Angelville In The ‘Preacher’ Comics Is A Nasty Place, So Get Ready For Lots Of Custer Family Drama In Season 3
In just the first two seasons of Preacher, viewers have met an Irish vampire, a meat-worshipping businessman, a boy with an "arse" for a face, an inbred Messiah, and Hitler himself — and none of that measures up to the weirdness still to come. Angelville in the Preacher comics is the location of one of the story's most important and memorable arcs; but it's also a loathsome place full of despicable characters and scenes that are hard to imagine making the jump from the page to the screen. If the source material is any indication, AMC's Preacher Season 3, premiering June 24, is going to be the wildest ride yet… and that's saying something, obviously. Spoilers for the comics ahead.
In the Vertigo comic series created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, Angelville is a plantation located in the swamps somewhere near the border of Texas and Louisiana. It is home to the L'Angelle clan, and ruled over with an iron fist by the monstrous matriarch Marie L'Angelle, who doesn't let the fact that she's confined to a wheelchair stop her from terrorizing her family, her henchmen, and anyone who crosses her path.
Marie L'Angelle isn't just a random backwoods dictator, though — she's also Jesse Custer's maternal grandmother, who grooms all her male descendants to be men of god and all her female descendants to be their brood mares. When she was young, Christine L'Angelle fled her family home and eventually met, fell in love with, and married John Custer. Eventually her past caught up with her, though; Marie's goons found John, Christine, and baby Jesse and forced them to return to Angelville.
Eventually, John Custer (now a preacher himself) attempted to escape Angelville with young Jesse… but Marie's henchmen Jody and T.C. caught up with them and murdered John, returning Jesse to Marie's clutches. Eventually, Christine was killed as well; she'd served her purpose, fathering a son, and had outlived her usefulness. Throughout his upbringing, Jesse was punished by being sealed inside an airtight coffin and sunk to the bottom of the swamp, with only a small hose to provide oxygen and keep him alive. Jesse was protected during all of these trials by the ghostly figure of John Wayne. (A hallucination of the boy's favorite movie star, or a true supernatural presence? Unclear.)
Eventually, Jesse was dispatched by Marie to serve God at a church in the small town of Annville; but when the town blew up, he didn't return to Angelville, now granted superpowers by the entity known as Genesis. But God, who wants Genesis back, appeared to Marie L'Angelle and gave her and her family immunity from Genesis so she could safely track down her errant son.
A hunted Jesse, powerless over his hated family, gave himself up and returned to Angelville with Tulip. There, Marie had Jody kill Tulip to punish her grandson. But an improvisational God changed his plans, and resurrected Tulip — and took away the L'Angelle family's Genesis immunity — on the condition that she convince Jesse to abandon his quest to find the missing deity. His power over his family restored, Jesse and Tulip escaped Angeville, burning the plantation down in the process. Marie L'Angelle was killed when her oxygen tank exploded, shooting her into the air like a rocket.
Obviously, fans shouldn't expect a beat-for-beat retelling of this story; AMC's Preacher has never been a direct adaptation of the Vertigo series, riffing on the comics' plots rather than translating them faithfully. Through flashbacks, viewers have seen that John Custer and Jesse were already living away from Angelville when their past caught up with them, with Christina already an absent figure. And Tulip has already been killed upon Jesse's arrival in Angelville, shot by Grail operative Lara Featherstone rather than by Jody.
But the tattoo on the arm of his father's murderer matches the one on Jesse's back, both of which match the symbol above the gates of Angelville — implying that this exploration of Jesse's backstory has been in the works since the very beginning of the show, even as the show diverged from its source material in some ways.
Get ready to visit the messed up world of Angelville — and meet the infamous Marie L'Angelle (played by Split's Betty Buckley) — when Preacher Season 3 kicks off on AMC this Sunday.