CREATED BY: Writer-Garth Ennis & Artist-Steve Dillion
LYING CAT – FIRST APPEARANCE: Preacher #13
This week on The Heroes, Villains and Sidekicks Show we’ll be learning about Herr Starr, soldier of a secretive known as The Grail who is on his own mission to find and recruit Jesse Custer to become the messiah. Oh, and the man with the worst luck in the entire comic. This man takes a beating and deserves every bit of it.
So today we look at one of my favorite characters in Preacher. This is also unfortunately the last podcast in the Preacher series. I know, there are several more characters we could talk about but I think that we covered all the biggies and ones that really matter. That being said, we will not only be talking about Herr Starr in this episode but we’ll also be learning about The Grail and a couple of Starr’s underlings. It’s actually one of these underlings that is apart of one of my favorite sub-plots of the comic, but we’ll get into that later. So let’s learn about Herr Starr and all his bad luck and unfortunate choices.
Now, I say bad luck, but I don’t believe in bad luck. No such thing. Luck, and I’m using air quotes, is a product of the accumulation of choices you make. That’s just my opinion on the subject. And so when I say Starr has some bad luck, I mean, that his choices in Preacher has lead him to have some really bad things happen to him. Does he deserve them, some, but I have to say, like Jesse, the refreshing thing about Starr is that he is who he is. He makes not qualms about it. He has a definite and rigid code and set of beliefs and or lack thereof. He does not suffer fools and will do whatever is needed to forward his goals. The goals of order, control and the elimination of chaos. Since we’ve talked a lot about Starr in all the other episodes I’ll be concentrating on his history before we even see him in Preacher. This story takes place in a great Preacher special. We will hit a few points from the comic that we haven’t talked about.
Herr Starr, first name never revealed, first appeared in issue #13 in a storyline titled, “The Hunters” of Preacher and appeared in 50 issues. Starr was a soldier first, then he was introduced to a secretive organization called The Grail whose mission was raze humanity and rebuild under the son of God, or actually a descendent of Jesus himself. But Starr became disillusioned with The Grail and decided it was broken and he needed to fix it. More on that later.
Like many of the main characters in Preacher, Herr Starr got his own one-shot back in 1998 titled “One Man’s War” written by Garth Ennis and Peter Snejbjerg and colored by Grant Goleash. And I have to say, of all the specials, this one is my favorite for a couple reasons. One, I love Snejbjerg’s art, love it. And the coloring is perfect with his style and two it’s very comprehensive. It details Starr’s life from 1974 through to when Preacher starts in the late 90’s and we even get to learn a bit about young Herr Starr and how he lost his eye. So it’s a great special and clocks in at 54 pages.
So let’s get into the special first, learn about Starr before The Grail, how he joined them and then rose through their ranks. Then we’ll look at his arc through the Preacher series along with The Grail and a couple of his close underlings.
The book opens in 1974 with Starr as a member of West German wehrmacht, as a member of an elite counter-terrorism team. Starr and his team are sent in to subdue an armed group that have hijacked a plane full of civilians. They bust in and start shooting, completely obliterating the hijackers and it’s bloody. Things went well but there was one casualty, a little girl was killed in the exchange, her face blown half off. The other men and his his superiors are pleased that they lost no men and only one passenger. But Starr felt differently. One of the men watches him cradle the girl.
Starr looks up and says, “This is not the way the world should be.” One of the men on his crew takes notice, he believes Starr to be a man of conviction and later invites Starr to join him and become a member of a secret organization that strives to better the world. The organization is called The Grail. Starr is interested and decides to see what they are all about and it’s then he meets with Eisenstein, a higher up in The Grail and Eisenstein laid out their plan. The Grail believes that the world is coming to an end, society is falling apart and we are all sinners and not worth saving. The grail however was going to put its finger on the scales and help the end of the world along a bit by detonating a nuclear bomb over Baghdad facilitating and stoking war between countries bringing the world to the edge of armageddon. Russia is obliterated by nuclear weapons and then all nuclear weapons from all the silos around the world launch, but they fail to detonate. Why? Because Christ, the son of God returns and saves mankind. How does The Grail know this, how can they count on the big man himself, he apparently lives in the Grail’s house. According to The Grail, Christ did not die on the cross but was drugged by The Grail, taken down by them and spirited away to live out his life under the protection of The Grail. Now to make sure that the “power” of Christ didn’t get diluted, to keep the bloodline pure he was bred in his own bloodline. More on that in a minute.
