assume Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon are atheists, but if so, they clearly decided that it’d be more subversive to skewer God within an He-does-exist context. Also, there is an odd Babel touch in issue 20: The Word only works on those who understand English. Presumably, a deaf person would be immune too, then; at one point, a woman successfully evades the Word’s power simply by covering her ears. This seems to be quite a reckless loophole.

It seems to me that most Preacher fans discovered the series at a young age. Back in the ‘90s, its defenders would probably have suggested that Preacher’s every gunshot and titty shot and F-bomb was a knowing, brilliant parody. If it were released today, would those same fans still admire its armchair vigilante posturing? Or would its fans discover that Preacher is mostly just ugly and silly and—for all its giant-toppling attacks on pretentiousness—painfully self-serious? (This doesn’t contradict my assertion that the series is filled with far too much lazy, lowbrow humor; it really is a perplexing combination of stupid humor and tiresome self-seriousness.)

If Preacher’s longtime fans were to take a fresh look at its nine uneven volumes today, would nostalgia keep them from noticing its flaws, or would they banish it to the realm of other crude, corny, ostensibly shocking ‘90s relics like South Park, Attitude-era WWF shows and Kevin Smith movies?

Speaking of Kevin Smith, I quoted his Until the End of the World introduction earlier, and I’d like to do so again. Smith suggests that, “This is not a book full of sensationalistic crap.” This from an introduction to a volume featuring chicken-fucking hillbillies, countless characters being shot through the head (including the protagonist’s father on the very first page), a depraved party for wealthy perverts where one of the guests sings “Let’s fist again, like we did last summer,” someone getting a bicycle parked in his ass, and 252 appearances of the word “fuck” in 255 comic book pages.

I’m reminded of pro wrestler Mick Foley, who once admonished his fans for writing “Foley is God” on their signs, but admitted that “Foley is Good” wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate. In closing, I offer a more accurate version of Kevin Smith’s introduction:

This is a book full of sensationalistic crap. But it’s also good.

Sometimes.

Monte Williams has a Bachelors Degree in Communications. Would you like fries with that?


Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/131193-crisis-of-faith-the-struggle-to-believe-in-preacher/