There were few comic books as influential in the ’90s as Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. The combination of iconic Western imagery–a killer Angel of Death in a Clint Eastwood duster, the ghost of John Wayne, the Texas preacher with the drunken-yet-amusing sidekick–and an irreverent approach to heady religious themes resulted in a thrilling blend of mean-spirited humor and genuine soul-searching heart. As a result of the genre-defining 75 issue run from Vertigo (if you include the one-shots and miniseries’ that buttressed the main title’s 66 issues), attempts to adapt the story to film have been going on for nearly two decades, with filmmakers from Rachel Talalay, Kevin Smith, Mark Steven Johnson, and Sam Mendes all attached at various points. But despite the clear and obvious interest from Hollywood, it took Seth Rogen–working with longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg and Breaking Bad’s Sam Catlin–to actually deliver anything more than the occasional screentest or speculative casting announcement.
AMC ordered Preacher to series earlier this summer, and during Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead, it delivered its first look at the forthcoming show, which is expected to premiere next May. And so far, what they have keeps things fairly close to the vest: We see Dominic Cooper as Reverend Jesse Custer, wearing a beard and the costume–black jacket, black shirt, white collar, gold tips–he wears in nearly every issue of the comic book. We also get a glimpse of Joe Gilgun’s Cassidy, the hard-drinking Irish vampire who befriends Custer, as well as a snapshot of Ruth Negga’s Tulip, Custer’s ex-girlfriend. But there’s a lot of context absent from the trailer, which suggests a Texas preacher with a dark past who avenges wrongdoing in his small town through acts of extreme violence. That’s an interesting premise for a TV show, but it barely scratches the surface of what Preacher is likely to contain–namely, the supernatural elements that includes angels and demons, vampires and immortal gunslingers, an absent Lord and a power called “The Word of God.” All of which suggests that, while Preacher looks stylish, moody, dark, and fascinating, the extent to which it captures what Ennis and Dillon did in the seminal comic book remains to be seen. But with a glimpse at the show in front of us now, fans both old and new have a much better idea of what they’re anticipating come next year.