CREATED BY: GARTH ENNIS & STEVE DILLON
CASSIDY – FIRST APPEARANCE: PREACHER #1 (1985)
This week on The Heroes, Villains and Sidekicks Show I’ll be covering the drunken past of one of my favorite characters in DC Vertigo’s amazing series Preacher. And it’s a fairly long history since this character is about 119 years old and is an immortal vampire who like to wear his sunglasses at night and in the daytime for that matter. Today I’ll be talking about Cassidy, the vampire that has more of a taste for booze than blood.
The character of Cassidy was created by the amazing writer Garth Ennis and the late great artist, Steve Dillon back in 1985 and first appeared in Preacher #1 published by DC’s Vertigo imprint. And as I said in the show’s intro, Cassidy is a vampire that has spent some time on the earth after his transformation, but as you’ll learn, he hasn’t really learned a whole lot. He’s really a bit of selfish ahole that in his time has destroyed lives and left a wake of misery in his path. Once we finally get some background on Cassidy one character really sums him up, he says, “I honestly don’t believe he’s an evil man. Just careless. And thoughtless. And terribly, terribly weak.” And I have to agree, that really sums the character up.
Like you all know, or are now just about to find out if you just started listening to the show, I have been reading comics since I was 12, love them, and Preacher ranks in my top 5 of all comic series I’ve ever read. I love this title. It came out in the golden age of Vertigo and had two of the most talented creators in comics working on it. This is also why I’m going to do a few shows on some of the other characters from Preacher such as Tulip, ArseFace, Saint of Killer and of course Jesse.
So before I start in on Cassidy, I should probably give you a little information about the plot of the comic so some stuff I cover later on makes sense. Preacher, in short, is about a small town preacher with a past who through no fault of his own becomes the host of a celestial being known as Genesis. Now Genesis is something completely new, it’s the child born from the union of an angel and a demon. This union gives Jesse the “Word of God” and when his channels the power of Genesis and tells someone to do something. They do it. Period. So, “go jump in a lake”, you jump in a lake. Jesse, Cassidy and his girlfriend Tulip, who is awesome all meet up and start trying to figure out what this thing is and why people are trying to get it out of him. One group on earth in particular, The Grail, think they can use Jesse to be the new Messiah. They are pretty much a paramilitary group that will do anything and kill anyone to have their way. The group are also set upon by all different types of baddies from angels to assassins sent from God himself. All wanting Jesse either dead, or to use him as a puppet. And that’s Preacher in a nutshell.
So now on to Cassidy. Cassidy’s full name is Proinsias Cassidy and, I’m sure I butcher his first name, but for the show I’ll for the good of us all will just be referring to him as Cassidy. So Cassidy was born in Ireland around 1900 and we first meet him as he is joining the Irish Volunteers to take arms against the British and even takes part in the Easter Rising that only lasted 6 days and the Irish were defeated by the much stronger British troops. Now Cassidy’s brother Billy also joins the volunteers to watch over his brother but during the uprising Billy here’s their leaders pretty much saying it’s all a lost cause but let’s just sacrifice all the men so the word gets out. Billy realizes the men he is fighting for are without honor and are willing to just let them all die so he gets Cassidy and tells him they need to desert, to run. So they escape and along the way they talk and Cassidy learns the mission is a load of crap, that hell, even his parents are don’t care, one is a catholic the other protestant. In this exchange Cassidy is quite and Billy turns to see Cassidy sitting by the edge of a pond with an old “hag” as they describe her, biting Cassidy’s neck, blood spurting from his artery.
This happens on the 27th of April 1916 as told by Cassidy when he is telling Jesse how he was turned into a vampire. Billy shoots the old woman in the head, although technically this does not kill her, but we never see her again. Because the vampires in this comic are very hardy but we’ll get into that later. So Cassidy falls into the water with the hag and Billy, thinking his brother is dead, runs off, and that is the last time Cassidy sees him. He then tries to leave the water when he wakes up the next day and when he leaves the water he bursts into flames and jumps back into the water. Now we get a sense of how dim Cassidy was when he was young, he actually tries to get out of the water in the daylight 4 more times until he realizes he needs to try it at night. That works like a charm and when he gets out he is crazy hungry so he tries to drink or eat a sheep, but the shepherd thinks he’s trying to have relations with it and shoots him point blank in the chest. Now of course he’s fine, jumps up and runs away. It’s them he realizes he has changed and isn’t human anymore. He’s super strong, burns up in the sunlight, and hungers for blood, he’s a vampire.
