First published within a single compilation volume back in March of 1996, ‘Preacher Vol 1: Gone To Texas’ was written by Garth Ennis with artwork by Steve Dillon.  The compilation volume contained all seven of the original comics from the first series (issues 1 - 7) along with a foreword by author Joe R Lansdale.

DLS Synopsis:
Angels and demons were never meant to meet, let alone copulate.  But sometimes, some things happen that are beyond the laws of nature and heaven and hell.  Sometimes the will of the almighty and that of the deviant turn the tides of existence in ways it should never have gone.

That is how it all started.  The forbidden coupling of a demon and an angel that created an entity of both pure good and untold evil.  A monumentally powerful being the angels dubbed Genesis, who made God abandon Heaven upon its blasphemous creation.

But Genesis had escaped from heaven, seeking to join the spirit of mortal man.  If it succeeds, it is believed it would learn the secret ways of paradise as no other mortal has ever done.  Together, man and angelic-demon could bring about the end of humanity.  The end of the world.

Meanwhile, in the heart of Texas, the disillusioned Minister of a small-town church in Annville is giving another hungover sermon to his uncaring and increasingly hostile flock.  However, he’s barely started before a bolt of fiery power rips through the church and consumes his body, destroying the building and wiping out his entire congregation.

Nearby, a woman named Tulip O’Hare sees the explosion and goes to investigate.  Tulip has been down on her luck and had botched a hired hit on someone.  Luckily, as she hot-footed out of the vicinity, she managed to persuade a rough-looking Irish man loitering in the area to give her a ride out of there.  As luck would have it, the Irish guy turns out to be a blood-drinking vampire named Cassidy, and with the sun beating down on them, he’s taken to hiding under some tarpaulin in the back of the truck whilst Tulip gets behind the wheel.

Seeing the church exploding into a ball of flames, Tulip arrives at the scene of utter devastation to pull the Reverend Jesse Custer out of the remains of the church.  The two instantly recognise each other.  Some five years ago Custer had run out on Tulip whereupon he then joined the church.  This is the first time their paths have crossed since.  Whether fate has played a hand in the matter or not, neither are sure, but what Jesse does know is that Tulip’s mighty pissed with him.

Learning of his new found power through the converging of Genesis into himself, Reverend Jesse Custer plans to begin a search for God across the length and breadth of America.  But his task won’t be easy.  There are many out there who want to stop him.  None more so than the Patron Saint of Murderers and Assassins.  But luckily Custer isn’t alone in his quest.  He has his companions – Tulip and Cassidy – for better or worse…

DLS Review:
What do you get if you allow Garth Ennis to write whatever off-the-wall kind of story he wants?  Well, here’s a prime frigging example of the outrageously insane results.  The ‘Preacher’ graphic novels are something so utterly over-the-top, so ludicrously outlandish and drenched in wildly conceived pulp, that you can’t help but become addicted to the veritable maelstrom of madness that ensues.

This first volume contains the original seven comics, which pretty much lay the foundations for what’s to come with the series.  The first and fundamental aspect being in the almost reincarnation of Reverend Jesse Custer from the merging of his soul with that of the half-demon-half-angel Genesis.  This side of the story alone has enough potential in it to keep your interest piqued for a good ole while.  But then we have the introduction of his two companions – his ex-girlfriend Tulip (who’s also got plenty of her own baggage) and Cassidy (a carefree, alcohol swilling Irish lout who’s also a vampire).

These introductions understandably take up a good portion of the first volume.  However, Ennis doesn’t just leave it there.  Whilst the groundwork for establishing our three principal characters is being laid out, a handful of (initially) relatively minor subplots are gradually woven into the unfolding tale.

We have the main forward thrust of the story being the Preacher’s quest to literally find God.  But alongside this you have the Patron Saint of Murderers and Assassins, who appears to be after Custer, and won’t let anything at all get in his way.  The guy’s like a silent, unstoppable, invincible killer, somewhat akin to that of ‘The Man In Black’ from King’s ‘Dark Tower’ series.

You also have the story of the “Reaver Cleaver” serial killer whose plaguing New York City.  Because of this you have various cops who are either after this serial killer, or are after Custer and his entourage.  That’s right…Ennis has packed in more madness, action and mayhem than you can waive a badly burnt crucifix at.

Pace-wise the action barely lets up from the get go.  As soon as something’s either resolved, or come to a turning point, the roving perspective changes to another aspect of the interwoven storyline – keeping everything thundering forwards at a breakneck speed without any sort of let up.

The storylines themselves are more often than not rich with proper black comedy.  These are adult stories.  The ‘jokes’ and themes in each are, as such, risqué at the best of time, and downright in the gutter at pretty much all other times.  There’s also plenty of gritty violence displayed across the vast majority of the graphic novel.  People get their faces blown to smithereens, there’s torture and gut-wrenching deformity (a young lad survived an attempted Kurt Cobain suicide).

At the end of the day what you get with the ‘Preacher’ graphic novels, and certainly with this first instalment, is a gritty as holy hell story that’s constructed via a bunch of cleverly interwoven substories, bringing about a veritable mishmash of odd and off-the-wall characters.  There’s violence, deceit, hostility and perversion across almost every page.  And ultimately, there’s this uncompromising open perspective on “Good Ole American Christianity”.

That’s right, talk about a rollarcoaster of a ride.  There’s more crammed into this single volume than you’d normally get in a shelf full of dusty American action horror/thrillers.

The graphic novel runs for a total of 199 pages (which includes a 4 page foreword by Joe R. Lansdale).

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