In “Preacher: Proud Americans” Garth Ennis gives Jesse and Tulip’s relationship a back seat to the developing mythology. Unsteady alliances are created and the nature of genesis is revealed. Ennis doesn’t let up for a second, and Dillion’s work only gets better. This is “Preacher” at it’s best. The narrative never stops moving, and the main adventure is bookended by two incredible backstories.
Jesse’s in an airport on his way to France and while waiting in the lounge he meets a man who knew his father. The result is Ennis’ take on Vietnam. We get an excellent flashback issue that focuses on John Custer. He is a proud, arrogant, and good man. Ennis is sure to make you feel Jesse’s moment. The story is earned and serves as a breath of fresh air before the real adventure begins. Dillion’s work in Vietnam is incredible. A panel of a man taking a bullet to the face will give you chills. Dillion’s attention to detail shines as he draws John in Jesse’s likeness. Their share the same emotive eyes but the subtle differences in the jawline and hair make John distinct.
Jesse lands in France and parts ways with Tulip almost immediately. He fears for her safety and after a quick parlance with ol John Wayne, he ditches her. Meanwhile Starr has just about run out of ideas for how to exterminate Cassidy. Before he can, word arrives that D’Aronique is on his way to Masada. Dillion’s depiction of D’Aronique is perfect and over the top. As a putridly obese member of the church, Ennis’ dialogue contributes to making an absolutely loathsome force.
Jesses’s arrival is tumultuous. He learns more about his bloodline, and it seems Jesse is a lot more special than we once thought. Things erupt into chaos when D’Aronique orders Starr and Jesse to fight one another. What’s worse, The Saint of Killers arrives. Ennis takes this time to create some truly interesting alliances. He also spends the majority of the volume deepening every character’s motivations.
Jesse’s goals become clearer. He wants something more out of life. The Saint of Killers wants to revenge his lost family. Starr believes The Grail is run by imbeciles. He’s kind of right. Ennis spends a lot of time developing Starr in this volume. It moves the character from a throwaway villain to a more motivated man. By the end you’ll find yourself identifying with his goals, just as Ennis reminds you that he still is a terrible person.
Cassidy is left to last. An afterthought, but as he should be, up until now Cassidy’s motivation in all this was never really clear. He always seemed to be along for the ride. In an excellent decision, Ennis treats us to an origin story of sorts. The final two issues devote themselves to telling Cassidy’s story. Its the classic American immigrant story through and through, but this time from the perspective of a vampire. The whole thing ends with a renewed commitment from Cassidy that solidifies his “stake” in the overarching narrative.
Ennis and Dillion continue to spin an incredibly compelling adventure. The moment where the Saint of Killers has literally filled a hallway with bullet-riddled bodies is horrid and lovely. Dillion never runs out of ways to turn people into swiss cheese. His creative deaths are only rivaled by Ennis’ quips that go along with them.
The elimination of D’Aronique is handled in such a humorous, dark, and fantastic way that you’ll cheer at the pages of your book. Dillion’s final panel on the corpse perfectly represents “Preacher” in all its glory.
“Proud Americans” manages to deepen the series in almost every way imaginable. It’s hard for me to imagine a volume that can get any better than this. Things have kicked into high gear, and the narrative is more compelling with every page. Having the love story sit out was a breath of fresh air. While the flashback issues develop characters with such incredible care, that by the end of this volume you should officially be in love with “Preacher.”
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