Action movies, as a general rule, are anathema to the concept of taking breathers. When guns are firing from every angle and dry cool wit fills the gaps, there's not much interest in figuring out what makes the fodder tick. Who could justify four reels of drinking in bars and all the good cheer and ugly consequence that comes out of it when the national hard-ons of CGI and slow-motion carnage are so readily available?
PREACHER, rounding the halfway mark, jostles expectations all over again in DIXIE FRIED. Following the giant, racing spectacle of the first three volumes, this one looks sedate in comparison. Following Jesse Custer and company down to New Orleans, in search of the key to the heavenly host in his head, DIXIE FRIED has vampire devotees, voodoo priests and one-eyed exes alongside Arseface's first steps to stardom and the first chinks in the flawless armor of Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy. While providing the trademark fascination with weaponry and its effects on the human body, the kind of pain that interests Garth Ennis comes from secrets better left kept and the trajectory of relationships.
Conversations dominate the book. Tulip and an old friend hashing life out over drinks, Cassidy and Jesse's hive mind agreements and dismissals, Arseface's vowel slurry; the old touchstones of loyalty and friendship are no longer the mythic standards of the John Wayne codebook, but become tenuous things subject to history's reprisals and uncomfortably real miscommunications.
DIXIE FRIED comes in at just the right moment, taking stock and keeping tabs on the disparate players while dropping oblique hints and major revelations that shape the rest of the run. For a book that seems hell-bent on pushing things as far as the envelope can carry them, PREACHER somehow was never more shocking than DIXIE FRIED, where the foundations shake over open containers and the span of a bar.
Christopher Sebela lives, works and sleeps in Kansas City, MO. When not laying out newspaper pages or writing quasi-subversive headlines for a tiny upstart company within a huge publishing syndicate, he pimps his muse as a freelance writer or labors in vain crudely editing reams of footage. He has no idea why he has a website, but he does: thoughtpeach.com.