Editorial: PREACHER – From Vertigo (DC Comics) to AMC TV Series

Dominic Cooper Joseph Gilgun Ruth Negga Preacher

Preacher Comic Book to AMC TV Series

Preacher Pilot Episode Review

Bringing a cult-favorite comic book story to the TV screen is always a challenge, but few demand that the writers and showrunners get it right more than Preacher. AMC, a network that has been at the forefront of the growing TV trend with shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, is no stranger to the pressures of producing the next big thing. If you’re a fan of the comic book series of the same title from the 90’s, there’s a good chance that you’ll accept nothing less than total badassery from Preacher. The good news is that with the pilot episode in the bag, fans can now breathe a little easier knowing that AMC got it right.

What is Preacher?

Preacher is a TV show based on a comic book of the same name, published by DC Comic’s subdivision Vertigo Comics between 1995 and 2000. Its 66-issue run, helmed by Garth Ennis, was considered notable even within the comic book industry for the story’s dark themes and pointed sense of humor. It is the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher from rural Texas who is accidentally possessed by a creature born of the union of an angel and a demon. The challenge for Custer in this possessed state is that he’s possessed by both pure “good” and pure “evil.” Over the course of his adventures, Custer runs into some of the most colorful rogues in the history of the comic book world.

With its relentless violence, large universe of strange characters and difficult themes, Preacher was long considered a story that was doomed to film and television production hell. In 2013, however, it was announced that AMC would begin developing a TV series based on the supernatural comic books. Seth Rogen (primarily renowned for his stoner comedies), and Evan Goldberg (his Canadian partner in irreverent comic crime) were attached to the project as creatives. AMC officially placed a pre-order of 10 Preacher episodes on 9th September 2015, and it premiered on the evening of May 22nd, 2016. First shown to public audiences at the SXSW music festival, it is now streaming on AMC.com, DTV, and as well as for free on YouTube. As the comic book series itself has 75 episodes, fans can safely expect to see the series running for at least one more season ahead.

The Pilot

One of the biggest challenges a show like Preacher faces is introducing dense and difficult material in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the uninitiated. At the same time, service has to be given to the comic book fanbase that made the project possible. In both regards, Preacher hits the ball out of the park.

Custer is introduced to us with little exposition. In this regard, the producers of the show appear to have figured that the bigger universe and tone of Preacher is more immediately compelling than jumping right into the main character. We get to meet critical characters like Tulip and Cassidy who will be along for the adventure. It’s hard to explain what’s exciting without giving away the surprise of watching the pilot, but before the episode is over you’ll be thinking about how your friends will react to you using the words “vampire” and “bazooka” in the same breath.

It’s easy to claim that the story is still finding its voice, but that’s what the next nine episodes are for. The pilot for Preacher, more than anything, nails the badass and irreverent tone that it needs. Comic book fans may be a shade disappointed that it’s not a one-for-one translation, but if you’re the kind of person who can give The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones room to depart from their source materials, you’ll have no trouble enjoying Preacher.

The fun of watching Preacher going forward is to see how the show handles itself. There’s still a huge world waiting to be explored. The pilot in many instances steers toward a deliberately cheap look and tone, and that likely means we won’t see the production value drop-off that some shows suffer as they move into the tough task of telling serious and serialized plot on anything less than a $10 million pilot budget. In a summer that looks thin for compelling new offerings, Preacher comes off as one of the best to debut in years.

Leave your thoughts on this Preacher editorial and the first episode below in the comments. For more Preacher news, images, and videos, please visit our Preacher Page, our Preacher Google+ Page, and consider subscribing to us by Email, “following” us on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ or “liking” us on Facebook for quick updates. Preacher‘s second episode will air on June 6, 2016.

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Jared Hill

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