Preacher’s third season has been a catch-22. Preacher purists will dislike it because it’s strays too far from the comics, whereas I think it’s too faithful because I don’t find the comics to be the unimpeachable masterpiece that everyone else does. (Now it’d be a horse of a different color if this was a televisual Transmetropolitan.)
This Luke Cage season two review is somewhat late because it’s not a series conducive to binging in one day. It should be more punctual than my season one review. Does that make it a lukewarm take? Much like the headline, this contains spoilers.
I’m happy to say that Preacher season two is an improvement over the first. The great stuff carries over, the dead weight is mostly gone, the pacing is less languorous, & there’s plenty of added intrigue. AMC even adapted a few of the more outrageous scenes by Ennis & Dillon. If you’d like to remain unspoiled, skip to the end where I bid adieu to one of my favorite YouTube channels.
Wingnut was one of my favorite action figures & a favorite character of the Archie comics. When the current TMNT toon started, I was dismayed to see that its Wingnut was apparently just a mutated Kirby O’Neil with a stumpy arm & huge cranium. The fact that his merchandise was officially labelled Kirby-Bat gave me some hope the real deal would show up. When they went into space for the first half of season four, I expected them to meet the real Wingnut & Screwloose. They didn’t, even though they could’ve tied the destruction of their homeworlds in with the Kraang, Triceratons, or Lord Dregg. I finally got my wish during “Bat In The Belfry”… sort of.
Both are conjured out of Michelangelo’s comic book via April’s Aeon Crystal as a clever way to explain why they’re dressed like Batman & Robin. (The Fantastic Four Food Groups is the best comic book nod in the episode.) This is a unique spin that still keeps them recognizable, unlike the Neutrinos or Antrax. They’re still extraterrestrials, albeit emphatically fictional ones. This allows for fun homages to Batman ’66 & Batman: The Brave & The Bold! (I will always be delighted that the show has turned Turflytle from a one-shot gag into a running joke.) The Wingnut-a-rangs being live bats just like on the toy was cute. Bonus points for Monoculus & Skullface McGillin!
Although they were presented much better than the generic brainwashing aliens of their classic cartoon appearance, my main problem is that we don’t get to spend enough time with them. Secondly, Wingnut’s brown & black costume is too drab. If they weren’t going to do blue & grey like the toy, blue & purple like the comics (with Screwloose in green) would’ve looked better. His alternate suits in their lair would’ve also popped more. Thirdly, they don’t call anyone “plankton chip.”
Their crystal-crazed faces were wonderfully deranged. Was that heel turn a commentary on how trying to make fantasy too lifelike spoils it, much like Amazon’s The Tick? Or was it referencing how TMNT developed a life of its own distinct from its parody roots? It was probably just further foreshadowing April going Dark Phoenix since she’s also ginger, but sometime I like overthinking stuff.
Sadly Wingnut & Screwloose are returned to the printed page before we get a chance to really know them beyond their archetypes. I wish they would’ve stuck around to join the Mighty Mutanimals. We’d just need Dreadmon, Man-Ray/Ray Fillet, & Jagwar to round out the classic team.
So I guess this version of Wingnut & Screwloose substitute for the Donatello Micro-Series story where April’s superintendent is Jack Kirby who makes Fourth World drawings come to life via the crystal on his pencil? That was adapted very well in the 2003 series. Did you know that Peter Laird retconned April to have been a drawing brought to life by that crystal in the last series he worked on? I missed the final two issues of that. TMNT comics are weird.
Generally speaking, I am a proponent of slavish adaptations. I allow more wiggle room for adaptations of corporate properties that’ve had decades to accumulate complexities like The F-Lash & Got Ham?, but creator-driven works ought to be presented faithfully. (Why does neither Dirk Gently TV series directly adapt Douglas Adams’s marvelous books? Why is the screenwriter who completely missed the point of I, Robot allowed to bastardize Caves of Steel next?) I thought television would be a better medium for Preacher than film because it wouldn’t need to abridge as much. So I was dismayed to hear that AMC’s Preacher (at least its first season) would be more of a prequel to the comics.
It is fortuitous, however, that I haven’t gotten around to reading the Vertigo (a DC Comics imprint, whose branding is absent from the TV series) Preacher comics by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon yet. I certainly know of them thanks to things like Previews & Wizard Magazine. (Back in my day, we had to wait a whole month between spoilers!) So while diehard fans may take umbrage at the liberties taken with their favorite comic book, I’m enjoying the show as it rolls along. It’s not quite right to call it a prequel. Much like Bryan Fuller’s dearly departed Hannibal, this is more of a remix of various elements from the story. In that sense it’s a truer adaptation than something like iZombie, which took the Vertigo comic’s title & basic idea but none of the characters or supernatural cosmology. It hasn’t been lazily grafted onto a police procedural like Lucifer either. At least this adaptation does, however, feel like it’s in the same ballpark as the source material. So this overview will have more TV SPOILERS than comic book SPOILERS.
For a show with Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg at the helm, it’s classier than expected. Breaking Bad’s Sam Catlin may be partially responsible for this. Of course it’s not too classy that it loses its irreverent flavor. It’s full of striking vistas of southern desolation. The cast is the right ratio of pretty : looks like they’re drawn by Steve Dillon. Overall, it works better than I can imagine Sam Mendes’s aborted movie turning out.
One of the big complaints I’ve heard about the show is its lack of tonal consistency. For all I care, tonal consistency can take a long walk off a short pier! Why would I only want one tone? One of the best parts of Preacher is how nonchalantly it flips from one tone & genre to another. Sure, tonal consistency can have its uses in other art, but it’s got no business being forced upon this genre-bender. Unless it has maintained the consistent tone of “Garth Ennis comic” throughout. Cognitive dissonance for the win!
My first novel, The Dolorous Adventure of Brother Banenose, going out of print was a very depressing, hectic, & confusing time for me. Fortunately that period is coming to an end. Lethe Press will be republishing The Dolorous Adventure of Brother Banenose! Lethe Press specializes in both LGBTQIA fiction & rescuing out of print books from the River Lethe. Its publisher, Steve Berman, personally reached out to me about giving the book a new home.
Lethe Press plans to relaunch the book this fall. (I’m crossing my fingers & toes that this doesn’t become an annual occurrence.) The new edition will feature a revised afterword & a new cover. So there will be some degree of novelty in the new edition if you’ve already got the first. You’ll be able to put them side by side to compare & contrast. So if you missed out on The Dolorous Adventure of Brother Banenose the first time, you’re getting a second chance. If you liked the book so much that you’d like to buy it again, you’re also in luck!
Thank you very much for bringing Brother Banenose, Fairuza, Stephfi, & all the rest aboard, Lethe Press!