Created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
I should point out: I tried to avoid having Garth Ennis dominate this top 10 list, but his output is so good and so prolific it simply couldn’t be avoided.
Here’s a comic book so sacrilegious, a Cardinal in a different city spontaneously combusted with the release of each issue. And yet, Preacher, the tale of man who quite literally goes looking for God, if only to kick his ass, celebrates faith, while simultaneously demolishing the institutions that have grown around it. Preacher is a lot of things: a celebration of Americana and friendship, a rip-roaring travelogue of America’s deepest, darkest corners, and it contains enough sin and blasphemy to make Satan blush.
When all is said and done, Preacher reminds us that true faith comes from within, not from without, and that true illumination comes only from self-determination, not strict adherence to religious dogma.
Also, there’s a guy with a face like an ass.
Yes, there’s over-the-top humor and gross-out gags to counterbalance the darkness, but the narrative never strays from its central precept: one man and a few true friends can accomplish anything, as long as the ghost of John Wayne is along for the ride to provide moral support.
A Preacher feature film has been stuck in development hell for over a decade. It’s time to abandon that format and focus on a television series, sequential storytelling lends itself better to Ennis’ tale anyway, which would need several seasons to reach its proper conclusion. Although, Christian groups are pretty much guaranteed to picket the offices of whatever network picks it up.
Written by Robert Kirkman
From the “never going to happen in a million years” files, and the mind that brought you, here comes Marvel Zombies! First thought of as a one-off joke, the Marvel Zombies brand soon blossomed into a veritable industry. Whether it was Kirkman’s tongue-in-necrotic-cheek approach or Arthur Suydam’s admittedly awesome covers, Marvel Zombies sold like hotcakes. Diseased, worm-filled hotcakes. Everybody knows how to stop a : with a well-placed bullet to the head. But how do you stop a zombified Hulk? Or a Wolverine?
I’m the best there is at what I do, and what I do best is decompose.
The series is well known for darker than dark humor, such as the scene in which Kingpin comfort-eats his beloved wife Vanessa, or Deadpool’s severed head provides a running commentary on the goings-on. Sure, the premise has, by now, been run into the ground by the glut of crossovers and subsequent minis, but you haven’t lived till you’ve seen zombie Spider-Man anguish over having eaten his wife and Aunt May. Bonus geek points: the series once had a crossover with Amy Of Darkness and it’s a well known fact that adding Bruce Campbell to anything is a recipe for success.
No.3 Chronicles of Wormwood
Created by Garth Ennis
If Preacher was a mostly straight attempt to blast modern religion, then Chronicles Of Wormwood is the sitcom version of the story. Picture this: Danny Wormwood is the Antichrist. The son of Satan himself. He’s a cable TV producer (of course) who lives with his pet rabbit, Jimmy, who he gave sentience to because he was bored one day. Whenever he needs to unwind, Danny hangs out at a bar with his best friend, Jay, who happens to be a reincarnated Jesus Christ (who also happens to be black), who has some minor mental issues because of a sad nightstick-to-the-head incident at a protest rally.
Yeah, that’s right, the Antichrist and Jesus are the best friends. Pals through thick and thin, who occasionally go on road trips through the afterlife. Danny is due to trigger the apocalypse, but sees no real reason to, other than to get his nagging dad off his back. I dare you to tell me that summary doesn’t sound like the plot to the best sitcom ever! It isn’t all fun and games, though. Danny is occasionally in deep trouble with his girlfriend, because he had sex with an epically horny Joan Of Arc. Yes, that Joan Of Arc. He also needs to fend off Vatican assassins, since the Pope isn’t too pleased with having the Antichrist walking around.
In my day they just used to rap you on the fingers with a ruler.
The worst part is: Danny has absolutely no intention of triggering Armageddon. He’s just a guy with supernatural powers that enjoys crappy TV shows, has relationship problems with his pregnant girlfriend, and likes to hang out with his buddy at the bar at the end of a long day. The antichrist isn’t evil, he’s just a normal Joe.
No.2 Locke & Key
Created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
When you’re the son of Stephen and Tabitha King, your career choices are pretty much limited to writing scary shit. Hence, Joe Hill’s amazing Locke And Key.
Locke And Key’s plot is hard to condense in a single paragraph, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice by reading any spoilers anyway. Suffice it to say, I highly recommend picking up the first story arc, Welcome To Lovecraft, and discovering it for yourself. Part haunted house mystery, part growing up tale, Locke And Key mixes ingredients from Lovecraft’s oeuvre with a pinch of Neil Gaiman stylings. A TV pilot was actually shot in 2011, starring Miranda Otto and Nick Stahl as Duncan and Nina Locke. However, it wasn’t picked up by any network, and the producers are currently shopping it around. Cross your fingers! And speaking of crossing…
Created by Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows
Was there ever any doubt that this property would be Number 1? Quite possibly the most pornographically violent series on this list, Crossed is in a class all its own when it comes to. Yet another variant on the zombie plague, Crossed forgoes the consumption of human flesh and replaces it with desire without restraint. The Crossed, thus named for the red T-shaped scar that appears on their faces following infection, aren’t one-trick ponies like your average zombie. They learn, they adapt, they invent. And they have no morals whatsoever.
Once infected, a Crossed will giddily throw babies in front of speeding buses, rape and murder small children, ride lawnmowers over their loved ones and wear emptied-out heads as a trophies. They can speak, if only to lash out with profanity-laced tirades, and they quickly learn to weaponize their own fluids to infect others. And if you think those fluids are limited to blood, you’d be sadly mistaken, the Crossed happily masturbate into their ammunition to coat it with semen, dooming any poor soul they manage to hit. Ennis’ words help convey the hopelessness of the situation, but it’s Jacen Burrows truly sickening, yet incredibly detailed, art that sucks the reader in, perhaps even in spite of himself.
There are no heroes in Crossed, only survivors, often at odds both with the monsters hunting them, and the more human monsters within their group. Crossed is vile, disgusting and filled with sights you often wish you could un-see. The origin of the plague is unknown and hardly the point. The Crossed are here, and it’s only a matter of time before they get you, rape both you and your wife and rip your children to pieces.
Your faithful reviewer,