Review by Ian Keogh
This hardcover combines two stories of a Bible-quoting one-man army wandering a devastated world carrying out what he considers to be the Lord’s business. In practical terms this amounts to wiping out the mutations and plain scum preying on the weak. Originally issued as Just a Pilgrim and Just a Pilgrim: Garden of Eden, this is very much the game of two halves.
Carlos Ezquerra’s lumpy people and finely-honed action sensibilities shine throughout, and as seen on the sample art, he provides an iconic design for the Pilgrim himself, with the finishing touch of a cross-shaped scar over his right eye not seen on that page. Ezquerra revels in the two-barrelled violence, and delivers the cast with just the right amount of pathos or aggression.
The planet the Pilgrim wanders is one devastated by climate change, with 97% of the population dead and the oceans drained. The two stories, though, are contrasting. In the first Garth Ennis plays things largely for laughs, albeit ones requiring a dark sense of humour as the Pilgrim comes across a largely helpless convoy being targeted by the pirate Castenado and his Bloody Butchers. The narrative voice is the hero-worshipping youngster Billy, who writes a diary seeing the Pilgrim as someone who can protect him when his parents can’t manage the job, oblivious to his one method fitting all style of confrontation. Ennis locks the bad taste button in place from the start, and delivers a very funny form of mayhem topped off by the Pilgrim continually issuing the most violent, self-righteous and disturbing Biblical quotes. Plus, he has a hilariously disgusting secret past waiting to be revealed. Yes, it’s derivative, but it’s fun.
Unfortunately ‘Garden of Eden’ isn’t as funny, and consequently not as good. While the Pilgrim is still a Bible-quoting dispenser of mayhem, his meeting a community who’ve generated vegetation and plan to to escape Earth is a far more straightforward action affair. Ennis attempts to humanise the Pilgrim by having him question his faith and develop a conscience, and there’s no talking threat this time. What’s provided would suit another character, perhaps Judge Dredd, but the Pilgrim needs something stronger to play off. It’s a considerable step down from the first effort.
Ennis and Ezquerra dropped the Pilgrim after the second outing and moved on to other projects, which was the right decision.