Review by Karl Verhoven
There’s redemption on the agenda as Alamo wraps up Preacher. It presents a valedictory tour of everyone who’s survived the series to date, many impressively portrayed in portrait fashion by Glenn Fabry in his covers to the original series.
Given the paths taken, it slips the mind that Preacher began intended to appeal to the audience who’d liked Garth Ennis’ and Steve Dillon’s horror work on Hellblazer, but the mystical elements hang over Alamo like a shroud. They barely interest Ennis, and his conclusion of the Genesis plot is perfunctory, yet do they really interest any other Preacher readers at this stage? Probably not, and it’s left to a completely different forthcoming confrontation to provide the ongoing tension.
The opening chapters set a dark tone as Ennis divests himself of some thoughts about the nature of God, and his motivation, the gist of it being that God is all too human. The justification on Custer’s part doesn’t withstand scrutiny, but serves the dramatic purpose. Ennis rather backs himself into a corner here, and while he delays it as long as possible, the bathos of the later “Hi honey, I’m home” scene is Alamo‘s weakest moment. And unusually for Preacher, there’s an ambivalence about the section of the ending featuring the Saint of Killers.
Even that, though, lives up to an unpredictability that’s characterised Preacher from the earliest days, and Ennis succeeds in maintaining the suspense until the concluding pages. It’s an exceptionally astute reader who’ll accurately predict anything, and that’s fine writing.
Herr Starr’s motivations are explicit here, making sense of his reduction to comedy interludes. As amusing as his potty-mouthed Basil Fawlty rants have been, his plan deviates from the purpose of the Grail. “Don’t forget to pack the extra colostomy bags” indeed. Grail underling Hoover, always more misguided than malign, is the recipient of an excellent moment, then proceeds to provide both a side-splitting sequence and a heartbreaker. Ennis also drops by Salvation, where an unlikely relationship develops, one that makes perfect sense, but only in Preacher.
Earlier in the series there was a completely inappropriate declaration of love, yet Ennis tops it here, then follows it with another almost as good. There are several other punch the air moments, yet there’s also considerable verbose posturing. As with War in the Sun, which provided a semi-conclusion, Ennis takes considerable time arriving at the finish line, and a less leisurely pace would have improved the narrative.
This isn’t a fatal flaw, and some long conversations between Custer and Tulip, and later Cassidy are surely what anyone who’s followed Preacher would want to see. The trio are Preacher‘s core and any resolution required several issues to be settled among them. Ennis achieves this in immensely heartwarming fashion.
He’s not the only one to surprise. To this point Dillon has avoided the expansive double page spreads so fashionable during Preacher‘s run, but his conclusion offers a pair of them reflecting the genre-splicing nature of the series. They’re also finely placed to conceal a coda.
In the revised Preacher collections the entire content of this volume is found in Preacher Book Six.