Publisher: Titan Comics
Story: Garth Ennis.
Art: Keith Burns
Release Date: 6th January, 2016
Messrs Ennis and Burns continue their tour de force with this third issue of Johnny Red. “Witches over Stalingrad” picks up the story with the narrator giving some background information on the Night Witches, an all-female Air reconnaissance regiment. They form the nexus of this issue, as they have been asked to perform a mission for which their aircraft are poorly suited. What’s worse, they have been left with inexperienced support as the Falcon Squadron have been pulled away to perform escort duties which they will have to do without Johnny as, apparently, appearance is more important than efficacy.
The majority of this issue deals with the decisions delivered by the NKVD Major Babak to stop Johnny leading his Falcons and to put the Night Witches in harms way. Johnny tells his men that he believes they will more than likely be on a milk run, and that he has probably been pulled so that the Pride of Russia isn’t seen to be led by a “Scouse Bastard going – all right mate”. Johnny is far from pleased when he goes to discuss tactics with the new escort squadron, only for him to be laughed at for suggesting using Nazi tactics against them. Not one to sit idly by Johnny takes to the air, and… well… If you want to see what happens, read the comic.
Ennis delivers the dialogue with his usual resounding proficiency, and everything just feels natural and the way that all the characters interact is just lovely. What more can I say, Ennis is as Ennis does, writer of bloody fine dialogue, plotter of bloody fine stories.
Keith Burns just goes from strength to strength, his figure and face work is wonderfully gritty and stands up beautifully beside the works of Joe Colquhoun (The original artist from the Battle strip), However, it’s when he draws aircraft that the magic truly happens. Every panel that shows an aircraft is a bona fide masterpiece. I must admit that I have always been a fan of war comics depicting aircraft, but I can honestly say that I have never seen anyone draw them with quite the panache and dynamism that Keith Burns does. His aircraft feel alive on the page.
All in all, this is another rip roaring yarn of derring-do, but deeper down, this comic explores just how close to victory the Germans came at Stalingrad, and just how close to the bare bones the Russian forces really were. The creative team have done this really well.
Rating: I can’t deny them another 5/5.
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If you want to find out more about Johnny Red, make sure to check out our interview with Garth Ennis and Keith Burns by CLICKING HERE.
The writer of this piece was: John Wallace
John Tweets from @jmwdaredevil.