Starr was given his first mission by Eisenstein. He was to silence a Grail defector who, when he told his story, was promptly thrown into an insane asylum, but there were a couple of reporters that were starting to listen to his ramblings and taking them serious. Starr’s mission was to silence the defector without raising any suspicions. He accepted, and came up with a solution that The Grail was not prepared for. He blew up the entire asylum, killing everyone. When The Grail voiced their concern and surprise, Starr simply said, “How many children died at Sodom and Gomorrah?” And with that he was in.
Starr rose through the ranks and when he was deemed ready, he was granted an audience with The Grails savour, the descendant of Jesus Christ. Now remember, the descendants of Christ were bred online in their bloodline. This happened in 1980. So suffice it to say when Starr meets them they are deformed, feces-throwing imbeciles. The couple are naked, living in a hut that is inside an iron cage. Starr cannot believe what he is seeing and as Brendel, the man who recruited him tells him he needs to have faith, the male throws a handful of his own feces at them, covering them in crap. And here’s the thing, The Grail truly believes that these things are filled with the power of God and Christ and their child, when the time is right when all the nuclear weapons are launched, will manifest his powers and save the world. It’s then that you realize they are really people of faith. They are bat-crap crazy, but they have a unwavering faith in their righteous mission. And as we all know, when you think you are right and have religion on you side, you believe you have the right to do anything. And The Grail does. In 1982 Herr Starr has risen even higher in the organization and is honored with meeting who he describes as the most powerful man in the world, Allfather, leader of The Grail. Allfather is HUGE, think if Blob from the X-men books and Kingpin had a baby. He is alway shown with his eyes half closed and eating, and not neatly, he just shoves it into his mouth and food gets everywhere. It’s gross.
Allfather informs Herr Starr that he is being promoted to Sacred Executioner and will have a seat on The Grails council and sit at the right hand of the Allfather. But Allfather tells him it’s not because of his spotless record, it’s because Allfather knows he has steele. Allfather then says, “Because of a star for a Starr.” When he hears this Starr shows genuine shock. And it’s really the first time we have seen him show any emotion so we know this is something important. Allfather then recounts the story of a little boy who was neglected by his family, quite and kept to himself thinking he would be left alone. One day a gang of kids, bullies from school cornered the boy and held him down, their leader had a piece of glass and said, “ A star for a Starr” and proceed to make five cuts into stars face crossing his eye to make make a star. The boy screaming so hard that his voice became ugly and grated from that day on. The boy’s eye is damaged beyond repair and is removed. This happened when the boy was 5. But the Allfather’s story doesn’t end there, he continues the tale saying that the deaths of the children start sometime after and are staggered about about a year apart. One drowned in a river, one was crushed under a car, two brothers were burned to death when their house caught fire, the leader of the group was found dead having drunk weedkiller, his spine bent backwards so that his head touched his heels. The last one, the leader, died when the boy was 10. Allfather says, patience, resolve, skill and steel. With that he excuses Starr, who with bowed head and gritted teeth says Thank you, Allfather. Starr then is seem in the bathroom kneeling at the toilet, he raises his head with tears in his eyes and says patience, resolve, skill…and hate allfather. Now this is so cool because we learn why Starr has the scars and is missing an eye, we learn what kind of man he is and how he developed into that man. It’s just so cool. Up until hearing that I always pictured Starr as having a suave german voice, but here we learn it’s course and grating. Very neat. I love little details like that. And again, these are really the only pages you see Starr with real emotion on his face. It’s very powerful.
