Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Preacher #2, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is cover dated May 1995. Enjoy!
Garth Ennis employs another common trick to recap previous events – instead of the news broadcast, he gives us the person who was there and witnessed it narrating to people interviewing him. That’s always handy, and although Ennis doesn’t give us too much information about Jesse and Cassidy and Tulip, we do get a nice introduction to the Saint of Killers, the man Sheriff Root is describing. We also find out that the “first suspect” – that would be Jesse – told the police officers to lay down their weapons and they couldn’t help themselves. Ennis gives us some nice descriptive dialogue on this page – it flows pretty naturally even though it’s informative, and the way Root describes how the Saint of Killers started shooting is very well done – “Ain’t what I said. A blur an’ then shootin’. I didn’t see no draw.” That’s good stuff. So moving onto the second page, we already know there’s a man who is able to compel police officers to put down their weapons and another man who is so fast that no one saw him pull his weapons. The fact that the page ends with Root telling the interviewers (and the reader) about the Saint primes us for the following pages – it would be very disappointing if, on the next page, we didn’t see the Saint blasting away, and that’s what we get!
Steve Dillon’s pencils here are, I think, much better than when he’s colored digitally, which I think was the case with the last time I featured him in this here column. Matt Hollingsworth colors this, and I’m not sure if it’s digital or not (this is probably too early for that, although I’m not sure), but it looks more “grounded” than the colors in Nighthawk. There’s no slick sheen, and the shadows look more natural than when the coloring is done digitally. Hollingsworth can add nuances that I don’t think you get with digital stuff – the interviewer in Panel 2 looks positively disfigured on the right side of his face, and I don’t know if digital coloring could make that shade twist his face so much. The browns are more drab than with digital coloring, too, and it helps create a feeling of bureaucracy, which is completely at odds with the chaos that Root has experienced.
Dillon lays out the page fairly well, but that’s never really been an issue with him. We get the establishing shot, and then, in case we missed him, the dude in the back gets Panel 2 all to himself. We slowly close in on Root from Panel 1 to Panel 6, so that in the final panel, we see only part of his face and can read the impotence and rage on it, because he doesn’t understand what happened to him and his men. The flashback panel is nicely done – it’s colored slightly differently, it’s larger than the row of panels it’s in, and the border is a bit thicker and jagged than the others. Kenny’s face is marvelous – he knows they’re fucked, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Root doesn’t show Kenny’s level of concern in the final panel, but it’s enough, especially given what we already know about Root. You’ll notice the man in the second panel looks almost contemptuous of Root, but Root doesn’t care. Why should he, given what he’s seen? Ennis does a nice job with the dialogue, but Dillon’s pacing also makes the page more tense, as we’re waiting for the appearance of the Saint of Killers and the slaughter that follows.
Re-reading Preacher recently, it didn’t quite impress me as much as it did 15 years ago, but it’s still impressive to see how Ennis and Dillon put together a comic book. They were really working well together on this series, and this first page is a good example of that.
Next: Everyone’s favorite current horror series! You know what it is! But which issue is it? It certainly hasn’t shown up yet in the archives!
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