Saint of Killers
CREATED BY: GARTH ENNIS & STEVE DILLON
SAINT OF KILLERS – FIRST APPEARANCE: PREACHER #1
This week on The Heroes, Villains and Sidekicks Show we’ll talking about one of the most powerful characters in DC Vertigo’s awesome comic from the 80’s Preacher, and no, I’m not talking about God or Satan, Jesse, or even Cassidy. I’m talking about The Saint of Killers. And I think that name says it all. We’ll look at his character in the Preacher comic and in the new AMC of the same name. But as always, we’ll start with the comic.
The Saint of Killers plays a huge roll in comic and appeared in 58 of the titles 66 issue run. He doesn’t say a lot but let’s his guns do his talking, and these aren’t your ordinary Walker Colts, these guns were forged from the swords of the angel of death himself. So how does an ordinary mortal go from being a soldier, cowboy and family man to one of the most powerful beings in all creation? Well, for starters, the Saint was never really an ordinary man to begin with. The bulk of his origin comes from The Saint of Killers Special. We get some from an angel we’ll talk about later, but the bulk of it is in the special. So let’s start at the beginning.
The Saint of Killers was once a man, a man who fought during the Civil War and was known for being the most ruthless killer there was. He was feared and hated by not only Union soldiers but his own side as well. This was a bad person filled with hate and death from the beginning. After the war’s end The Saint traveled the west as a bounty hunter killing and taking lives as his reputation grew as someone you did not want to mess with.
On one mission, after he killed a number of Native Americans for a bounty, he discovered there was a woman who they had just taken captive. She was very happy that The Saint had saved her but he said it was nothing, he wasn’t there to save her, it was just an accident that he was there. That he was just there to collect his bounty, and with that he scalped a victim. The Saint of Killers took her back into town with him since he was going there in the first place. When they got to town the girl met with her brother and he was shocked when she told him that she wanted to be with The Saint, that she could see he was a good man and that she wanted to bring out his true self.
When she proposed this to The Saint he told her she was wrong, that he was death and if she went with him all she was know is killing. We jump forward in time and we see a nice little cabin on the prairie, then The Saint delivering their child and The Saint of Killers realized there was more to life than death and killing. He was in love, he had a family and things for the first time in his life were different. And for a time he was happy, or as happy as a man like that can be.
Then it happened, his wife and eight year old daughter got sick with fever. Medicine was a week’s ride away and even though he didn’t want to leave them they knew it was their only chance. He set out for the week’s journey when out on the scorching hot plains he was slowed down by a blizzard, yep, a blizzard in the desert. More on that later. But the blizzard didn’t stop him and The Saint made it to Ratwater where the medicine was. The blizzard did however divert some really bad men his way. Gumbo McCready and his crew of sadists landed in Ratwater and started trouble immediately. While in the Salon where he was waiting The Saint was drawn into a gunfight with one of McCready’s men, who he killed handly. The Saint left with the medicine, but on the way home he was ambushed by McCready’s men who killed his horse and beat him to within an inch of his life. Even this didn’t stop The Saint, he picked up the medicine and started walking but the trip that should have days, took weeks. And when he finally reached his home, he found his wife and child long dead being picked clean by crows.
This brings back everything that The Saint was and more. His hatred and need for revenge was off the charts and on a scale that would take him down the path to become The Saint of Killers. He travels back to Ratwater to take his revenge on McCredy and blasts his way through the salon killing all McCready’s men. McCready fearing for his life takes a hostage, and puts an innocent woman in front of himself as a hostage. But he wasn’t betting on the level of hatred in The Saint’s heart. The Saint shoots the woman, killing her, and when she fell The Saint took aim at McCready and fired. But his weapon jammed. McCready then, seeing an opening attacked The Saint with a shovel and killed him, sending The Saint to the only place he was destined for. Hell.
The Saint awoke to find his horse that had been killed weeks earlier and rode to hell followed by countless other souls destined to burn in the fires of Hell. As the passed through the gates souls were taken by demons and burned away, but when a demon laid his hands on The Saint, he recoiled. As The Saint traveled through the fires of Hell his cold heart froze the very fires of Hell. This got the attention of Satan, who, at the time was playing cards with the Angel of Death. Now the Angel of Death was complaining because he did not like his gig. In fact he hated it. But his complaining was cut short when Satan realized something was seriously wrong in Hell. When Satan found The Saint he grabbed him and told him to stop what he was doing, to get rid of his hate so that Hell could be restored. The Saint asked him who was asking. This pissed Satan off and he began torturing The Saint, pretty much whipping the flesh from his body. The Angel of death arrives and it’s then that The Saint tells Satan he has unfinished business and only wants to kill and have his revenge.
