Through the first three episodes of Preacher, the series still possesses the intimacy of a small-town drama centered around three characters, one of whom just happens to be a vampire, and the other of whom just happens to be able to control the actions of people with his voice. Anville, Texas is like a deranged Mayberry with a small-town preacher, a well-meaning cop, his arsefaced Opie, and a town drunk who beats his wife… because she likes it.
In its scope, Preacher feels nothing like the universe created by Garth Ennis in the comics, which jumped all over the globe, from NYC to San Francisco to France, and was populated with dozens of characters and a sex scene or a brutal act of violence on every other page. Right now, Preacher is a show that took three characters from the comics — Jesse Custer, Cassidy, and Tulip — and grounded them in a different world. It’s not as fast-paced or depraved as the source material, but it is more relatable, and far better suited to weekly episodes on the small screen.
It’s challenging, however, to introduce some of the villains in the comics while still keeping it grounded in reality, but creators Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg have been smart about it. In the pilot, they introduced Fiore and DeBlanc — who are angels in the comics — as mysterious government agents. Last week, they introduced the Saint of Killers — the actual Angel of Death — as a cowboy with a family.
One of the other major villains in Preacher — in fact, the major villain, along with the Saint of Killers — is a man named Herr Starr. We caught a very quick glimpse of him in the cold open for this week’s episode, “The Possibilities.” In the show, the only thing we know is that Herr Starr works for Grail Industries, which represents another departure from the comics designed to keep the series more grounded.
Spoilers from the Comics
In the source material, Herr Starr works for the Grail, which is not so much an company as it is an organization designed to protect the bloodline of Jesus Christ, himself. In the world of the comics, Jesus did not die during the crucifixion. He was induced into a coma, woke up three days later, and went on to conceive several children with a woman named Mary. His bloodline remained pure through inbreeding, and the Grail was designed to protect the members of that bloodline — and the next Messiah — for the coming Armageddon. Herr Starr had plans to overthrow the Grail and replace the inbred Messiah with Jesse Custer.
The fact that Herr Starr works for Grail Industries hints that Preacher the series will shrink down this larger-than-life figure into a character more suited to our television screens. How they will go about that has yet to be seen, but I would speculate that Grail Industries is a giant conglomerate that plans to, say, use Jesse Custer to manufacture an event that will scare the world into believing that doomsday is coming in an effort to drive up the price of Grail Industries stock or something along those lines. The map Herr Starr received from Tulip is likely designed to help Herr Starr overthrow the existing CEO of Grail Industries, so that he may assume leadership.
In any case, it’s another reminder that the television series is most certainly a different beast than the comics. They use the same characters and explore the same themes, but the series intends to operate on a smaller scale.