Red Team – Garth Ennis

Red TeamIs this just The Boys without the Supes? That’s what you’re asking yourself isn’t it? Here is the story of an elite NYPD unit that can’t catch bad guys the legal way and so decide to bump them off instead.
This is a very mature work in the best sense of the word. Ennis like to make you think. Previously he has screamed and shouted, bombarding you with visual mayhem to try and shock you into paying attention. Now he tries a smoother approach. This is television on the page.

Red Team is that gritty, hard-boiled cop drama that started with Hill Street Blues and has been distilled into ever more sophisticated storytelling. This would absolutely work as a film or television show or maybe a novel. It’s the characters and the things they feel and say that tell the story here which can be bad news for a graphic novel.

The art is great and new face Craig Cermak brings the lush, Jacen Burrows photorealism that Ennis likes to work with. Everything is steady and traditional with all but the binocular shots having straight panels. He is careful not to overshadow the action and characterisation with gratuity but effortlessly keeps pace with the unfolding drama. The colouring is excellent and as this book cleverly makes a feature of talking heads there is some exemplary portraiture.

Each issue is narrated by a single member of the team to an unknown questioner and this device grabs and holds our attention. The dialogue is superb and within a few pages you are hooked. There is no traditional slow burn of Ennis’ earlier works and no hyperbolic action either. This is the smooth confident touch of the master writer.

You can sit back and enjoy the ride or you can pounce on the little clues to try and work out the ending before the last page. Either way you are in for a very rewarding, and uncharacteristic, work from one of our finest writers.

Double Thumbs Up!

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