Genndy Tartakovsky (whose Dexter’s Lab, Samurai Jack, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars were all wildly successful animated series) is one of the few “name” animators working today – which is why it’s so sad that his awesome new series Sym-Bionic Titan will likely not be renewed for a second season.

Still, it’s nice to see Tartakovsky getting work in other avenues. To promote the upcoming film Priest, directed by Scott Stewart (Legion) and starring Paul Bettany (Legion), Genndy Tartakovsky was hired to create an animated prologue for the film.

This reminds me of various online comic strips as produced by Penny-Arcade creators Gabe and Tycho to promote a number of video games, such as Dragon Age 2, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout 3, etc. It’s a cool idea, in my humble opinion – hiring extremely talented artists to create somewhat throwaway side or back-stories for… well, just because.

Check out the short but sweet animated prologue below:

Stylistically, the prologue has the kinetic hallmarks of a Genndy Tartakovsky cartoon-meets the gray, gritty, and stocky aesthetic of a Frank Miller comic book – The Dark Knight Returns, for example.

This isn’t the first time Tartakovsky has taken inspiration from Miller. In fact, Samurai Jack was heavily influenced by Miller’s 1983-84 limited series Ronin, which, like Jack, was about a samurai from feudal Japan being transported to the future to fight an evil demon. (Frankly, I prefer Samurai Jack.)

Check out stills from the prologue below:

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the actual Priest film. There are moments, from the trailers, when I think it could be good, cheesy fun. Ridiculous and over-the-top, to be sure, but purposefully so and in an ultimately pleasing fashion. But then, I sort of thought the same about the much-maligned Legion – same director, same star – before I actually saw it.

What do you think? Does Priest look right up your alley, and does this animated prologue entice you to watch it all the more? Or do the Matrix-esque fight scenes — chock-full of spinning around in the air and slow-motion flying objects — look derivative to the point of being dull?

Priest, which has been described as a “western vampire” film, stars Paul Bettany, Maggie Q (Nikita), Lily Collins (The Brothers Grimm: Snow White), Karl Urban (Red), and Stephen Moyer (True Blood), hits theaters May 13th, 2011.