Me & Joe Priest

By Greg Potter & Ron Randall (DC Comics)
ISBN: 0-930289-04-8

In the 1980s graphic novels were still an unproven quantity in America and Big Guns DC and Marvel adopted a kind of scattershot, “suck it and see” attitude to content although all parties were seemingly decided on the now extinct (more’s the pity) 8½ by 11 inch page format.

Whereas the House of Ideas had a solid publishing plan that didn’t stray far from their usual periodical product DC looked to expand or overlap markets by creating niched imprints such as the Science Fiction Graphic Novel line (adapting classic short stories and novellas into highly experimental graphic narratives) and the plain old catch-all – if unimaginative – DC Graphic Novel Series. Often there’s not much discernible difference between the two.

In the near future the human race is stricken with mass sterility and descends into slow anarchy as Man prepares to die with as little dignity and grace as possible. America quickly devolves into semi-feudal chaos with small self-sustaining enclaves – think spaghetti Western meets Mad Max. In the desolate landscape of Arizona an itinerant priest wanders about ministering to the spiritual needs of the shell-shocked populace.

But Father Joseph St. Simone is on a rather unique “Mission from God”. As well as salving souls Joe is also creating hope. As the only fertile man in the world, he’s repopulating the planet one household at a time. If only all the husbands he’s cuckolded saw it that way…

Certainly the frankly demented cult of ex-clergy called the Order of Darkness doesn’t: they have liturgical ninjas roaming the landscape with orders to shoot him on sight. Lucky then that Joe has teamed up with the violently capable army deserter known as Lummox…

Fast paced, action-packed, laconic and breezily devil-may-care in execution (you’ll either love or loathe the literal Deus ex Machina ending) this strange blend of buddy-movie, comedy thriller and road-trip adventure was a genuine attempt to offer comic-book audiences something a little different from their usual fare. Moreover considering the plot maguffin and subject matter, it’s a lot less prurient and exploitative than you’d expect. Perhaps that’s why it failed to attract a following; inadequate nudity and not enough naughty bits…

Me and Joe Priest is a strange creature. More racy Western than high-tech extravaganza, this highly readable piece of eye-candy, clearly patterned on the European bande Dessinée model, sacrifices a lot of logic in favour of set-piece theatrics – but nevertheless pulls it all off with great aplomb. In all honesty, I can’t see why I like this book… but I do.

Why don’t you see if it calls to you?
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