Time passes and in 1984 the descendants of Christ have their child and he looks like some kind of alien, bug eyed and weird looking. Like always there are images from a lot of these pages on the site so head over and check out what this baby looks like. In 1990 Starr is ready to reveal his plan to Brendal, the man in his old team, the man who brought him into The Grail. He sees that The Grail actually has a great plan to bring order to the world, but that to put that plan in the hands and to have faith that as he puts it, a monkey would be a waste. Brendal is horrified that Starr is blaspheming the son of God. Starr reveals his plan is to allow all of The Grails plans to continue, but to find another messiah, one that is not an idiot and that he will need to of course kill the child. Bredal asks is Starr has forgotten the little girl, he doesn’t but he tells Brendal that he would kill a million little girls to win the war he is in with chaos. Starr then kills Brendal.
Then, in 1994 Starr is biding his time, still disgusted at with the monkey boy The Grail believes is the messiah. The boy is now in his teens and is a completely inbred imbecile. He looks hilarious so hit the site to check it out. Starr is then given the answer to all his problems when an actual fallen angel is captured by The Grail. Yep, it’s the father of Genesis. Starr tortures him and learns all about Genesis and most importantly he learns about Jesse Custer, the man with the power and voice of God. And Starr knows he has found his messiah and his plans can move forward.
So now let’s jump into the Preacher series. Like I said, we’re really covered a lot of Starr’s adventures in the other episodes in the preacher series, so subscribe and grab those, but we never really covered all the damage and abuse Starr takes in trying to pull off his plan. So let’s just do this as bullet points:
He is raped by a male prostitute which introduces a new kink in his sexual appetites when he is with prostatitis. They need to be wearing a strap-on and servicing him.
- He has his penis and testicles bitten off by a very large dog.
- He is held captive by 3 brothers who cut off his leg and eat it.
- Tulip shoots half his ear off in a gun battle.
- Jesse cuts an “X” into Starr’s bald head. This pretty much makes him look like a large penis.
- And of course in the end Tulip blows the back of his head off.
It’s during all this that Starr’s plans start to go off the rails. Even though he kills Allfather and the monkey idiot messiah and rests control of The Grail he plans devolve into revenge against Custer after all the humiliation and mutilation he has endured.
Through all this he and his two conspirators, Featherstone and Hoover hunt Jesse. Now a little on Featherstone and Hoover. Featherstone is a small petite woman who for whatever reason is deeply in love with Starr. The feelings are not at all reciprocal. And in the end she turns on him, but is shot dead by Starr.
But it’s Hoover that has the most interesting story in the comic. I love his story, it’s one of my favorite side stories in the book. Early on Hoover comes face to face with Jesse, gun drawn. Now Hoover isn’t a bad guy, you can tell he’s really only there because he loves Featherstone who does not love him. Well Jesse is new to his powers and angry and he looks at Hoover and uses the voice and tells him to count every grain of sand on this beach. Hoover drops to his knees and gets to work as Jesse and the gang escape The Grail again. We don’t see Hoover till the end of the series. He’s haggard, drawn and huddled over a small piles of sand with a wall of stones shielding it from the wind. He then exclaims…”Two million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine…OH MY GOD! He has counted all the sand, he’s free. He then makes his way back to Feathertone and The Grail and they take him back, but hs is damaged and broken. He has been at it for years. It is just heart-breaking. He then comes face to face with Jesse again and plans to shoot him for the agony he has endured. And Jesse mans up and just says how sorry he is for what he did to him. Hoover breaks down and Jesse tells him, using the voice, to forget. Hoover then falls asleep on a park bench and when he wakes he’s happy and carefree. If only he didn’t go back to The Grail after that because he is killed by Starr at the final battle at the Alamo. He’s one character I always wished made it out alive.