Preacher (TV) Review

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The other night I bit the bullet and watched the pilot episode of Preacher. I wanted to be excited for it, I really did. But if I could go back and not watch it, I would.

I am a Preacher fan. Jesse Custer, possessed by the supernatural ‘infant’ of an illegal angel/demon coupling, is the quintessential anti-hero. Toss in a gun toting girlfriend and a mouthy Irish vampire, and you pretty much have the greatest trio in the history of graphic novels. I mean, we’re talking about a Texas Preacher, possessed by a supernatural force that makes him powerful enough to rival God, going to find God. And I don’t mean that in a religious, metaphorical sense. I mean Jesse Custer goes on a search to literally find God.

It is baffling to me that they managed to completely destroy the story in just one episode. Reading up on some Preacher history, it seems too many studios were unwilling to take on an adaptation of Garth Ennis’ mind blowing graphic novel series, on the basis of it being too religiously incendiary. I’m sorry, but if you’re not willing to do it right, don’t bother doing it at all. And that, I think, is where this AMC adaptation has failed.

What makes Preacher so brilliant is that it is unashamedly controversial. Any fan of the original story will be familiar with the likes of Herr Starr, Odin Quincannon and most notably (and awesomely) the Saint of Killers. These characters Jesse meets on his journey away from Annville, Texas. But I have to wonder how the showrunners of the TV series plan to introduce them if, as it seems, Jesse will be staying in town to…help people. His speech at the end of the episode essentially tells us that his plan is not to go and hold God accountable, but to stay where he is and just be a Preacher. A worthy goal, I’m sure, but not what the story is about.

For someone who kept insisting he loves the original, and wanted to keep it real, Seth Rogen didn’t do a very good job. As one reviewer put it, Garth Ennis’ work is caustically misanthropic, and that’s what fans love about it. The TV series seems to be heading in a softer direction already, and what attempts at badassery they did throw in seemed somewhat ridiculous. I mean, a home-made bazooka? Come on, guys. Even someone who has no real knowledge of blowing shit up knows that is implausible. Why not just blow up the still? That whole ‘Tulip is a tough bitch’ thing just seemed contrived and frankly, made me cringe. I seem to be on the outer there however, because the internet is abuzz with how brilliant she was.

And while we’re on the subject of ridiculousness, can someone explain to me the vampire hunters on the plane? If you’re trying to kill someone, don’t go getting drunk and fucked up with them first. And why would they get on the plane in the first place? Allow it to take off? Give themselves no escape route when the vampire ultimately works out who they are and goes to town? That whole scene made absolutely no sense, and there were a billion better ways to introduce Cassidy.

I could go on forever about how bad it was if I was comparing it to the graphic novels. On that front, the series already doesn’t compare. But if you take away the original, you’re still left with a watered down attempt at entertainment, with an uninspiring lead, a predictable plot, and a bitter taste in your mouth. If they wanted to do it, they should have made an accurate adaptation. If they wanted to make a series about a tortured Preacher helping folks out, they shouldn’t have marketed it as an adaptation at all. Fans of the original, don’t bother. Everyone else, do yourself a favour. Don’t succumb to the internet hype; it’s an hour if your life you’ll never get back.

Wytches Review

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Last night I read the first volume of Wytches, the ongoing graphic novel series from Scott Snyder. I bought it on a recommendation from my best friend who, if I’m honest, is pretty much responsible for all the cool shit I’m into. And, as ever, I wasn’t disappointed.

This captivating horror comic begins in the year 1919, with a woman seemingly trapped in a tree, and quite anxious to be out of it. Her young son appears before her, and asks where she is been. She replies that someone ‘pledged her to them’ and begs him to break her free. There is a sense of urgency here; something big and bad is coming, and it’s coming fast. Yet instead of helping his mother, the boy grabs a rock and unexpectedly uses it to bash her across the head. He looks at her and chillingly says ‘pledged is pledged.’ before something grabs her and drags her into the dark.

Now I don’t know about you, but right away I wanted to read more. Who, or what was our victim referring to when she said them? And how it is possible that a simple word like pledged could carry such menace?

Jump forward to the year 2014, and we are introduced to the Rooks family. Young Sailor is about to begin her first say at a new school, and she is understandably nervous, but not just for the usual reasons – though her anxiety does play a large role in this comic. The thirteen year old protagonist carries the weight of a dark past on her shoulders, and as the story continues, we learn more about her, and why her family made the move to a new town. But things in their new home are not going to be a smooth as they hope, and something is lurking in the nearby woods, something menacing and deeply evil. And that something wants Sailor.

The thing I liked about Wytches is that, aside from being a well written and awesomely illustrated horror comic, there were some great themes as well. Sailor fights a constant battle with her anxiety, and must face up to a particularly nasty bully. Her father, Charlie, struggles with guilt over incidents in the family’s past, and like any father, worries about his daughter, and his ability to be a good parent. The underlying themes in this comic add a cool spin to the plot, because it makes the story easy to relate to and adds a great contrast to the whole notion of evil and the perhaps more fantastic aspects of the series.

Snyder’s simultaneously creepy and engrossing story, coupled with the gritty illustrations by Jock, and Matt Hollingsworth’s dark, moody colours, make Wytches a thoroughly enjoyable read, and worth the time of any person who calls themselves a horror fiction fan. 4.5 stars for me, and the only reason it didn’t get a full five is because I felt the story in parts to be slightly rushed. But otherwise, an excellent beginning to what I hope will be a long running series.