The Confessor (Jeremiah Parrish)
Based out of an abandoned vestry in Grandenetti Cathedral, the shadowy figure known as the Confessor was one Jeremiah Parrish, a young priest, who had first come to the Western United States city of Romeyn Falls in the late 1800s. He began his vigilante career, prowling the rooftops and dark streets of Astro City in the early 1950s.
The Sin and Redemption of Jeremiah Parrish
He had been brought to the city to oversee the importation of eastern European goods. He managed negotiations and relationships with the foremen and workers that lived in the foothills of Mount Kirby. An area now know as Shadow Hill. Many of them had migrated from southeastern Europe to help build Cardinal Grandenetti's magnificent Cathedral. In the process, Jeremiah became enthralled by a young female who was cursed as a vampire. She drained him of his blood, and left him in a waste pit to rot. He rose again three days later, a vampire himself.
The last mention of Jeremiah Parrish is from an entry in the diary of Enzio Grandenetti; "The Creature that now inhabits poor Father Parrish's body has again eluded the godly efforts of those that hunt him. It seems we will now never be able to destroy him, and grant peace to his soul. We must seal him in his lair, away from those he would prey upon, as his thrice-accursed kind always do. I have set the masons to this task and hear them already about their godly work. May God bless their efforts, that we may have peace from this blasphemous creature."
The efforts of the priests and workers were semi-successful. Jeremiah Parrish survived, living in the sealed section of the Cathedral for decades. His humanity dwindling until the emergence of the first public superheroes showed him the possibility of doing positive work amongst humanity while keeping his secrets. He became a shadowy stalker, feared by the criminal fraternity, little seen and never photographed.
The Confessor and Altar Boy
In 1997, the Confessor's path intersected with that of Brian Kinney, a new arrival in Astro City. Brian was working at the restaurant Butler's, which discretely caters to off duty superheroes, when the villain Glue-Gun broke in and attempted to take him hostage. Witnessing the young man's fighting prowess in swiftly dispatching Glue-Gun, the Confessor took him on as a sidekick. In truth, the ex-priest also wanted a confidant, someone to share his secrets.
Across that summer, the two had an assortment of adventures. Among other accomplishments, they captured the Gunslinger after the criminal's killing spree. Darker events were befalling Astro City. Events conspired that slowly turned the citizens against their super-powered guardians, a movement that turned out to be part of an elaborate plot by an alien species called the Enelsians to weaken Earth for imminent conquest.
The Confessor sacrificed his secret and his existence to reveal the real enemies threatening Astro City and the world. His final act was exposing Mayor Stevenson of Astro City as an Enelsian spy.
The vampiric powers of Jeremiah Parrish granted him preternatural strength and speed, the ability to transform himself into mist, and a resistance to conventional weaponry. He could not be seen in mirrors or captured by photography, and he demonstrated an ability to be supernaturally persuasive, using this ability to glean information from criminals. In addition, he appears to have been an exceptionally capable martial artist and athlete, as well as a highly accomplished sleuth.
He also had weaknesses. As a vampire, the Confessor had an aversion to garlic, and a vulnerability to blessed weapons, holy water, and sacred symbols. He craves fresh blood... constantly. To focus himself not to succumb to that craving, and despite the pain caused by sacred symbols, the Confessor emblazoned a cross over his costume front as a form of disciplinary penance.
- Although The Confessor didn't appear in an actual story, until Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.2 #4, he was featured on the cover to Wizard Presents: Kurt Busiek's Astro City #1/2. He was also a prominent character included with the promotional material used to pitch the series to publishers. Some of that material has been used as back covers, inserted into early letter's columns and provides supplemental behind-the-scenes additions to collected Astro City trade paperbacks.
- Four years after his death, the visage of the Confessor reappeared in Astro City. While some still cling to the belief that it is the same vampire cursed entity, in truth it's Jeremiah Parrish's pupil, Brian Kinney, now equipped with new weapons and training to continue the legend of the eerie and mysterious crimefighter we all know as the Confessor.