From worshipping at the altar of the myth of the Old West to squirming around in the depths of what the rural human mind can conceive, PREACHER was always about several things at once. What kept it sustainable was that the scenery was always as compelling as the central plot, and ANCIENT HISTORY, the fourth volume in the series, takes a pause from the God-hunting hijinx and racks focus to concentrate on Garth Ennis' signature obsessions via PREACHER's supporting cast.
The keystone of the book is the four-part Saint of Killers, focusing on the origin of Ennis' Clint Eastwood cipher in a story equal parts High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven. Following the Saint of Killers from half-redeemed butcher to revenge-fueled bullet factory - literally through Hell and all the way back - Ennis draws up a myth before your eyes. As a Western, it's a shining example of why the genre still works, but easing past where others would stop, what seals the deal is how oddly touching it is, how gently it handles damnation and remorse.
Next up is the story of Arseface, self-shotgun-mutilated pop star cum comic relief of the PREACHER run. Here, a surprisingly sober side emerges, handing out loneliness and humanity and evincing a reaction other than the giddy laughter that usually follows Arseface's appearances.
Of course, if that's not your cup of tea, the third and final part has enough animal-buggery and dripping shit to satisfy even the most discerning tastes, courtesy of a hypercretinated action movie parody helmed by Jody and T.C., the vicious killers from the second volume.
While not essential to the thrust of the plot of PREACHER, ANCIENT HISTORY represents the small facets - story fractals that kept the series from ever being standard or, god forbid, boring.
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.