Comic Book Origins: Preacher

Script written by Craig Butler When he talks, people listen – and obey. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origin of Preacher. As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character's past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline that unfolded in 1995's Preacher #1 and #4, which was expanded upon in 1995-96's Preacher #8-10. Special thanks to our user bigpapazagonfor submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Craig Butler


Superhero Origins: Preacher


When he talks, people listen – and obey. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Preacher.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline that unfolded in 1995’s Preacher #1 and #4, which was expanded upon in 1995-96’s Preacher #8-10.

Many evangelical ministers are known for their persuasive use of words, but Jesse Custer, known simply as Preacher, takes that to a new level. Possessed by a mysterious force, he can make people obey his words – whether they want to or not.

Preacher’s origin was spread out over several issues, but the basics were presented in the first story arc in 1995. Jesse Custer was originally the minister of a congregation in the small southern town of Annville. Discouraged by the low turnout at his services, he wandered into the local bar and proceeded to antagonize his flock. As a preacher, he’s privy to a lot of secrets – and he shared them with the community. That didn’t sit very well with his parishioners, and soon Custer was knocked out cold.

Meanwhile, up in Heaven, a group of angels had discovered a problem. Something named Genesis, which they were watching over, had broken out and fled. After killing a seraphim, Genesis had made its way to Earth and was looking for a soul to bond with.

One of the angels was then dispatched to find a being known as the Saint of Killers. The angel traveled to a graveyard, and discovered the Saint of Killers, who promptly shot the angel. As he died, the angel told his killer that if Genesis does bond with a mortal man, it would have disastrous consequences. The Saint of Killers set off to destroy Genesis and any host body he assumed.

As this was going on, Jesse Custer was getting ready to deliver a sermon. Because of his eventful visit the night before, the entire town of Annville was in church for once. Suddenly, the entity known as Genesis descended and took possession of Custer. In moments, the people of Annville had been utterly destroyed, with only Custer left alive.

By coincidence – or perhaps divine intervention – Custer’s ex-girlfriend, Tulip, was passing by with her friend, a vampire named Cassidy. They pulled Custer’s unconscious body from the wreckage of the church. When he awoke, he told them something had invaded his mind – something that had been born from the mating of an angel of Heaven and a demon of Hell – namely, Genesis.

Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of a redneck sheriff and his colleagues, who drew their guns on them. Suddenly, Custer spoke in a strange and unearthly voice, commanding the police to drop their guns and let them go. The officers complied, unable to resist and unable to lift a finger against Custer and his friends as they drove away.

Eventually, Preacher discovered that on the day Genesis was born, the Lord quit and left Heaven – apparently afraid of the power that Genesis would have. Preacher decided he needed to find where God was hiding, apparently on Earth, and get him to own up to what had happened. Thus began Preacher’s quest.

Those first issues explained how Jesse Custer became possessed by Genesis and became Preacher. But a few months later, more information was revealed about Jesse’s family and early life. Jesse’s father was a Marine who had served in Vietnam. His mother had escaped from an abusive family with an insane, cult-like religious fanaticism. When Jesse was young, his grandmother and other her minions killed Jesse’s father in front of him. Jesse was expected to become a preacher, as was typical of males in this corrupt bloodline. When he misbehaved, he punished by being put in a coffin and submerged in a lake for days or weeks on end with no food and only a tube for air and water.

One day he escaped and began living his own life. He met Tulip, fell in love with her and planned to stay with her forever – but his grandmother’s lackeys found him and dragged him back. In the cult’s clutches again, his will was broken when Tulip was executed and he eventually accepted his calling as a preacher – which is how he came to be in Annville when the series began.

Writer Garth Ennis created a fascinating world and character in the comic book “Preacher,” one that inspired a fervent and devoted following. There were several attempts to adapt the series into a film or TV series which repeatedly fell through. But Preacher finally made it onto the small screen with the AMC series, letting a wider audience experience this strange but captivating character.

Are you a fan of the profane and persuasive Preacher? For more awe-inspiring comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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