Red Team Vol. 1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Craig Cermak
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Rob Steen
Review by PeteR
Red Team Vol. 1 reprints issues #1 through 7 of the mini-series by writer Garth Ennis and artist Craig Cermak. The comics were originally published in 2013 and the trade paperback was released shortly after the series concluded. Why am I talking about a seven issue mini-series that came out four years ago? Simple, Dynamite has been publishing a second Red Tide series called Red Tide: Double Tap also written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Craig Cermak. This second series is nine issues long and the final issue was scheduled for release on May 23, 2017. I have not had a chance to pick it up yet but I am eagerly anticipating that concluding chapter of the second series. While I’m waiting on it, I thought I would share with you my thoughts on the first series, Red Team Vol. 1.
There are various themes I am fascinated by. One of those is when good people do bad things in the belief they are helping the bigger picture. Examples of, to use a cliché, the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. I am also fascinated with Police work. Not the bang, bang shoot them up cop shows that have the bad guy of the week put down during a single episode. I’m interested in the stories that present the protagonist with moral dilemmas about ramifications and collateral damage. Think Wiseguy with Ken Wahl. Clint Eastwood’s Magnum Force doesn’t count because the rogue cops never question their actions. Red Team Vol. explores the two universal constants: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and the law of unintended consequences.
Red Team Vol. 1 is a police story that addresses these concepts. Four New York police officers comprise a special, major crimes task force called Red Team. They are led by Sergeant Duke Wylie and Detective George Winburn. The other two members of the unit are detectives Trudy Giroux and Eddie Mellinger. These are four good cops who have just seen too much. The bad guys go free while leaving a swath of bodies in their wake. The Red Team decide to do something about this. Their methods are meticulous and they take great care in choosing their victims. Duke and his squad are very aware that the people they kill will have their murders investigated by other cops, so who they choose and how they implement their objectives are imperative. Ultimately and inevitably, these actions force their mission and their lives to go off the tracks
Garth Ennis (The Boys, Preacher, Hellblazer, Hit-Man) is the master of writing solid, determined characters. His best creations live by a moral compass, a code of conduct. That value system could be anything from how masculinity is defined, to Bushido, to what the American idea of how people are meant to treat one another is interpreted. By comporting themselves by these beliefs, Ennis’s characters are inescapably forced to make choices that either will compromise or break them. His dialogue flows naturally. His narration of events can be heart wrenching. Red Team Vol. 1 depicts people at their breaking point and how they cope when cornered.
Garth Ennis’s stories are often hyper-violent. Red Team Vol. 1 deals with life or death situations and is no exception. Crafting scenes of violence without making it gratuitous is difficult. Artist Craig Cermak accomplishes this endeavor and more. Cermak is a graduate of the Kubert Art School and has previously been the artist of Voltron: Year One. When I discuss comic book artists, I continually dwell on how much visual individually is bestowed on each dramatis personae. Since comics are a visual medium, I hate it when I can’t discern one person from another. There is no question which cast member is which with Cermak’s art. Cermak is also able to convey the various nuances of emotions well.
Red Team Vol. 1 is colored by Adriano Lucas (Birthright, Red Sonja, Detective Comics). His use of shades, particularly skin tones in relation to light sources for this series are terrific.
Letterer Rob Steen provides the calligraphy for Red Team Vol. 1. Steen’s credits include a variety of Marvel titles including Dark X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men. Most important to me is, Rob Steen has lettered the majority of Dynamite’s various series starring The Shadow.
Why you should buy this book? Red Team Vol. 1 as I mentioned previously, does an exceptional job of portraying the results of the law of unintended consequences and how it effects those who have the responsibility of protecting us. It seems like every day we are besieged by images of police officers abusing their positions of authority. There are a fraction of news stories that describe the incredible amount of pressure cops are under every day. The overwhelming percentage of people in local law enforcement chose that career because then genuinely want to help make our lives safer. Civilians have difficulty truly understanding the toll that responsibility can inflict on a person. That levy doesn’t happen suddenly. It occurs in minuscule increments, unseen until it’s too late and tragedy results. Red Team Vol. 1 explores these themes maturely and dramatically. Your comic store of choice probably has the back issues of Red Team Vol. 1 or can order you the trade paperback. After you digest that, go read Red Tide: Double Tap.