Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Preacher takes place in a world full of wonderfully weird and horrifically damaged characters, and AMC's television adaptation has brought many of these characters to life while putting its own wicked spin on them. One of the most deranged of them all is Herr Starr, portrayed on the series by Pip Torrens.
In a story populated by fallen angels, unstoppable gunslingers, and unspeakable backwoods terrors, Starr stands out as a particularly cunning and ruthless mastermind at the head of a secret religious organization with its own global agenda, putting Starr directly on a collision course with Jesse Custer and his friends. Here's an overview of the evil tactician and what to expect from him in the fourth and final season of the Vertigo Comics adaptation.
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Herr Starr's Comic Book Origins
Klaus Starr was born to a British father and German mother, leading to classmates ostracizing him as a child due to his mixed heritage as he grew up in Germany. This culminated in five bullies using a broken glass bottle to carve a star pattern into his face, permanently blinding his right eye, with the stress from the experience causing all his hair to fall out and his voice to go hoarse from the screaming. In retaliation, Starr would hunt each of his attackers individually and murder them all while making each incident look like an accident; Starr would complete his vengeance before he reached the age of ten.
After rising through the ranks of the German antiterrorism unit GSG 9, Starr was recruited by powerful, clandestine religious organization the Grail. In this secret group, Starr attained the rank of Sacred Executioner and trained every single soldier in the organization directly under his command, answering only to its high priest All-Father D'Aronique. Disillusioned by the organization following an inbred descendant of Jesus Christ, Starr begins plotting against his superior and believes he encounters the perfect opportunity for his coup, when he learns of Jesse Custer and his mysterious ability to channel the Power of Genesis.
Herr Starr The Television Star
After a brief cameo in Season 1, Herr Starr makes his full live-action debut in the AMC adaptation's second season. Initially uninterested in Jesse Custer, the television incarnation of Starr starts to take notice of the Texan reverend after he dispatches an entire squad of Grail operatives and learns of his mission to find God. After Jesse uses his powers to discover Starr's true agenda and the background of the Grail, Starr attempts to convince Jesse to fill the void left in God's absence before coercing Jesse into the role by revealing he has a fragment of his soul.
Starr orchestrates a viral video of Jesse revealing himself as the new Messiah but is superseded by All-Father D'Aronique, who intends to introduce the world to Humperdoo, Christ's inbred descendant, despite Starr's deep misgivings. Starr plots to prepare the world for a new Messiah by triggering a nuclear apocalypse and kidnaps Jesse to transfer the Power of Genesis into a clone of Humperdoo. After reclaiming the Power of Genesis and his soul by killing the All-Father, Jesse beats Starr into submission while using his powers to force Starr never to wear a hat covering his unsightly scar ever again.
Upon learning that his faithful associate Hoover has been transformed into a vampire by Cassidy, an enraged Starr kills Hoover and kidnaps Cassidy, sending the Irish vampire to the Grail's base in Masada to use as bait to lure Jesse into a trap so he can kill the preacher. He is thus no longer interested in drafting Jesse into the Grail's cause of complete global domination.
Herr Starr's Role in Preacher's Final Season
With Starr now in charge of the Grail, he has its vast resources and paramilitary forces directly under his command. The Sacred Executioner has an ax to grind with Jesse Custer for his repeated humiliations at the preacher's hands and he is no longer interested in enlisting him to become the world's new Messiah. Now secretly the most powerful man in the world, Starr can draw upon global governments to help him in his revenge against Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy.
For readers of the comic book series, Masada is the location of an epic showdown between Jesse, Starr and the Saint of Killers, with the latter virtually wiping out the Grail's entire military singlehandedly. While Starr would barely escape with his life and face Jesse on several instances before a final confrontation with Tulip, it is unknown if the television incarnation of the stoic villain will survive the assuredly bloody encounter with the Saint as Jesse stages his rescue of Cassidy in Masada.
Preacher stars Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga as Tulip and Joe Gilgun as Cassidy the Vampire, Pip Torrens as Herr Starr, Malcom Barrett as Hoover and Julie Anne Emery as Featherstone. The series returns for its fourth and final season on August 4.