Just A Pilgrim (series 1)
by Garth Ennis & Carlos Ezquerra
Even if Ennis wasn’t a great writer, he demands attention for having written Preacher and Hitman, among many others. So, the chance of seeing him let loose on his own creation seemed like an obvious choice, and it had the pleasing art of Ezquerra, with his Spanish brand of futurism and grime I’d come to love from reading 2000AD in my formative comic book years. However, the five issues of this story never quite hit the same high marks of previous Ennis work.
‘Eight years after the burn.’ That’s a good line, and gives you all you need to know; a post-apocalyptic world in five words. But then, a boy runs out into the middle of a firefight to look for his diary – how implausible is that?
The Pilgrim is a nice design, mixing a simple approach with a hint of superhero motif, with the cross over the eye, the large coat and hat of the cowboy (to which Ennis admits), and the Bible angle allows for an unusual approach (after shooting an annoying, yappy dog for no reason, he explains: ‘Devil got into him.’)
However, the story of a group of people heading out to a promised land with the Pilgrim as a guide seems like a mix of western and a leftover Judge Dredd story where he wanders out to Cursed Earth. Castenado might have sounded funny in Ennis’s head, but is just the wrong side of silly for the story, especially when mixed with the unpleasantness of some of the deaths.
Ezquerra is his reliable self, bringing his Dredd licks to the US market, and he draws a good weirdo. Ennis can tell a story, but this one doesn’t hold much to it. The cannibalism/soldier/finding Jesus seems to be stretching in order to justify this thin piece of silliness. A down-ending leaves you with a feeling of, ‘So what?’, which is not the emotion I want to have after reading my comics. I mean, not all stories should have a point, but there should be some reason for reading it in the first place, other than for Ennis to use an idea he had of mixing Pale Rider, Mad Max and Judge Dredd (as he talks about in the letter column). Perhaps I was expecting too much, because I know he can do better.