Despite these three issues not all operating under the same storyarc title, they nonetheless comprise one story. The First of the Fallen is plotting his revenge on John and wants to use Ellie, a demon that he knows is acquainted with John, against him. She flees and needs John's help to avoid being found. It's not apparent right away why she would want to avoid being part of the First of the Fallen's plans. We'd seen Ellie before, during "Dangerous Habits," so her being a friend/ally of John's has been established. We learn how they're acquainted in the second part of "Guys and Dolls" where it's revealed that, in 1984, she and an angel came to him to deliver their baby. This is an idea Ennis would reuse in Preacher and had some convinced that that meant that it was a shared universe thing.
This three-issue story is less about what happens than how it does. John delivering the baby of an angel and demon that came together in a moment of lust and, now, realise that they're fucked. He does it so he's owed a favour by the two -- as being owed favours by an angel and a demon is never a bad thing. The angel is killed by his own, though, when they discover what he's done. But, Ellie is never discovered, which is why she flees the First of the Fallen. As a result, she asks John to hide her, which he does by carving a masking sigil right onto her soul. It's painful for her, but necessary.
We learn a few important things in this story: Ellie owes John, the First of the Fallen was God's first creation and was cast to Hell for thinking for himself, there before even Lucifer fell, and the First of the Fallen is deadset on taking revenge against John for the way he's played him and disrespected him. It consumes him. There's even a nice scene where the First of the Fallen and another demon come looking for Ellie and John is a prick to them both, pissing off the Devil even more.
These three issues mark the last of William Simpson's tenure on the title. While I'm not a fan of his work on "Dangerous Habits," his art did grow on me over the course of his run with Ennis. He's got a good style that's very evocative. I won't exactly miss him since his replacement is Mr. Steve Dillon, but I did learn to enjoy his work.
Bloodlines was an interesting trade since it filled in the gap between Dangerous Habits and Fear and Loathing since both of those were published in the '90s (because of Preacher's poularity). One thing I'm somewhat confused about is why they didn't collect #56-58, three one-off issues. #56 was collected in Rare Cuts, but that still leaves #57 and 58 uncollected. #51 makes sense since
In 30 minutes, we do the first two issues collected in Fear and Loathing, including the much-loved "Forty"...
[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]