The 25 Comic Books You Need To Read Before You Die

5. Preacher (DC/Vertigo)

Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Steve Dillon

Vertigo has been responsible for some of the most creatively daring comics to ever hit the mainstream. None of them, however, come close to being as blasphemous and dangerous as Garth Ennis’ Preacher.

Ennis' landmark title focused on a preacher, named Jesse Custer, from the small Texas town Annville. In the opening storyline, Custer gets possessed by a creature known as Genesis, who, in the process, kills everyone in his congregation and bestows unnatural powers upon him. Genesis is the result of an affair between an angel and a demon, and when the it possesses Custer, it gives him abilities that rival God’s own.

Custer then goes out on a journey to find God, who fled heaven after the birth of Genesis. He 's joined by his ex-girlfriend, and professional assassin, Tulip O’Hare, and a drunken Irish vampire named Cassidy. Together they bring a sacrilegious glee to the entire series. Over its 66-issue run, Ennis also introduced a bizarre array of supporting characters like Arseface, Jesus DeSade, and Custer’s own psychotic grandmother, Marie L’Angelle, who's guaranteed to make you sick to your stomach.

This is a brutal comic that mixes sex, violence, and social commentary into a package that's wholly original and subversive. We honestly can’t imagine anything like this ever hitting the shelves again, considering how corporate-friendly most comic book publishers have become.

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