Tuesday, July 24, 2012

66 Days of Preacher: Day 5

The next three issues act as a bit of an interlude. Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy visit New York, escaping all the madness of Texas. No angels. No demons. No Saint of All Killers. Just sight seeing, looking for God, and a serial killer...

Standard Preacher NSFW protocols apply. 

Preacher #5 "Say A Prayer for Seven Bullets"
Garth Ennis - Writer. Steve Dillon - Artist. Matt Hollingsworth - Colorist. Clem Robins - Letterer. Julie Rottenberg - Assoc. Editor. Stuart Moore - Editor.
Cover by Glenn Fabry.

Detective Tool of the NYPD is the unluckiest cop in the world. That's about all you need to know about him. His clumsiness and bad luck routinely place his life in jeopardy. But his partner, Detective Bridges, is always there to save Tool from dire circumstances. Bridges is the stereotypical super cop that plays by his own rules and gets results. Together, they are tasked with tracking down a sadistic killer that mails body parts to the victims' families.

Meanwhile, our three protagonists from Texas are visiting the Big Apple to lay low and meet up with one of Cassidy's friends who just might be able to help them find God. Cassidy's friend, Si, is a freelance journalist with interests in the paranormal and the supernatural. Cassidy figures he's as good a place as any to start the hunt for God. Si says he'll look into it, but that he's also busy following the story of the serial killer that Bridges and Tool are investigating. The media has named this murderer "The Reaver-Cleaver."

After this little meeting, Si departs and Tulip heads back to the hotel to get some rest. Jesse and Cassidy head to the Empire State Building since Jesse has never seen it before. There they discuss their current quest for God and Jesse's reluctance to to take advantage of his power of the Word of God provided by Genesis. Just by saying it, Jesse could easily get his way with anything, but he refuses to exploit this power. Because with great power comes great responsibility.

Jesse Custer is Uncle Ben. Okay, so he doesn't say those exact words, but the gist of it is the same. "Figure if I start lordin' it over people with this gift I got, just to make life a little bit easier, who am I gonna be to talk about responsibility? You got power, you got to use it right." If Jesse plans to hold God accountable for not using his power responsibly, Jesse better use his own power responsibly.

But if Jesse was to abuse his power, he'd use it the way any man would: to get women. Jesse eagerly wishes to hook up with Tulip again, but Tulip is turning him away. He could easily order her to sleep with him, but he knows that would be an abominable thing to do and he's managing to restrain himself. It sounds like Jesse has been going through a bit of a dry spell with women in general, too. Says the preacher, "Gonna be a shock for you to hear this, but ministers to small towns in the ass-end of Texas don't tend to get a whole lot of action..." The same can probably be said of ministers to rural South Dakota. Maybe that hits a little too close to home for some of my friends from seminary. Sorry.

On to the theology! We already discussed a little about the notion that power brings the responsibility to use that power wisely. God possess supreme, ultimate power and he used that power to usher Creation into being. But now he's abandoned it. His absence is nothing short of negligence and Jesse Custer is going to call him out on that. Again, we can look back to the story of Job and how he dared to address God directly instead of being satisfied with the standard religious answers. It's not unique to Job, either. The Psalms, especially, are filled with instances of individuals crying out to the Lord asking him to give an answer for the suffering they endure.

Cassidy also inquires if it is worth it. Hunting down God and then somehow making him give an account of his actions will be no small feat to accomplish. It will likely be quite the hassle for Jesse Custer. Cassidy asks, "So do you reckon that his creation an' all these good people livin' on it are worth the time an' effort you're expendin' on their behalf?"

"Matter of fact, Cass--" Jesse replies, "Yes I do." In general, Jesse Custer seems like a normal, selfish person who's number one priority is himself. Really, he could abandon this quest for God and live an easy life. The only way he's really affected right now is by Genesis, but that gives him the power of the Word of God. Jesse himself calls it a "gift." But instead of watching out for only himself, he takes on the this mission on behalf of the whole of humanity. Somewhere in there, in Jesse Custer, must be a deep love for his fellow humans; some people he knows, but the vast majority of the billions of people on the planet he has not, and will not ever, meet. Yet he values them, loves them, so much that he will take upon himself incredible hardships for their benefit.

Is...is Jesse Custer a messianic figure? Perhaps? Granted, he would be a rather twisted and perverse take on the messianic figure. But in this moment we catch a glimpse that, at least in part, it's his love for humanity that drives his sacrifice. I find this rather intriguing, since I have honestly never thought about Preacher in this way until I started writing the paragraph above. I will have to follow this line of thought in subsequent issues and see how it pans out.

 Counts of Blasphemy: 15

Best Line: "I'm lookin' for the Lord 'cause I figure he's deserted his creation. I aim to bring him to book for that little transgression: to confront him and hear his answer to that charge. He has an obligation to do right by the world he's made an' the folks he's peopled it with. He quits an' runs, he ain't facin' up to his responsibilities." - Jesse Custer

Best Panel:
Jesse and Cassidy taking in the view from atop the Empire State Building. This occurs in the middle of their conversation about God, responsibilities, and the worth of humanity. There is this beat, this moment of silence, this wordless panel that simply and elegantly evokes their shared understanding of the subject and each other. I think I'm envious of the friendship they have.

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