Preacher Comic-Con Panel

AMC’s Preacher is based on one of the most popular (and controversial) comic books of the past few decades, so it’s right at home at Comic-Con. The blasphemous blend of fantasy, horror, and comedy has showcased some serious momentum in its second season and the series’ panel revealed a new trailer and an extended clip that promise the off-kilter insanity isn’t stopping anytime soon.

The Trailer

The panel kicked off with a new trailer showing the road ahead for season 2. Some of the new characters, like Pip Torrens‘s Herr Starr, will prove familiar to readers of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon‘s comic. Other moments, like Eugene and Hitler attempting a prison escape from Hell, have been entirely invented for television. In both cases, it all looks completely wild.

The Origins of Herr Starr

In addition to the trailer, the panel also played an extended clip from an upcoming episode of the show that introduces Herr Starr. The main human antagonist of the comic, Starr is an operative for a powerful organization called The Grail, whose motivations are best discovered in the context of the show (let’s just say they’re wild and grotesque and sure to upset the easily offended).

“The next episode that airs is the one that introduces The Grail more thoroughly,” series co-creator and director Seth Rogen explained. Starr runs the Samson Unit, which makes him one of the most powerful men on the planet. “In the comic, he’s one of the best characters,” Rogen said.

And while he didn’t reveal the goals of The Grail, Rogen did introduce a clip – a flashback to Starr “auditioning” for a role in the shadowy organization. The ensuing montage finds Starr and a slowly dwindling number of applicants undergoing rigorous physical and mental tests. Starr, unflappable and unconventional and not worried at all about angering the administrators of the test (he’s very concerned about getting his parking validated), beats out the more traditional military types, surviving torture, winning a fight by redefining “fighting dirty,” and finally snagging the job with a brutal punchline that is pure Preacher – and pure Starr. I think fans of the comic are going to be delighted by Torrens, whose overtly serious and often sadistic reactions to every obstacle in his life are horrifying and hilarious in equal measure.

Torrens described Herr Starr as “highly therapeutic character to play” and you can really see that in the footage.

The Panel

The rest of the panel featured a Q&A with Rogen, Torrens, Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, Graham McTavish, Ian Colletti, Malcom Barrett, and Julie Ann Emery. Rogen got things started by saying that adapting the comic was a “childhood dream come true” and that the mere fact they could make the show at all was a testament to how “people’s sensibilities have declined over the years.” He joked, “It’s really nice for us that we’re living in such an age of decline and can contribute to that decline.”

Rogen also commented on the first season, suggesting even he may agree that it moves a little too slowly. Still, he felt it was important to ease non-readers in to this truly insane world…before killing off the entire entire supporting cast and starting over. “We literally killed everyone,” he said. “[Those were] some awkward phone calls.”

Next in line was Dominic Cooper, who teased that we’ll be learning more about Jesse’s traumatizing childhood (familiar to comic readers) in the episodes ahead. “It makes sense to me, the darker side of him,” he said, noting that his character is driven by anger and resentment, which often fuels his irresponsible use of Genesis.

But what about Tulip’s journey? Ruth Negga said this season is all about her character learning that her relationship with Jesse will never return to the “pre-Dallas” days. “Her journey this season is [learning] that’s not possible,” she said.

And what about the estranged couple’s vampire buddy, Cassidy? “He’s definitely on a path of redemption,” Gilgun said, noting that being with his new friends is like being in rehab after doing many terrible things. “There’s something stable for the first time in a long time,” he said.

Chiming in, Rogen noted that season 2 “gets a little more vampire-y in the back half,” promising that we’ll see more sides of Cassidy’s journey.

Meanwhile, Graham McTavish noted that the fearsome Saint of Killers is, underneath that gruff exterior, all about love. “He is a man with singularity of purpose,” he said. “I try to relate everything to reality in some form or another. Most people’s purpose is to look after their family and provide for them. That was his purpose until it was taken away from him.” McTavish emphasized that the Saint carries the love of his family in every scene, even if he’s shooting everyone in sight.

But what about Rogen? Will he ever appear on the show as a character? He wouldn’t go into specifics, but he did note that there is a character in season 3 who he could play. Maybe. When asked if he and frequent collaborator James Franco would play the “sexual investigators” from the comics, Rogen said no and cracked, “It’s too close to life.”

While I enjoyed the first season of Preacher, it was a definitely show that was struggling to find its voice, sometimes venturing far from the source material with mixed success. However, season 2 has been a major improvement on all levels: it’s gotten weirder, darker, funnier, crazier, and more in line with the source material (while also finding plenty of ways to diverge). Everything I saw at the panel promises that this new season will continue down the same track…and that’s a good thing.

The rest of Preacher‘s 13-episode second season will continue to run throughout the summer.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: