Preacher: Dixie Fried
Garth Ennis, writer,
Steve Dillon, artist
(DC Comics/Vertigo, 1998;
reprinted from Preacher
issues 27-33, 1997-98)

The fifth Preacher collection opens with Cassidy: Blood & Whiskey, another Ennis-Dillon one-shot providing insight into a character's past. In this case, the target is the Irish vampire Cassidy and his brush with another creature of the night in New Orleans.

The story is brilliant, and it brilliantly puts the Anne Rice set in their place with its portrayal of Eccarius, a vampire with dyed hair and red-tinted contact lenses and a basement full of gothic worshippers and "nightwalker" wannabees. Cassidy has no time for that sort of thing, and he sets about setting the misguided Eccarius on a livelier path. Sometimes, though, it's just too hard to break someone of an ingrained fantasy.

The story from the ongoing series then continues with Jesse and Tulip's reunion in New York City and Herr Starr's ongoing effort to bring Jesse into his fold and bring about global domination -- and to find a suitable wig or hat to hide a certain unflattering disfigurement from the previous storyline. Cassidy makes an unfortunate confession to Tulip, and things proceed from there.

There's a lot of talking in this portion of the series, but never too much that the story loses focus or interest. Then Arseface returns -- you remember Arseface, right? If not, it's too much to recap, so go back and reread the early issues! -- and the gang ends up in New Orleans for some heavy voodoo. Of course, New Orleans was the setting of events in the Cassidy one-shot, and certain people still remember Cassidy with less than fondness....

Our own impressions of Cassidy change, too -- from the righteous dude of the opening story, he shifts into a very different person as we witness certain actions and learn more about his past. To say more would be saying too much. It's sufficient to close with a quote from DC's own marketeers on the back of the book, praising the story for "realistic characters, powerful images and a dose of gratuitous violence."

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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