AMC have commissioned a pilot for a Preacher series, and if that doesn’t get your adrenaline flowing you need to leave and read Preacher right now. Written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Steve Dillon, two of the best in their respective fields, and this is arguably the best thing either has ever done. Preacher embodied everything the Vertigo imprint was created for: powerful stories which simply wouldn’t pass editorial in a more mainstream universe.
Not that the pilot is necessarily a good thing. We said it would get your adrenaline flowing, because that can come from excitement or fear. Television adaptations don’t have a spectacular record with comic books at the best of times, and Preacher is practically a checklist of things you’re not allowed to do in mass market television. It makes Breaking Bad look like Sesame Street: yes, that was brutal, but it was still “drugs and killing people”, and therefore no more taboo than Bruce Lee’s The Big Boss.
Preacher starts when an angel and devil have sex, and that is by far the least blasphemous bit of the story. The heroes’ avowed mission is to make god pay, and along the way they meet mutilated rock stars, sex detectives who are literally as well as figuratively buggered, a man who foreplays with his food, and – possibly most appalling by modern censorship standards – a woman enjoying sex without being penalized in any way. By the time they boil all that down into something transmissible on TV, we might end up with “Texan Guy and his Irish friend go drinking!” But we’ll be there, hoping that some miracle can save the Preacher man.