Just A Pilgrim was a short five issue comic book miniseries produced by Black Bull Entertainment. It was written by Garth Ennis, with the art provided by Carlos Ezquerra. It was published in five monthly installments from March to July of 2001. It is a very good example of some of the more adult-oriented comic book series written in recent years and is well worth a casual read.
The story focuses around a character called the Pilgrim, a mysterious undead fellow who wanders the wastelands, quoting the Bible and claiming to do the work of God. The story is set in the future, when our sun has transformed into a red giant, turning Earth into a desert wasteland. A group of travelers in search of water are beset by water pirates, and in their darkest moment the Pilgrim shows up to save them.
The villain is Castenado, leader of a group of people who enjoy murder and carnage for the sake of, well, murder and carnage and an all-around unsavory character himself. He's extremely violent and demonstrates time and time again the willingness to kill for a mere drop of water. His stronghold, called the Titanic, is the world's largest refuge of fresh water, and somehow the Pilgrim knows of this refuge. He leads the travellers to the Titanic and chaos ensues.
This comic is quite violent, has some excellent dialogue, and some oddly disturbing sexual undertones (sexual innuendo mixed with a rotting zombie, for instance). The story itself seems too compressed into the five issues; as a result, the ending is almost a foregone conclusion by the time you read it. It does, of course, leave the door wide open for future issues dealing with the Pilgrim character.
Where Just A Pilgrim really shines, and why it is noteworthy, is in the artwork. The entire palette is full of burnt orange and yellow, casting a wonderful visual post-apocalyptic feel across the book. The Pilgrim himself (or is it itself?) looks as though he is literally rotting as time goes on, and he is drawn so well that you almost share in the revulsion that the travelers feel towards him and his appearance. Ezquerra definitely has a gift for dramatic art and it is continually displayed throughout this mini-series.
The story raises a lot of pseudo-religious questions, especially pertaining to Christianity. What form would an angel actually take, and would an angel actually do the things that the Pilgrim did? More interesting than that is the backstory of the Pilgrim, which is vaguely hinted at but never really revealed: after reading the books, the Pilgrim becomes a very interesting, multidimensional character that you would expect from a top-quality comic book.
Another interesting aspect, well executed in this series, is the use of symbolism, both visually and in the dialogue, and both religious and otherwise. Like the better examples of any art form, there is a lot more here than initially meets the eye, and it bears some digging around, re-reading, and contemplation. It is much more interesting and thought-provoking than many people give comic books credit for being.
The combination of well executed adult oriented writing and art make this a very interesting mini-series. With only five issues and all of them currently in wide availability, acquiring the whole series is inexpensive and not very challenging. The five issue series should be available at a quality comic book retailer near you; it's a modern release, so the price should be very reasonable. It provides a nice introduction to many of the better adult-level comic book series drawn in modern times, most notably Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Garth Ennis's own Preacher.