REVIEW: Johnny Red #1

WRITER: Garth Ennis
ARTIST: Keith Burns
Publisher: Titan Comics

Over here in the UK, we have two distinct home-grown styles of comic books; 2000AD and Commando.  It’s the latter’s whose memory is invoked by this new book from Titan Comics.

For those who are not familiar with Commando, the pocket-sized books, with a high page count, featured stories, predominately from either of the World Wars.  There is no over reaching arc, with most of the issues being single stories.

Garth Ennis is the writer of this tale of a beat up hurricane fighter plane, with “bullet holes that have bullet holes.”  In the effort to restore the plane to its former glories we start to get the story of its pilot, Johnny Red.  Now I am a fan of Ennis work.  His bibliography is impressive, working for different publishers, on different styles of books.  Through his previous work, I don’t think I have seen as much exposition used.  The book features characters having long conversations, the verbosity meaning that panels feature large word balloons.

Former collaborator, Keith Burns, is on art duties and is a perfect fit for this book.  Burns is a member of GAVA (Guild of Aviation Artists) the premier society for the promotion of aviator art and his attention to details shows how great an artist he is.  But the planes are not the only good thing about Burns art.  The characters themselves, although a little stereotypical in appearance, are drawn in an uneven manner, though that could be the inking style that allows for rougher edges.  Jason Woods is on color and he takes a somewhat odd approach in places, with the planes and hangar scenes in a sepia type of effect and character in more bold colors.  I understand that Woods may want to show things as aged, but the outcome can be a little jarring.

Honestly, I have never been a big fan of the Commando series, but it  easy to see the quality of the art in this book.  I am a little disappointed in the writing, having high expectations for anything that Ennis writes.  Still, this is only the first issue, so things may speed up.  Titan Comics are trying hard to make an impact in the comic book market, with quality books such as Scarlett Couture and the recent Assassin’s Creed licensed book; Johnny Red can only add to their diverse product range.


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