After getting back to town he stops into his local but is recognized. He realizes he needs to leave, he doesn’t want his family to know what he’s become, so he hops a ship and heads to America. Cassidy like any other immigrant coming to the new world was in awe of the Statue of Liberty and the size of the city and how many people there were. But right off the bat, when he got off the boat, he was robbed of his belongings. So he found a bar called McSorley’s Old Ale House and saw there was an arm wrestling going on in the back and figured with his vampire strength he could cream up. He of course wins handily and ends up taking the name of the guy he just beat, getting rid of the name he has disliked for quite some time. It’s then he takes the name Cassidy. There he also meets a man named MacCann and they become friends. So Cassidy just hung around and drank with MacCann and his crew for years, but soon he began to realize they were aging and he was not. Now MacCann wasn’t stupid and at one point he even gave Cassidy a copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with a wink and a nod. But Cassidy knew it was time to leave so he lit out.
This is where things really start to go downhill from Cassidy. Now being superhuman he is a bit reckless. If he can survive anything, be really starts to take everything up a notch in how reckless he is with his body and all this takes its toll on him and anyone around him. Cassidy, always a drinker, upgrades his vices to drugs his favorite of which is heroin. Picture a heroin addict and the wake of destruction that usually follows them, now picture the same addiction and self-destructiveness in someone who can’t die. Unfortunately that cannot be said for the women in his life that he uses and many if most do not live long and those that do are broken and ruined. Cassidy even breaks a woman’s jaw he is using. It’s pretty disgusting and reading that and another issue where we learn about who he really is is tough. He’s really a piece of garbage and now we know it. It get so bad at one point Cassidy is skeletal eating rats. Like all addicts he cleans up falls off the wagon and starts all over again. He then goes back to McSorley’s Old Ale House and sees MacCann, who is an old man. Seeing his friend, old and near death, makes him realize the weight of his immortality and he leaves the big apple and heads south.
Now we learn all this in a couple different places in the comic. We get Cassidy’s origin in issue #26 of Preacher as he recounts it to Jesse, they are still friends at this point and things between them haven’t gone to pot yet. It isn’t until issue #57 that we learn what a piece of trash he was when Jesse comes into contact with a woman from Cassidy’s past who is now a homeless person. She recounts the stories of his abuse, weakness and drug abuse that ruined her life and countless others.
But before Jesse knew about Cassidy’s past they were close after all the adventures that they had together fighting the Grail and all the other insane situations that they got pulled into. In the end, when Jesse confronted Cassidy he said they were going to settle things once and for all and have it out. When they did fight Jesse kicked his butt even with his super strength, but in the end Cassidy sucker punched him and knocked him away. Cassidy realised he could never make things right, but realized that if someone like jesse could have ever been his friend he must has some saving grace. He then spread his arms and welcomed the sunrise and burst into flames. It was then that the Grail delivered the final blow and shot Jesse in the head, killing him. The end…just kidding. See Cassidy made a little deal with God and worked things out for everyone. Now things didn’t end exactly like Cassidy had worked out with God, things went very, very wrong, but God stuck to the deal anyway. And what was the deal, it was a pretty sweet one for all actually. Cassidy told God he could get Genesys out of Jesse but in the end, no matter what, Jesse lives, and, so does he. Yep, in the end Jesse is alive and well, free from Genesys and surprise, surprise, so is Cassidy! He’s human again and ready to start over, hopefully having learned what it’s like to be an adult and not a totally selfish, as he would say it arsehole.
Well I want to thank you for listening to the show this week. Don’t forget to check out the other episodes on characters from Preacher either by subscribing or checking out the site. Lots of cool pics on the site. Head over to the site and check out the post for this show on the episodes page to take a look at all the images and pages I’ve added. There you can listen to the show, but better yet head over to iTunes and subscribe and leave a review. I know people are listening out there, so if you have a minute whether you subscribe via iTunes or not, head over there and leave us a review. The more reviews we have the higher the show moves up the ranks in iTunes which helps people learn about the show.
If you have an idea about a character you’d like to learn about just head over to the website, heroesvillainsandsidekicks.com, there you can leave a message by clicking on the microphone at the top of the page. I’d love to hear from you, and if you leave a message, I’ll add it to the show. So the first one voice message I get this week, will be highlighted on the saw next week!