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Just A Pilgrim

Posted: Tuesday, December 11
By: Craig Lemon
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Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra

Publisher: Black Bull/Titan Books (ISBN 1-84023-377-X)

Plot:
It's eight years after the Burn - when the Sun began to die by swelling up and vaporizing Mercury and Venus, and boiling the Earth's oceans dry. The Earth is now a desolate wasteland, ruled by pirates (called buckers) who terrorise and murder the remaining pockets of humanity. Throw into the mix a number of hideously mutated monsters, and a vicious but mysterious killer called "The Pilgrim", and you have Ennis's latest collection.

Comments:
At first glance it looks like this book could never work. It's a hodge-podge of the Saint of Killers from Preacher, the Cursed Earth from Judge Dredd, and Mad Max III, all wrapped up in a vaguely western theme. Throw a storyline that brings to mind frontier-people being besieged by native american indians at every turn (except these indian-equivalents have all the hardware), topped off with a rerun of The Alamo, and it almost seems like a recipe for disaster.

Almost.

The book kicks into gear with extreme action - showing a ragged group of survivors being massacred by the buckers, and the Pilgrim pops up from nowhere and kicks arse big-time. It's Judge Dredd as The Dead Man, you think, leading the refugees to safety, fighting against the odds until he overcomes all adversity.

You think so, right up until you actually find out the true history of the Pilgrim, and why and how he suddenly turned to God for the answers...and then it seems that maybe this book won't play out as you think, that maybe things can start to go wrong...a few more heroic acts calm your nerves, but there's one or two incidents here and there that raise your suspicions once more...

...until the denouement, and you find out what the Pilgrim has been up to all along, and...well, I won't spoil it for you, just say that the ending sequence is the one of the least predictable that Ennis has ever written.

What could've been simply another run-of-the-mill apocalyptic survival tale is turned on its head, with the clues dotted liberally around (similarly to watching Unbreakable or The Sixth Sense, this book rewards an immediate re-reading). As a self-contained read, this is excellence - the only downside is my ambivalence towards Ezquerra's art. I'm afraid that it has never really done much for me, I find too many of his characters look alike, and also look the same as characters in other stories he has drawn, and this distracts somewhat from my reading experience, hence the docked bullet.

Covers and pin-ups from the original five-part series are included, one particular gem is Bill Sienkiewicz's cover to issue #4 - it's an absolute barn-stormer of a piece - and you get a nice introduction by Mark Waid, revealing how jealous he is of Garth E.

Final Word:
A great book - give it an extra BULLET if you're a fan of Ezquerra's art, but get it on your pick list right now.


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