Jesse has just recently found himself imbued with intense power that kills his entire congregation. This power is the result of being possessed by Genesis, a rogue half-demon, half-angel that is being hunted down by the Saint of Killers. With the help of Tulip (Jesse’s ex-girlfriend) and Cassidy (a vampire), Jesse goes on the run…
You have no idea the amount of dread I feel right now. Or how long I’ve put off this review. This series is beloved, and the scope of the story, the weight of it, does make me see why. That is some praise I can readily heap onto this comic. It has a fantastic story. It’s different and irreverent. It’s dark, and I can already tell it’s going to go to some big places.
Then I start getting critical. The point of much of the comic is satire. I understand that. The idea of angels and demons and heaven is all handled in a very “blasphemous” way, and Ennis revels in it. These aren’t the parts that bother me, though I guess this is me also warning you that if you are offended by anyone taking religion and treating it this way, you should steer clear.
No, the bothersome part is the transparent, early 90s humor. The sort of humor that doesn’t hold up at all today. Pointing and laughing at the butch detective who turns out to be a gimp-mask-wearing homosexual. Making a joke out of the only character with a good heart because his face looks “like an arsehole.” Jesse trying desperately to turn Tulip’s “no, I will not sleep with you” into a “yes” simply by asking a thousand times. And lots of and lots of casual racism. You know. For laughs! It’s outdated. It’s disgusting in a way that isn’t fun. If it does anything, it reveals how awful and backwards we are that this passes for humor, and I’m officially side-eying everyone who suggested this book to me and called it “brilliant”.
I’m not even really sure the characters are worth it. Jesse is an antihero of the highest order, but in a way that seems contradictory. Preaching goodness one minute and then inciting violence over an insult the next. It made him hard to pin down, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. Cassidy is loads of fun. I can say that fairly easily. And Tulip… She is a strong woman as written by a man who seems to think “strong” is defined as being snotty and argumentative. He gave her a gun, and somehow that’s supposed to be enough for me. Surprisingly, it isn’t.
I’ve blasted this a lot. I am hoping the series somehow improves, but I’m aware of how Ennis operates, so I know to expect a lot more deeply offensive comedy. Yet he’s created a story here that I want to experience, even though I keep waffling about whether I feel like enduring more of his juvenile, sick humor.