Thursday, February 09, 2006

An Opinion I Have Been Nursing For Some Time Regarding The Preacher Comic Book

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I don't like Preacher. I find it to be an unimaginative tirade of carefully-positioned unpleasantness that does the world no good. If Preacher was a person, it'd be one of those incredibly irritating people you often find in the classrooms of educational facilities who aren't that smart but will pontificate till the cows come home, swearing a lot, often while drunk, incredibly self-righteously and utterly without grace or original thinking or or any real actual wit.

None of the ideas expressed in Preacher are particularly new or well-delivered or explored in an interesting way. The whole sublot with the boy whose face looks like an ass so he can't talk properly, for instance: someone obviously thinks this is mindblowingly clever in its RUTHLESS!! and PULLS-NO-PUNCHES!! approach to the teen suicide problem.
Whereas I would submit that everyone knows someone who'll go on and on and on about how suicidal people don't deserve any sympathy, man, they just give up, or how celebrities are all ugly on the inside and anyone can become a celebrity, or...
Look, fuck off. Take your tedious loud-dumb-drunk riffing on the preoccupations of premillennial society and go fuck yourself. Take your endorsement from Kevin frikkin' Smith and your nauseating hagiographical tributes to people who deserved better and your endless cast of "interestingly" mutilated protagonists and "hilariously" "perverted" villians (oohh look, that guy who's badass, he's also A GAY! He likes sex IN HIS ASS! How perfectly HILARIOUS that someone should be A GAY!) and go the fuck home.

Your one-two-punch "this is SO FUCKIN' COOL what I'm doin' here!; naw, just funnin', like whatever man" pattern might work on the hicks from the fictionalised Texas of your imaginations, the one where everyone talks like a really, really badly scripted episode of Walker Texas Ranger where any dialogue problems can be solved with the word "shit", but here in the real world, they just sound stupid.
Example: The hero, the one with the name you have soooo much fun with (a hero called Jesse? Are you fucking serious?) has an angel tied up in a basement. He asks him to recount what happened when the angel fell in love with a demon. And the angel says...
"Hers was the beauty of daggers in the alley".
Yeah. Exactly. That's so good, it could almost be a System Of A Down lyric. Almost.
Then he fills up a page with the same turgid bargain basement teenage crap, and you can just tell someone's writing this and going, "aw, FUCK YEAH!"; but then, just when you might be realising that this is written by people who can't write worth a damn, Jesse says something stupid and not-real-Texan to the effect of, "aw shucks, stop yer fancy-talkin' and git t'th' point awready!"
Which is just great. It means you can indulge your passion for turgid bargain-basement teenage crap, and make your hero look boss by putting a stop to it! Oh, that's genius, that is. Hey, that means you never actually have to write anything good, cause as soons as you've taken a stab at anything that would, in ordinary circumstances, require skill to render convincingly, you can just bring in one of your multitude of poorly-written cliche heroes to go, "aw, that's bullshit!", and you're off the hook w/r/t having to write anything good!

I think what annoys me the most about Preacher (narrowly pipping out that stupid fucking vampire character, who is just endlessly cringeworthy, except when he's meant to be, and then he's just a big sign saying I HAVE JUST FOUND OUT WHAT A CHARACTER ARC IS) is the Point. Oh my, but doesn't Preacher just have Point for Africa. I'd say Preacher is so enamoured of its Point, it ought to be named in a manner reflective of the fact that it is the most shamelessly, narrative-halting-for-purposes-of-pontificating, infuriatingly fucking evangelical comic book in the history of the world. OH WAIT, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IT HAS, IT'S CALLED FUCKING PREACHER. Get a fucking life.
Preacher manages to go out of its way to be Point at the expense of narrative to such an extent that, toward the end, Ennis and Dillon can't actually find a way to finish the story without splitting it off into two strands, so that the Point gets this grandiose showdown in Heaven and the Narrative sort of just skulks off into the final panel, and you get to watch both strands collapse under the effluent-soaked Weight of their own pretention[1].
I'm going to posit a contentious suggestion here, people. Some of you are going to think I'm missing the point. Okay. At the end of Preacher, that stupid cowboy with the oversized mouth goes to Heaven and he shoots God. Kills 'Im. And then Jesse and Tulip[2] ride off into the sunset, deeply in love and feeling that all is right with the world. And the whole sorry mess proves itself to just not have a clue, because, well, I for one happen to believe that God is love, you morons. I don't think I thought this up all on my own. It's not that this conclusion offends me because of whatever I may believe - although I also happen to believe that good comics are really cool, and certainly Preacher offends on this level - but, honestly, isn't this just a little lazy? Isn't it like writing a comic where the antagonist is, say, the President, but because you don't actually have anything to say about the President apart from, "that guy sure does run the country!", you have the President played by a werewolf?
No, it's nothing like that, because President Werewolf would be the fucking best comic book ever. Preacher, meanwhile, is really really useless.

[1] This paragraph written while pretending not to notice the blindingly obvious fact that if you have to split your Point and your Story into two separate strands in order to resolve them, you obviously have no idea how to write Story and your Point probably isn't really worth exploring anyway. Which is, I guess, where Preacher would retreat to the "naw, just funnin', like whatever" defence.
This paragraph was also written in homage to Preacher's belief that bodily waste is inherently dramatic.
[2] Yes, the protagonists of this book really are called Jesse and Tulip. When we're meant to care about their relationship, generally we'll be shown a scene where they talk about how much they like giving each other oral sex. This is deeply, deeply uncomfortable.

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