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Step aside, Rick Grimes. There’s a new sheriff in town, and he comes with a frock.
This month, AMC follows up The Walking Dead with a brand-new comic book adaptation: Preacher, based on the cult classic Vertigo Comics series written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Steve Dillon. It tells the viscerally violent and vulgar story of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a hard-drinking, chain-smoking preacher who becomes the owner of an extraordinary power right at the height of a crisis of faith. He embarks on a quest to better understand and utilize his new gift alongside trigger-happy ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and new friend Cassidy (Joe Gilgun), a legendary boozehound and literal blood-sucker.
The show, developed and executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, debuts on AMC following the midseason finale of Fear the Walking Dead. Ahead of its premiere, here’s what viewers can expect from the cable network’s newest comic book endeavor, based on information gleaned from the first four episodes.
1. The Bad Man in Charge
Rogen and Goldberg developed the Preacher adaptation, but showrunning duties fall on Sam Catlin, best known for his work as a producer and writer on AMC’s Breaking Bad. Catlin wrote some of the most memorable episodes of Walter White’s meth-cooking odyssey, including “4 Days Out” and “Fly.” Those same sensibilities show throughout Preacher‘s slow-boiling story, its propensity for levity in the midst of darkness and its sprawling desert landscapes.
2. Moving Beyond the Source
Despite its rich comic book origins, the Preacher TV series takes extreme leaps away from the source material, even more notably than the marked differences between the Walking Dead show and comics. Indeed, the premise of the initial episodes leans on several later-stage beats from the comics, including large swathes of the “Salvation” storyline. Comic book purists hoping for a beat-for-beat adaptation won’t find it here.
3. The Spirit of Preacher
Differences aside, the tone and characters of Ennis and Dillon’s saga are faithfully realized in AMC’s Preacher. Custer, Cassidy and Tulip all come equipped with their fundamental strengths and weaknesses intact: inflexible moral codes, egregious substance abuse problems and an almost artful way with violence, as it applies to all three protagonists. What’s more, certain aspects from the comics are adapted almost note-for-note, including a cold open focusing on one of the most iconic characters in Ennis and Dillon’s run. While the differences between the comic and show certainly exist, critical strands of DNA still tie the two together.
4. Dropping an Annville
The Preacher comics exist mostly on the road, and while the show might incorporate that globe-trotting quality eventually, it has planted its roots in Texas for now. The first four episodes take place in the fictional town of Annville, a small community where rumors fly fast and secrets are buried just as quickly. The main crop of characters boast close ties to Annville, altering some origins along the way. In the comics, Jesse and friends roam all over America, from Texas to New York City, and even travel as far as Ireland and France.
5. The New Eugene in Town
The most readily identifiable face in the Preacher comics very much exists on the show, albeit with a new name: Eugene, played by Ian Colletti. No relation to the AMC apocalypse’s stage-two zombie slayer of the same name, but one bound to make an impact all the same. However, in the comics, Eugene boasts a very different moniker: Arseface. Why? Well … some things defy explanation. Cassidy bestows the nickname on the kind-hearted, hard-rocking youth in the comics, and does so on the show as well; however, through four episodes, Eugene is the name that sticks.
6. Angels and Demons
The world of Preacher extends far beyond the mortal realm. The entire premise rests on the existence of otherworldly ideas beyond common comprehension, lending authenticity to the show’s heady conversations about Heaven and Hell — because in this world, both concepts exist, albeit not necessarily in a way a certain preacher would expect … or appreciate, for that matter. All the same, the grounded bare-knuckled action of Preacher exists simultaneously with a bigger cosmic picture, one that’s sure to unveil itself over the course of the season.
7. There Will Be Blood
Gore comes with the territory, and by the bucket full. It’s no surprise, given that one of the main characters is an immortal Irishman with a penchant for drugs, booze and blood, and especially considering the source material, which contains some of the most graphic deaths, injuries and other assorted forms of disturbing behavior in the medium. Look no further than Cassidy and Tulip’s introductory scenes, and Jesse’s first bar fight, for what to expect in terms of the show’s relationship with violence.
Preacher premieres at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, May 22, on AMC. Stay tuned to THR‘s The Live Feed for full coverage.
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