I had never read a PREACHER comic when AMC’s Preacher TV series premiered. I had heard about it from friends, and I once had a roommate with an extensive comic book collection who maintained that Preacher was her favorite comic of all time. I placed it in my mental to-read list, but that’s as far as I got. I had no idea what it was about, but when I heard a description for the AMC show, I did a figurative double-take.
I can't claim to know a lot about religion. My time spent in Sunday school and in various pews is far in the past. But I'm relatively certain about one thing when it comes to Catholicism: There are saints for everything. You can pray to the saint of travelers, the saint of sailors, the saint of animals, and yes, even the saint of dental diseases (it's St. Apollonia, in case you're curious and/or in need). But Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's PREACHER has a different sort of saint, one you won't discover in your Patron Saints 101 class—The Saint of Killers.
What does it mean to be a villain? Is it about intent? Is it about actions? What if those actions are terrible but driven by a righteous belief? These are questions I ask myself anytime I read a new story. I ask questions about the heroes, too. Sometimes—often, actually—I find the line between the hero's and villain's qualities to be thin. They both share traits in the same categories, and that's definitely been the case with Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's PREACHER.
It's been about three weeks since I first picked up PREACHER. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon have managed to consistently make me lose track of time with their words and images. They've also made me contort my arms into interesting angles as I've read the comic in coffee shops and other public places. Some panels aren't meant for the eyes of young passersby. Maybe most panels. And maybe I should limit reading PREACHER to the comforts of my couch.
After months of anticipation, Preacher exploded onto screens last Sunday. The premiere episode of AMC's adaptation of the comic by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon established a key difference from the source material with the final scene: Jesse Custer, a.k.a. Preacher, decided his purpose was to stay in Annville and save the souls of its citizens, of his flock. He doesn't know what happened to him or that he possesses the Word of God—he might suspect something is off, but he isn't fully aware. Not yet.