Writer – Garth Ennis; Artist – Keith Burns; Colorist – Jason Wordie; Letterer – Rob Steen; Published by Titan Comics.
I wasn’t planning to review the first issue of Johnny Red, but some comics you just have to write about.
I had some interest in the comic when I heard about it. I’m a fan of British comics; I have the largest collection of British comics in Kansas City (and so I’ll claim until somebody proves otherwise), and I knew a little about the character’s history. First published in the late 1970s, Johnny was an anti-hero in the weekly British war comic Battle – an accomplished British flyer with the Soviets during WWII, often distrusted as an outsider by the Russians he was fighting to protect. It’s an intriguing concept, and the series is written by one of my favorite writers – Garth Ennis – so the book piqued my curiosity and I bought it when I found it in the comic shop.
Ennis’ narrative starts in the present, with a young American billionaire investing in the restoration of a WWII Hawker Hurricane. Intrigued by the history of the British plane and its service with the Russians on the Eastern Front, the billionaire travels to Russia and meets an elderly mechanic who once worked on the plane. The mechanic tells the story of the plane’s service defending Stalingrad, and reveals that its pilot was a Englishman known as “Johnny Red.”
The mechanic’s story is brought to life in vivid detail by artist Keith Burns and colorist Jason Wordie. The comic has some of the best aerial dogfight scenes you’ll ever see, and your heart will race as you turn the pages.
Ennis and his creative partners present readers with an intriguing mystery – who is “Johnny Red” and what happened to him?
I can’t wait to find out the answers to those questions.
Also, the backmatter of the comic has some great articles on the history of the character and the use of the Hawker Hurricane on the Eastern Front.
Do yourself a favor and read this comic.