Okay, we have a new champion: I'm pretty sure that "Preacher: Gone to Texas" is the goriest comic book I've ever read.
It's well-drawn, for sure. The artist is a seriously talented guy. Those images, though... I frequently found myself cringing at particularly violent, bloody scenes. Some of the violence is nice traditional blam-blam stuff, but frequently gunshots end with the victim missing major sections of their body, which have traveled a fair distance before landing.
The characters are kind of ugly too, though I enjoyed that part. No superheroes here with improbably smooth and clean looks. Faces are haggard, wrinkled by too much exposure to the sun (or pale from too little of it); painted fingernails wrap around limp cigarettes; the woman in particular looks a bit tired, a bit desperate, and while she's way more attractive than any of the guys, she's also a far cry from the nearly-perfect female figures that often fill comic books.
The story is fairly action-heavy, but there's a really significant plot in there as well. That plot is fairly blasphemous - not as much as, say, the Golden Compass trilogy, but more so than religion in Sandman. It's an interesting idea, which builds on some more or less traditional aspects (choirs of angels, the struggle between Heaven and Hell, etc.), but plays with them in a wholly unconventional way, one that's more "Dogma" than dogma.
The surprises are nicely paced and spread out. The vampire thing was set up a bit too obviously, but it doesn't really matter. Genesis got a bit of a nice built-up before we figured out what was happening. The Saint of Killers had plenty of opportunity to become a menacing force before its climactic confrontation.
The whole Voice of God thing... on the one hand, it's really cool, such an incredibly unbalanced power that it breaks all convention. On the other hand, its mere presence kills all sort of tension from the story. Almost as soon as it's introduced, Ennis needs to start coming up with excuses for why he can't actually use it in any given situation.
There are a lot of directions that the story can take from here. Honestly, some of them were a bit too obviously laid out. "The preacher has a GRANDMOTHER! He is apparently SCARED of her! WHAT COULD THIS MEAN?!?!" I think I need to take a little while to get my stomach back under control. I won't be shocked if I continue the series, though. It's definitely not my favorite comic, but it does have a weird character to it, a kind of repulsive attractiveness. While it's not exactly my favorite thing, I have to admire the demented talent that went in to this.