Preacher: Until the End of the World
Garth Ennis, writer,
Steve Dillon, artist
(DC Comics/Vertigo, 1997;
reprinted from Preacher
issues 8-17, 1995-96)

The saga of the fugitive Rev. Jesse Custer, his ex-lover Tulip and the Irish vampire Cassidy heats up in a big way in the second volume of Preacher. Until the End of the World begins with Jesse and Tulip bound for Texas to handle Tulip's angry former employer. But they're snatched by Jody and T.C. and taken to Jesse's boyhood home, Angelville, where Gran'ma awaits their arrival with sinister anticipation.

Tied to chairs and left alone with a death sentence on Tulip's head, Jesse finally tells the story of his childhood: how his mother fled Angelville, how his parents met and married, how Angelville caught up to them and yanked them back. He tells how his father was killed, and then later his mother. He speaks of a coffin at the bottom of a swamp, a frisky dog and a one-eyed friend named Billy-Bob. We learn of Jesse's eventual escape, how he and Tulip met, and how he ended up leaving her to become a small-town preacher.

We also learn what Gran'ma has planned for Jesse, and that Tulip stands in her way. Still, the good guys always get away unscathed, right?

After Jody makes good on his threat on one of the most devastating pages in comics history, we get cameo appearances by God and John Wayne. We get revenge and resurrection. We get one hell of a powerful tale, with Steve Dillon's incredible art supporting Garth Ennis's awesome text. And Jesse and Tulip even get a happy ending of sorts -- but the book isn't over yet.

Enter Jesus de Sade, the monarch of San Franciscan depravity. Enter Herr Starr and the Grail, a global organization with far-reaching power and superholy plans for the world. Enter Bob Glover and Freddy Allen, sexual investigators. (Don't ask me, just read the thing, OK?) Re-enter Cassidy and the Saint of Killers. And a very vicious cat.

Cassidy is on a mission to avenge the death of his old girlfriend, and that leads the trio straight into an encounter with extreme debauchery at de Sade's mansion. The Grail, hot for Jesse and his Genesis power, arrives in force but acquires the wrong prize. And readers are left waiting for volume 3.

Preacher continues to be a riveting, disturbing, blood-soaked and sex-filled story. It's not for the easily offended or the faint of heart, but those with the fortitude to read it will be very glad they did.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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