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Just a Pilgrim

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Justapilgrim

Just a Pilgrim (2001), cover art by Mark Teixera

Just a Pilgrim is a futuristic western series written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, and published by Black Bull in the USA. The first five issue series was published in 2001, and was followed by a four issue follow-up, Just a Pilgrim: Garden of Eden in 2002.

The series is set in the future, when the Sun has experienced coronal expansion (referred to as "The Burn") to the point where the Earth was scorched and the oceans evaporated, and only a few pockets of humanity have survived. The series is narrated by Billy Shepard, a child who is with a refugee group attempting to cross the now empty Atlantic Basin, in hopes of finding sources of water on the other side. The title character, known simply as Pilgrim, is an ex-Green Beret who, before the Burn, was imprisoned after resorting to cannibalism when he had his comrades were left adrift in a lifeboat, and continuing the practice after he was rescued. Having found God in prison, he escaped after the Burn and burned a cross on his face.

The first series begins some years later, when Pilgrim encounters the group of refugees and offers to show them the way. He helps defend them from a group of pirates who attack them during their trek. The Pirates are led by a man with no eyes, two hooks for hands and two peg legs. Pilgrim befriends Billy Shepard, a young boy who keeps a diary and sticks up for him. Most of the refugees do not trust Pilgrim, as their numbers keep dwindling and, according to a few, his stories do not make sense. Eventually, Pilgrim leads them in a climactic battle, which annihilates both the refugees and the pirates, and leaves Pilgrim the only survivor. This is exactly what some of the refugees had believed would happen.

In the sequel, Garden of Eden, Pilgrim comes across an oasis of sorts in a deep oceanic trench, where there is still plant life, and what may be the last remnants of humanity. The people are mainly scientists who have been building a space shuttle that is near completion which may be able to take them off planet to some more hospitable world. Pilgrim requests that they take the Bible with them when they leave. The group is threatened by the onslaught of sliders, mutated jellyfish which can possess the bodies of other organisms. Pilgrim assists the scientists in warning them off. Eventually, the sliders gain an upper hand, and raid the sanctuary. Almost everyone is killed. The shuttle is launched at the last minute, with only two survivors among the scientists (a male and a female), on board. Defending their escape, with an enemy's fingers literally in his eye, Pilgrim changes his mind and tells the woman to throw away the Bible, having had lost faith due to the deaths of so many innocent people. Pilgrim manages to ensure that the journal of Billy Shepard is taken instead. The shuttle launches, the two survivors are safe with their genetic samples and the fate of Pilgrim is unknown.

Both series have been collected as graphic novels, in 2001 and 2003.

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