The Angel of Death hears this and sees an opportunity and he asks the Saint if he would want to take over his job leave Hell and take his revenge. Once he takes over the job The Saint can go get his revenge, but then he must go to a cavern in Boot Hill and sleep, and while is body is asleep his shadow will travel the Earth collecting souls that were done in by violence. The Saint agrees and the process begins. Now he is ripped apart from being tortured so Satan rebuilds his body as well as he can and while this is happening the Angel melts down his Angelic swords and converts them into two of the most powerful pistols in all creation. And when The Saint was leaving Hell, the fires started back up and the devil yelled, Good riddance you cold-hearted son of a bitch. The Saint turned, drew his weapon and killed Satan. The previous Angel of Death started to mouth off, The Saint cocked his gun, and the angel begged for forgiveness and was spared.
Now The Saint sets off, back to Ratwater for his revenge and when he gets there it isn’t pretty. He runs through that town, killing everyone and everything in that town. Men, women, children. If it’s alive he kills it. His hate is just too overpowering, the thing he’s become is death. He eventually finds McCready and kills him as well and then goes to Boot Hill to rest until he is needed. He’s called up a few times by God to kill. All this happens in the special, now let’s pick things up in the pages of Preacher.
Now we’ve touched on this in the previous episodes in our Preacher series. The Saint of Killers shadow looms pretty large. We talk about him in episode: Jesse Custer, 40: Cassidy:Episode 41 and Tulip Episode 42.
So we first meet The Saint of Killers when he’s being let out of his casket under Boot Hill and is given the job to track down and kill the Preacher. He then promptly shoots the angel blowing half his face off. And that is the first of I think hundreds of people that he kills through the series. And if you’ve been over to the site, heroesvillainsandsidekicks.com you can see how the late great Steve Dillon draws people getting blown away. It’s pretty gory, probably the most graphic but at the same time cartoony. So remember to head over and check it out.
The Saint then starts to track down the Preacher killing anyone that crosses his path. One of my favorite interactions between Preacher and The Saint is when they first meet. There is gunfire going everywhere and Arseface is yelling don’t kill my dad and it’s all just crazy and Jesse uses the word and says, “ENOUGH.” But The Saint has his hand on his gun and Jesse looks at him and says, “Back in the Holster, Effer.” The Saint shoots him a look and he is super pissed! And Jesse says, “Yeah, you heard right.” So the word works on The Saint, which makes sense, if the word is equal or greater than God’s it should work on The Saint. That’s one of the things that i didn’t care for in the show, when Jesse tells him to stop, he just keeps shooting and coming at them. I’m sure they’ll have some reason, but I loved that in the comic.
Now throughout the comic The Saint tracks Jesse, drawn to him, able to track him even to another country. When Jesse heads to France to confront The Grail The Saint even hops a freighter, kills the crew and heads the France. When he arrives he storms The Grail he does his usual stone faced killing spree through their men until he confronts Custer. But here’s the thing, Jesse tells The Saint that he has access to an Angel, right in the other room who can give him information on what really happened to The Saint’s family. Not beholden buy God anymore since he’s MIA The Saint can do what he wants and he let’s Custer go.
When things come to a head in the comic Jesse knows he needs some serious firepower. It’s then he and The Saint meet at Ratwater, where it all started for him. There Jesse learns just what The Saint is and cannot believe the power he has. Jesse then tells The Saint the truth, that it was God who put McCreedy in his path and caused his family to die. With that The Saint was all in, and they formed a plan. They couldn’t find God since he was shielded from them because of Genesis, but Jesse knew that in the end Genesis would be leaving him one way or another. And in the end it did, when Jesse was killed Genesis was gone and God returned to Heaven, to his throne room. But The Saint was waiting for him with his Walker Colts forged from the Angel of Death’s swords. God begged for his life, but The Saint fired, putting a bullet through his head killing God himself. He then sat on God’s throne, tipped his hat over his eyes and slept.
I’ve finally got myself caught up on the AMC show Preacher and wow, just met The Saint on screen. The casting is perfect. The Saint is portrayed by Graham McTavish and he just really nails it. Yes, The Saint isn’t much on words, that means the actor needs to really sell it with body language and presence, and McTavish pulls it off. The one thing I don’t care for, as I mentioned, is that the word doesn’t seem to work on him, and I think it should. Not just because it did in the comic, but because Genesis is equal or greater than God, so he should be able to control him. But controlling The Saint in the comic or on screen is not something that people do with a whole lot of success. Either way you, or a lot of people around your are going to have your head or large parts of your body blown away.