This break in the main plot of the series collects together three short stories, asides from the core tale of Jesse Custer. The first two tell the origins of two of the series’ secondary characters – the Saint of Killers and Arseface. The third is a day or two in the lives of TC and Jody, the evil henchmen of Custer’s grandmother, who we first met in Until the End of the World.
The best of the three is probably the story of the Saint, as we’re shown how a brief encounter with human kindness can turn a bad man good, then pull him way back over the brink again when it’s taken away. Arseface’s origins tell us how he came by his distinctive features and positive mental attitude, despite a vicious father with a tendency not to spare the rod. Last up is a bizarre tale in which Ennis evidently enjoys two of his nastier creations, planting them at the heart of a Die Hard meets Deliverance storyline.
The biggest disappointment is probably the absence of Steve Dillon’s artwork. These stand-ins do a fair job, but for us, one of the things that make the series is Dillon’s unique style and it’s sorely missed.
None of the stories are essential reading, though a lot of background is fleshed out and fans of the series will enjoy the extra dimensions added to the Saint and Arseface. It’s a pleasant enough break from the series but, if you’re desperate to keep up with the further adventures of Jesse Custer, you can always come back to this later.