Titan Comics 2015
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Keith Burns
Coloured by Jason Wordie
Lettered by Rob Steen
I’ve never been one to get into war stories, my family history is one of fleeing from Nazi occupation and losing so many of great grandparents loved ones. So for me to hear the stories and see the pain i’ve steered clear of WWII stuff. Now i’m older, wiser and more interested in different points of view. Also let’s face it it’s Garth Ennis for crying out loud if anyone is going to get me into this world it’s him. Lo and behold i’m completely entranced by this story of an Englishman leading a Russian Air Squadron taking on the Germans.
So the way this story is being told is utterly amazing to me. The interview process that allows us a first hand experience at what actually happened is very well done. That the man known as Johnny Red didn’t work well with authority figures and ended up basically stealing a plane and heading to Russia explains a lot. How he was able to go there and stay instead of return to Britain well now I understand that. He’s a complicated young man a nineteen year old who just wanted to kill the Nazi’s and didn’t care how that happened. Though I have to wonder what action happened that struck such a strong urge in him to do so.
I have to say there’s really something remarkable about the work here by Keith and Jason. There are moments that are just incredible like seeing the planes in the sky and the line work with planes and the backgrounds with their more subtle colouring it all has a major impact upon the reader. Even the images we see on the ground with dead soldiers and such or the people who work on the base, the Falcon’s themselves it’s all brilliantly done.
How he gained the respect and admiration of his fellow pilots and raised them from cannon fodder to an elite force the be feared was wonderful. I can’t remember a time this much characterization has been given in such a short amount of space that was so powerful to witness and easy to follow. Garth has a knack for getting to the heart of his characters in ways others can’t fathom and it’s here that is on display beautifully. Through the dialogue and narration we see a complete picture of a man with one piece missing, what really drives him.
I like how the drama unfolds and how though he’s leader of the squadron the Russians don’t trust him and are willing to leave him behind on a very important mission. The distrust of nations against each other during wartime is palpable. The introduction and closer look at Johnny’s men and make no mistake they made him their leader not the Russian military, are an interesting lot.
I’ll keep using the word repeatedly this is interesting, fascinating and extremely well told by Garth, Keith and Jason. Less a look at war it’s more the men and women and their motivation behind doing what they do.
This a wonderful look at a character that time and people have forgotten it’s really a joy to experience him now.