The work of Garth Ennis can be broadly broken down into two types. There’s the bawdy, knockabout, buddy comedies like Dicks, The Boys and Preacher, or there’s the treacle black, borderline nihilistic, ultraviolence of stuff like his seminal run on Punisher MAX. Red Team #7 with its cocktail of blood, betrayal and some morally murky decisions, sits squarely in the darker, more cynical part of Ennis’ canon.
Trudy and Eddie, the surviving members of vigilante police unit Red Team, are brought into debriefing together as their tale of deadly justice comes to its conclusion. As they detail the bloody turn of events that took place, Eddie and Trudy are faced with some unpleasant truths and tough decisions. This is a story with consequences, and not all of them are particularly desirable.
This world of uncertainty and shades of grey is ably served by Craig Cermak’s artwork, which is brimming over with strong character work and solidly composed panels. There’s an abundance of close-ups in this comic and Cermak brings a lot of detail to characters and their facial expressions. The tightly focused panels also emphasise the shock and brutality of gunshots, violence suddenly explodes into the panel, an unwelcome intruder into scenes of people talking. It’s potent, powerful and punchy.
Ennis shows his usual flair for dialogue, equally comfortable with police and combatjargon as he is with more casual conversation, his characters talk and act like real people. Likewise, his story of law enforcers who cross the line into illegality rings true and any darkness in the story is all the more distressing because of it.
It takes backbone to end a series like rhis on such a morally ambiguous note, but Red Team #7 succeeds in taking this story to its natural conclusion while leaving space for further stories with these characters. It might be dark, but it’s a gripping read.
The writer of this piece was: Joe Morrison
Joe is Freelance film journalist based in Glasgow.
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