First published within a single compilation volume back in January of 1997, ‘Preacher Vol 3: Proud Americans’ was written by Garth Ennis with artwork by Steve Dillon.  The compilation volume contained all nine of the original comics from the third series (issues 18 - 26), along with an introduction by popular illusionist Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller fame).

DLS Synopsis:
Reverend Jesse Custer never knew all that much about his father.  He’d been shot and killed when Jesse was just a five-year-old boy.  As such, his memories of his father – John Custer – were somewhat cloudy.  Had been washed-out over time.  But Jesse knew he still loved him.  Loved and missed him.

However, it was whilst Jesse waited for his flight to France at an airport bar that he happened upon one of his father’s old comrades from his time serving in Vietnam.  A man who introduced himself as Billy “Space” Baker.  An ex-veteran who had nothing but admiration and respect for Jesse’s father.  And although it was a story he’d never told anyone before, Billy Baker knew it was time to tell the story.  To let Jesse know what sort of man John Custer was.  A man to be proud of.

Although with the announcement of Jesse’s flight for Paris leaving imminently, their conversation is reluctantly brought to an end.  And then Jesse is off to France.  Off to Masada where he knows Herr Starr and the leader of The Grail - Allfather D’Aronique – have Jesse’s friend Cassidy captive.

They may not have known each other all that long, but Jesse knows he can’t leave Cassidy to die at the hands of The Grail.  He knows they will be expecting him.  That they only have Cassidy as prisoner because they want Jesse.  But he has little choice.  Cassidy risked his own neck for Jesse.  Now it’s time to return the favour.

But The Grail have their own plans.  Unbeknown to Allfather D’Aronique, Herr Starr has been conspiring to orchestrate a different future.  But in order to do so, he needs Jesse on side.  Not an easy task.  But with what he has chained up in the Masada’s deep cellar – very possibly an achievable one…

DLS Review:
By now strong bonds between our three principal protagonists (Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy) have well-and-truly cemented themselves.  So it’s no surprise that our favourite preacher is off to France to go head-to-head with The Grail and somehow, hopefully bring his blood-drinking vampire friend back.

However, before we get into the thick of this action, we have a couple of chapters where we learn about Jesse’s father – John Custer – and his experience fighting as a United States Marine at Vietnam.  The story’s a typical ‘Nam style tale – akin to ‘Platoon’ (1986), ‘Full Metal Jacket’ (1987), ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979) etc.  It’s a tightly written mini-story unto itself, providing a bit of background on Jesse’s family and through his father, fleshing Jesse himself out more.

After this it’s off to France, and following a brief roadtrip to Masada, it’s time for Jesse to go into the thick of things alone and rescue good ole Cassidy (who’s being tortured by a dickless thug with a fuck tonne of pent-up aggression in his system).

For this particular storyline writer Garth Ennis gets his nails dug into the whole Catholicism commentary that’s been ticking away in the story’s underbelly for quite a while.  Here we see the beloved Allfather D’Aronique – a grotesquely fat pope like figure - calling the shots for The Grail.  The hideously bloated leader is cold-heated and callous in his guidance.  Willing for his followers to suffer and die for their cause with little to no reason for doing so.  However, it’s with the current descendent of the ‘pure bloodline’ where Ennis really gets the boot in.  The witless teenager is the product of centuries of inbreeding – resulting in a severely retarded young lad who is nevertheless supposed to be The Grail’s destiny.  To quote the straight-talking Herr Starr “After two thousand years of keeping them breeding inside the one bloodline, we’re lucky the bastard doesn’t have antennae…you can’t fuck your sister and expect much good to come of it”.

It’s all typical Preacher stuff.  But what probably works best in this particular volume is the amount of filling in of the backstory that Ennis does.  Here we see much more about the courtship of the angel and demon that created Genesis and saw God abandoning heaven.  We also get to learn a little more about The Saint Of Killers and his mission.  And to top it off, after all the smoke’s blown over from the fight at Masada, we learn pretty much everything there is to know about Cassidy’s backstory.

All in all this third volume is an important instalment in the ‘Preacher’ series.  It explains and reveals a lot - possibly the most out of all the books thus far.  Yes there’s potentially a tad less action and violence than you’d usually get compared with other Preacher stories, but that doesn’t detract from how compelling a read it is.  But most importantly, if you’re planning on working your way through the Preacher books, then this volume is absolutely vital reading.  It’s the one that fills in the gaps.  The one that sets down the backstories.  It’s the one that finishes bringing the characters to life.

The graphic novel runs for a total of 231 pages (which includes a 4 page introduction by Penn Jillette).

© DLS Reviews





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