Review by Karl Verhoven
After the interlude of Salvation it’s back to the main plot as Garth Ennis re-unites his cast. Tulip has all-but disintegrated, believing Jesse Custer to be dead, and while she’s been keeping Cassidy company that’s run its course. As the book progresses her predicament is revealed to be following a well-trodden path.
Until this point Tulip’s past has been kept under wraps, but receives a run through here. It’s suitably traumatic in places, and the section where her father is expecting a boy is nicely handled, but there is a feeling of it being delivered from duty rather than burning need to relate that particular story.
The following chapters are anecdote rich and all the better for it as Custer drives across country picking up hitch-hikers, some of whom we’ve seen before, and one who’s believed to be dead. Custer learns more than he ever thought possible about growing up gay in Yorkshire and the porn industry before a slightly over-egged discourse on the greatness of America. This has been a recurring feature of Preacher, although generally more balanced than here. In between Custer manages to deliver the message most of us would to the bickering opponents on late-night radio chat shows.
Once Tulip and Jesse are reunited there’s a shroud created by the now missing Cassidy, and in attempting to track him down Custer learns what occurred during the gaps in the story related by Cassidy in Proud Americans. Not that Cassidy wants light shed on him at the best of times, but this reveals a side of his nature best kept under a rock.
Starr is also having problems. His grand plans for the Grail’s appropriation of Custer continue, but there’s someone else within the organisation capable of providing a resolute threat. Suffice to say that a pattern has been established to conclude any appearance by Starr, and it continues here. Ennis also looks in on Arseface and his influence on the impressionable youth of America.
The final chapter concerns Custer and Tulip’s early days together and a horse rustler, notable for being the first time Steve Dillon’s not supplied the complete art for a Custer story. John McCrea inking him is an uneasy combination, with a greater element of exaggeration on some sequences and a looser line than we’re used to. Elsewhere Dillon again creates memorable new characters. There’s the Grail assessor Eisenstein, eighty years of chiselled granite, Sally the tragic bag lady (and which of them isn’t tragic?), and confessional mulleted Marty Strauss who once performed as Tom Cooze.
As ever, the dialogue is wonderful. “Now Tim was so dumb he’d have to study up to be a halfwit”, “Anything else you want to tell me Featherstone? Set up a relief fund for the poor irradiated Navajo with my name on it?”, “Turns out he’s not some kind of pervert, he’s actually the director of Hershey Highway one, two, three and four”.
This is an uneven book, but the high points really hit the spot. Preacher finishes its run with Alamo. In the revised Preacher collections the content of this volume is spread between Preacher Book Five and the concluding sixth book.