In the past few years, more and more acclaimed comic book series have started to find a foothold in the videogame world. Beyond the scope of the usual DC or Marvel heroes (Batman or X-men games for instance), more obscure delights are being given the green light and the results have been amazing.
Largely thanks to Telltale Games taking an episodic approach to comic series (releasing the games in chunks, or episodes, for gamers to find their way through periodically rather than just one big game) like Eisner Award winning ‘The Walking Dead‘ or more recently, their borrowing from the ‘Fables’ universe with ‘The Wolf Among Us’, have found fresh new audiences in videogame format.
Gamers that have either loved the comics or missed them entirely have really connected with the opportunity to take control of Lee Everett (and in Season Two, Clementine) to experience life in the post-apocalyptic landscape of The Walking Dead. Similarly, taking the role of Bigby as he travels through the unusual fairy-tale wold of Fabletown in ‘The Wolf Among Us’ has proven to be exceptionally popular.
Well, there is a similarly critically acclaimed, under appreciated comic series, waiting in the wings – just ripe to be given the Telltale treatment and turned into a household name.
Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s ‘Preacher’ series ran for 66 issues (plus specials) from 1996 – 2000, published by Vertigo. It is packed full of deep, dark and outlandish themes, truly iconic characters and was perhaps one of the most controversial stories of its time.
It had the pre-requisite smattering of violence, gunplay, foul language, toilet humour and truly sickening imagery on occasion – those are all par for the course. What made Preacher virtually untouchable outside of the comic book world (and why we are yet to see the TV series or movie 14 years after the final issue) is that it had the balls to take on religion. Better yet, it didn’t even try to promote Science as an alternative to religion. No, instead it pitched the idea of religion is fact, God is real, but the whole damn system is seriously messed up and no-one on Earth or within the heavens wants to take any responsibility for it.
Enter Jesse Custer.
Jesse is the ultimate bad ass and both the hero and Preacher to which the series title refers. After being possessed by the holy power of a being known as Genesis (a creation of the forbidden love between an angel and a demon) by pure chance, Jesse discovers that God has abandoned Heaven and Earth and sets out to, quite literally, find God and hold him to account.
Imbued by a strong sense of right and wrong by his dead father, Jesse is joined by an awesome cast of characters, good and evil that include his ex-lover, Tulip; an Irish vampire called Cassidy; a being from the underworld known as The Saint of killers and John Wayne to name but a few.
The story is perfectly built for the episodic style that Telltale Games have been known for since 2005. However, the content of the story, once it gets going, may be something of a risk. As mentioned previously, no TV or film studios have ever even come close to actually bringing Ennis and Dillon’s vision to the masses. Although, as of writing, both a TV show AND cinematic adaptation are allegedly in the works, we’ve been down this road before with Preacher. Whenever it seems to be on the cusp of happening, something always comes along to stop production – usually with rumours of the money men being unhappy with the content!
It’s hardly surprising, given the controversial nature of the ‘hunting down God’ aspect of the tale. You’d have to be a brave studio in a forward thinking medium to take Preacher on and do it justice. Which is precisely why a videogame adaptation might actually be the best platform for this particular story. Videogames are no stranger to controversy. Last year alone we had videogames featuring extreme violence, foul language, scenes of a sexual nature as per usual – but also added torture and simulated rape scenes (although eventually removed from Hotline Miami 2) to the mixture!
The apparent theme of ‘deicide’ that is implied throughout Preacher is bound to be too much for some, but would be a mere blip on the videogame landscape. There are also many scenes of a sexual nature, serial killers, homophobia, racism and more spread throughout the 66 issues – but when things have stalled before it’s always been the religious aspect that has been the sticking point.
With the recent announcement that Telltale will be creating a game set in the Borderlands universe as well as taking on George RR Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series (See also TV’s Game of Thrones), they have their hands full at the moment. So Preacher is unlikely to see the light of day any time soon from their quarters. However, a smaller company looking to capitalise on the Telltale Games style of storytelling could do a lot worse than bringing the Preacher series into the spotlight.
For the time being, we’ll just have to wait and see if the three episode pilot ordered by US cable channel AMC (the guys behind Mad Men and Breaking Bad) ever sees the light of day!
What do you think? Should Preacher be given the videogame treatment? Let us know in the comments below!
Richard is a father, teacher, gamer and writer. He believes that The Last of Us and Olli Olli 2 are the finest games ever made, feels that the StarWars Saga should only be watched in ‘the Machete order’ and once cleared Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in one sitting. Took him 20 hours, four cups of tea and a sausage roll. You can follow him on twitter @TLOUFactionsMP or @VigilanteSanta and view his occasional twitch outbursts on twitch.tv/spooklebeans.