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Preacher: Book One
on 19 January 2013
There may be some confusion about the contents of the various editions of Preacher available, and this review is intended to address it. Preacher: Book One is a hardcover volume collecting the first 12 issues of the series, from 1995-1996. The six-volume hardcover series of reprints should not be confused with the existing series of nine paperback editions, each of which is subtitled. For example, this book collects all of the paperback Volume 1: Gone To Texas and half of Volume 2: Until The End Of The World. For every two hardcover volumes, three of the paperbacks' contents are covered, so if you're mixing and matching you'll need to be aware of that. The hardcover books contain new introductions written specifically for these editions (Book One's is by Garth Ennis, the series' writer), but do not reprint the old introductions used for the first printings of the paperbacks. Lastly, the hardcovers contain various galleries of extras at the back, which I'll address at the end of the review. I'll have reviews up for all six volumes just to make sure everyone's clear on what they might be buying.
As first volumes go, this is a doozy. Chances are if you're reading this, you'll have heard Preacher is one of the most acclaimed runs in comics history, and I'd say that's hard to dispute. What it comes down to is that is has a little of everything, on account of Garth Ennis' peerless qualities as a writer. Preacher is at times puerile and at times poignant, and it straddles the line between crudity and charm so expertly that's it's nearly impossible to criticise: I can't think of anyone I know that this book wouldn't win over. From action to romance and between and beyond, it's just so completely entertaining, a story in which well-developed and hugely likeable protagonists look for meaning in the world while dealing with truly despicable villains, all the while calling into question the merits of religion and morality. It's never less than thrilling: the characters speak in distinct voices (Cassidy's Dublin drawl is a highlight), and you'll find that even before their motivations are qualified you've already started to fall for them. This collection offers much but not all in the way of origin, so you'll get a setup and a little history but be left craving for more (and no mistake, book two delivers on these first twelve issues' promise).
There's little Steve Dillon doesn't excel at, from the subtleties of expression to the bombastic violence and depravity Ennis' scripts typically call for. Glenn Fabry's covers complete the Preacher experience, and each is a work of art in and of itself. It's certainly one of the greatest series ever to come out of the Vertigo/DC stable, and arguably the series of the 1990s. Hard not to love for anybody who, simply put, loves being entertained.
Like I mentioned above, this edition has a new introduction from Garth Ennis, and though amusing it's not particularly informative. It also has a gallery of 15 pin-ups by artists who never worked on the series (Jim Lee, Bruce Timm and Brian Bolland the most notable) and a few of its regulars. The dustjacket is a nice matte finish of the pictured artwork, and its spine is perfectly synchronous with the other five volumes in the series. The book's cover underneath is a subtle black with gold lettering. The binding is glued but at south of 350 pages that's not really a problem. Lastly, this book is not oversized like some of DC's other Deluxe hardcovers - it is only just taller than a regular TPB. Regardless, these books are absolutely gorgeous, and both the nicest format for this classic series so far released and the closest thing to a definitive presentation we're ever likely to get. Though Amazon's prices are particularly crazy on some of the volumes (particularly this first), I've seen many copies in high street stores so it may be worth looking around for whichever volumes are out of print.
***As ever, I keep an eye on the comments section, so if you'd like to know anything about the book please ask below.***