REVIEW: Garth Ennis’ Red Team #1

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From Preacher to The Boys, Garth Ennis’ titles are some of the most controversial, hard hitting, in-your-face comics in the business. Still, with a name so recognizable in the industry, why is his new series called “Garth Ennis‘ Red Team”? Is it because we would not believe Garth Ennis wrote a crime comic book? Is it like in movies where it says “Quentin Tarentino Presents” or a “Spike Lee Joint” in the title? Maybe the title Red Team was trademarked. Either way, with Garth Ennis’ name attached to the title, there are bound to be violence, blood, and a ton of adult content.

Garth Ennis Red team_coverGARTH ENNIS’ RED TEAM #1
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Craig Cermak
Letterer: Rob Steen
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Editor: Joe Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Garth Ennis’ Red Team: They are the NYPD’s elite anti-narcotics unit: Eddie Mellinger, Trudy Giroux, Duke Wylie, and George Winburn. Together they are the Red Team and they’ve cleaned up the streets of New York City one drug lord at a time; save one, Clinton Days. After Clinton slips through their fingers and kills one of their own, the team decides to take drastic measures. They all agree it needs to be done, but it will lead them down a dark path with no turning back?

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

Garth Ennis’ Red Team tells the story of four narcotics cops who take the law into their own hands. Most of the comic is worded through the perspective of Eddie Mellinger, who recounts his tale from an interrogation room several months in the future. As the most reluctant of the four, Eddie Mellinger seems to be the perfect narrator; he is a sympathetic character and there is a regretful tone to his voice. One problem with the narration is a scene between NYPD Captain Delancy and Red team’s veteran Duke Wylie. Eddie is not in the room when this occurs, so he would have no idea what was said. It is inconsistent with the overall narrative and, for right now, completely unnecessary. Also, Clinton Days’s murder has less impact since his crimes are narrated and not seen. Still, the overall story is done well. Garth Ennis places a lot of enthusiasm in the subtle details leading up to Clinton Days murder, from the duct tape over the handles of Red Team’s revolvers to assigning George Winburn the job of restraining Clinton Day’s mistress because of the color of her skin. This Garth Ennis creation shares an ugly human realism similar to his other works, but not as bloody or gory.

DARK AND GRITTY, BUT SURPRISINGLY WELL DONE

Craig Cermak’s artwork complements the crime comic very well. Since Red Team takes place in New York City and revolves around the NYPD, the art needs to convey real places and real people. The people portrayed are very natural, as if you are seeing them on the street. The character designs remind me of Ex Machina, where the artist takes real people as models for his people. Cermak employs a similar approach and it works. The scenery is also easily recognizable. Duke’s backyard could be in any of the outer boroughs while the street areas depict the crowdedness of city homes.

BOTTOM LINE: NO POWERS, NO PROBLEM

Garth Ennis attempts to branch away from the usual superhero drama in comic books with Red Team. Although it does not share many of the adult themes littered in his previous works, the comic still targets a mature audience with its humanistic characterizations. With the realistic art of Craig Cermak supporting the story, Garth Ennis’ Red Team has the makings of a great crime series. If you are looking for a non-superhero comic with action, you should pick up this issue.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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