Preacher, Volume 9: Alamo by Garth Ennis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, here we are.
It’s kind of odd reviewing Alamo, the final collection of Preacher trades, as it simultaneously is a review of a collection of issues of the comic, and the run as a whole. It’s something you’re not going to read unless you’ve read the rest of the run, and if you’ve managed to stick through the other eight trades, you’re probably in for the long haul anyway.
What’s good about this collection is that everyone gets loose ends tied up. Dickless Starr and his love triangle? Sorted. The Saint’s desire for a long (dirt) nap? Done. Arseface? Tulip? Cassidy? Jesse? Check, check, check and check. There’s endings that don’t satisfy, and there’s those that’re great, but you can’t fault the team for ensuring that everyone has an ending of some sort – even though they mostly aren’t what you’d expect.
There are problems, though. I didn’t quite buy Starr’s move to straight revenge: it discounted the machinations which had defined the guy up until this point. I guess once he started in on the whole “Doom cock!” stuff the knob-joke tendency which has shown up occasionally took full rein. It just didn’t ring true, and that’s disappointing because Ennis had made a bloodline-protecting conspiracy seem entirely plausible, assassinations and bulimia included. It was a bit of cop-out for a character that deserved better than to be reduced to an “Oh! My dick!” guy.
I guess the ending is far less wide focus than you’d expect: it comes down to two guys duking it out while considering what their word means. A suitable topic, given the Word of God nature of the main character’s burden, but a bit subdued if you consider the thermonuclear smackdowns of earlier trades. Still, I suppose the easy way out would’ve been to Michael Bay this one into the ground, and I’m kind of grateful it didn’t end that way.
What’s interesting to me is that for such an almighty (!) action series, a lot of the narrative in this collection is told in epistolary format. Yes, it speaks to the fact that classically, guys (and vampires) don’t talk about their feelings. But part of it seems a little bit of a cop-out. Then again, this has always been a series in which, outside of certain declarations of undying, widescreen love, people are afraid of speaking their most intimate truths. Zingers about chinlessness? Sure. But actual honest-to-soon-to-be-dead-God truths? Shit no.
It’s pleasing, I guess, and perhaps – though letters have figured elsewhere in the run – an acknowledgement that Ennis’s larger-than-life characters couldn’t possibly say some of these things and still have the reader’s respect. It feeds into the myth of the Western, of the stoic, action-driven signal of drive and dedication. It’s the reminder that the distance between the Saint and Jesse is minimal. That this is Everyman, with enough taken from him. And perhaps that’s the point of the whole thing.
So as the lead characters ride off into the sunset, I have to say I’ve enjoyed this rip through Preacher again. I’ll be interested to see how AMC finish the rest of the series, because there’s a lot of good story here. There’s also a lot of unfilmable teenage boy catnip in here, but if you’ve stuck by it this long, you’re probably not averse to it. This series has been a lumpy bastard, and it does run out of steam a little towards the end – how the fuck are you going to make killing God as successful as the idea, anyway? – but it’s a fucker of a ride.
I’m glad I took it one more time.