'Preacher' Review: How 'Damsels' Is Different Than The Original Comics

(Each week, we're going to kick off discussion about Preacher season 2 by examining the differences between the original comics and AMC's television adaptation.)

After last week's episode of Preacher, which went off-book in some pretty significant ways, "Damsels" continues the trend. The story is going in the same general direction as the acclaimed '90s Vertigo series, but the journey is taking a few unexpected twists and turns.

One thing is for sure though – Herr Starr is going to be a big part of it.

preacher damsels review 2

Suicide Pact

One of the biggest changes has to be in the origin story of Eugene, also known Arseface. It was one plot point that most readers assumed would have to be tweaked, since the whole reason that Arseface is who he is in the comics was because of Nirvana. Kurt Cobain's death is the reason that Eugene and his friend decide to commit suicide in the comic, except Eugene botches his and ends up having to drink everything through a straw for the rest of his days.

Nirvana isn't relevant to teens anymore, so that had to go. In the show, it's revealed that Eugene did it once again because of a friend, but this friend is a girl he's been pining after. He's in her room, hanging out, when she reveals she's about to kill herself and shoves a shotgun in her face. He stops her and convinces her to burn her suicide note, only to ruin things by trying to kiss her. This prompts her to blow her head off anyway, now sans all-important note. Oops. So Eugene's trapped in her locked room with her corpse and a gun with his fingerprints on it when his friend's mom starts frantically knocking on the door.

So he shoots himself too, botching it at the last second.

We learn this because poor Eugene is being forced to relive this scene over and over and over again. Because he's in Hell. It's something that never happened in the comic, but it's obvious that something bad is happening down there when he is unexpectedly released from his torment...the details of which will be revealed in later episodes.

It's a really interesting way to make Eugene a more important part of the overall plot. In the comics, he comes in and out of the story, usually to lighten the mood, but here, it seems he'll have a major role to play. It's exciting.

preacher tulip

New Orleans Jazz

Meanwhile, our heroic trio is heading to The Big Easy because they heard that God has a thing for jazz music, and where else do you go when you want to listen to some? Tulip tries to keep Jesse from heading there by pointing out that every damn place has jazz now, but it doesn't work. She has personal reasons she's not ready to share, and after not telling him that she slept with Cassidy, she's also not revealing that a hitman tried to kill her in the casino.

The Tulip of the comics is certainly a sociopath and great with guns, but she messes up her first job as a hitwoman, shooting a guy's jaw off and running away in horror. In the show, Tulip is a successful hitwoman but she's left the job, and her past is starting to come back to haunt her. We're not quite sure what she's done, but that former co-worker last episode was just the start. Now, she's worried about someone named Viktor, who apparently really wants to know where she is.

Things go south when she's recognized by what appears to be an old family friend and sure enough, at the very end, she's cornered by the gang in a great scene where she's pumping quarters into a laundromat cigarette machine. The next episode is titled simply "Viktor," so you can be sure we'll find out more of Tulip's backstory.

The Grail and Featherstone

While Cassidy and Tulip head to bunker down at an old friend of the vampire's (thankfully not Si Coltrane!), Jesse heads off to find God in some of the many bars in the neighborhood. This leads to some violence as he gets into bar fights, but it's mostly just people laughing at the preacher for asking silly questions.

All he's succeeding at is getting drunk...until he finds a jazz singer at a nearby bar might know about God. After more than a little flirting with the singer, Jesse sees her being kidnapped from outside the bar and runs outside to save her, resulting in one of the best fight scenes of the show so far. It's a helluva battle and is incredibly choreographed in a couple of long takes as he takes on the kidnappers with his fists, not relying on the voice to fight his battles.

His reasons for not using the voice of God make a lot more sense here. In the comic, he doesn't rely on it so he doesn't go soft. I mean, why wouldn't you?

But the woman he saved turns out to be none other than Featherstone in a wig! If you've read the comics, you know that she plays a major part. In the source material,  she also helps track Jesse down, although the team is in San Francisco at that point.

At the end, she says that she has to kick things up to Sampson unit and it's time for the reveal of Herr Starr. The greatest villain of the entire Preacher series, Starr is the (bald and scarred) head of that unit and the Sacred Executioner of The Grail. Those white-suited fanatics? They're all members. The Grail itself has some very insane religious connections that we will not spoil for the show-watchers here, but let's just say that they are after Jesse. More specifically, his power.

Now, with both the Saint of Killers and The Grail trying to find Genesis, things should be really interesting for the rest of the season.

Preacher Dog

Bonus References

(There are so many little nods to the comics that we'd like to focus on – did you see the Bill Hicks poster last episode? – so let's look at some of the best.)

  • In the car on the way to New Orleans, Jesse says he doesn't have an issue with New Orleans, he just doesn't like the swamps. "It's a family thing," he says before moving onto another topic. This seems to indicate that they're going to be bringing back his family history at some point and hoo boy, does the swamp factor into it. We just wonder how the rest of his family is doing.
  • When Tulip leaves Jesse to go get a room she says "Till the end of the world, right?" This is a reference to the second volume of Preacher, titled Until the End of the World, which for my money, features the finest arc of the entire run. It also hints at what's going to happen to Tulip's character in episodes to come. She is running across some dangerous folks.
  • At the bar, Jesse is drinking Ratwater (neat), a little reference to the hometown of the Saint of Killers.
  • On Herr Starr's desk, directly above the file labeled Jesse Custer, is one titled "Pig". This is the name of the upcoming seventh episode of the season. Since Odin Quincannon is presumably done for, we're not sure what this Pig could be in reference to yet...
  • There's no Jesus de Sade in the show (yet), but his famously debaucherous sex orgies get a little nod here when Jesse and crew get led down a back alley after asking to see God. Here they meet a man in a latex dog costume and are informed it's quite a bit of money to have their way with him.