The thing is, it's not like this is a work like The Passion of the Christ or Dogma where it was made by Christians who had some controversial things to say about their faith. It was written by Garth Ennis, an atheist. (I don't know if the illustrator Steve Dillon is one or not.) Not only that, but it comes to the logical conclusion that every atheist comes to: if the Christian God were actually real, then he would be a villain. One of the best parts of the entire series was when God tried to explain how good and loving he was while he was simultaneously doing all sorts of evil stuff.
It's been a while, but it's high-time for me to re-read this entire series. When people ask me what my favorite comic of all time is, I instantly say Preacher. Sure, I may be a bigger fan of characters like Spider-Man, Batman, and Captain America, but those characters have had a whole host of writers and artists creating their adventures. With the exceptions of some guest artists doing some related miniseries, Preacher has had one consistent vision. It's good from beginning to end - all 70+ issues of it.
I'm hesitant to explain the plot, as it really sells it all short, but here goes anyway: a powerful creature who's the offspring of an angel/demon love affair comes to Earth and fuses with a Texas preacher who's lost his faith. The preacher, Jesse Custer, soon learns that God has quit out of fear of the creature, so he decides to search for God and make him explain himself. Along for the ride are his gun-toting girlfriend, Tulip and his Irish Vampire buddy, Cassidy.
While the story is compelling, the best part of the series has always been the characterizations. Cassidy is probably my favorite character, mainly because he reminds me of so many total screwups that I've known in my life. He's one of those people whose self-destructive behavior creates more and more problems for him, and yet he never seems to be able to get a grasp of how he's the cause of so many of his own problems.
This series really came at a right time for me. I started reading it when I was having my own struggle with faith. By the time the series had finished, I was an admitted atheist. Was there a connection? It would be crazy to say that it turned me into one. Still, it might have sped up the process a little bit.
Oh, and this series also has some wonderfully obscene quotes. (And I should warn anybody who might be interested, there's some of the most screwed up, totally perverted things going on in this series. It's hardly the draw of the story, but dammit if it's not part of the entertainment factor. Many times I went "Oh my god!" while reading it - like when the series introduced a guy who likes to have sex with meat products.) There are also a lot of great quotes, and here's a quick sample. Potty mouth language will ensue:
Son of God or son of man, Marseille: You can't fuck your sister and expect much good to come of it.
I'm sayin' you're the kind of guy who'd crawl through a perfectly good whorehouse to get to a fat boy's ass.
Why is it the greatest champions of the white race always turn out to be the worst examples of it? YOU! Where the fuck is your CHIN?
Time I'm done with you, you're gonna wish your Father pulled out early.
They're having something called sex, Hoover, and apparently enjoying it immensely as I myself once did before a certain moron arranged to have me anally raped.
I have an enormous penis. I pay women to tell me so.
Jesus Cass, you look like Wil E. Coyote after one of his fuckups.