The Preacher re-read rolls on. Proud Americans gathers issues 18 to 26 of the series and while it contains just as much blow-shit-up-while-making-knob-jokes stuff as the previous trades, it’s also one which deepens character and explores history, too. Spoilers ahead, most likely.
We begin as Jesse is en route to Paris, where he encounters Space, a Vietnam vet who has stories to share of John Custer. The previous collection’s story of Angelville told of the meeting of Jesse’s mother and father, but this one offers some insight into what sort of a man he was – traits which have rubbed off onto the son, in an exchange begun by an anti-Commie lighter.
There’s a fair amount of action in here, too, as Jesse and Tulip hit the Gallic highway in an attempt to storm Masada and rescue Cassidy. When there, we also learn that the Grail – the multi-tentacled organisation (headed by a religious Mr Creosoate Allfather) – has a personal beef with Jesse. We also learn about genitally-challenged hairpieces, bulimic psychopaths, the inbred descendant of Jesus and exactly why a secret organisation has spent so much on jets this year.
A lot of threads come together in this collection, but without resolution. That’s fine, though, as the stories we learn – from seraphic storytellers, sometimes – tell us more about the characters. Starr’s a little more fulsomely drawn (though more of that will come in future issues). We find out what motivates the Saint of Killers (who makes a transatlantic crossing in the best Stoker style). But most importantly, we find out more about Cassidy.
The Cassidy section of the book – notwithstanding his role in the Masada parts – is really touching. It covers his genesis as a vampire, his family’s political history, and his eventual journey to New York. We’re given some insight into the sadness which undermines his hedonism, a look at his famous friends, and an unabashed love for his new home. He’s made something other than Paddy O’Partyfucker and it elevates him from just a sidekick to something more.
Yelled from the deck of the Empire State Building with the WTC towers in view, Cass’s outpourings of affection are plain speaking in a work that’s sometimes too keen to go for the dick joke. It’s the proof that the guys writing this have much more range than you’d think, based on some of what’s come before.