Johnny Red #7 Review
Johnny Red #7
Writer: Garth Enis
Artist: Keith Burns
Publisher: Titan Comics
Few spoilers ahead.
One of the first war comics that I read was a small book called “Big Friends Little Friends”. It was about a British Spitfire fighter pilot learning to get along with his new allies, the Americans and their big B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. I am not sure on when it was published but it had to be old even back then since the only part that had color was the front cover. This was also during the time that TV shows like “Rat Patrol” and “Hogan’s Heroes” was in reruns.
Today, it is very rare to come across a comic that is set in World War II. Yet Garth Enis’ “Johnny Red” series not only is set in this bygone era but the set up is just as unique. Johnny Red is a former Royal Air Force pilot, Johnny Redburn. Redburn was discharged from the RAF when he hits an officer which leads him to the Merchant Navy. However, you can not keep a pilot from the skies and during this time, he ends up flying a British Hawker Hurricane and back to fighting the Germans. When he needs to land, it is in the territory of Britain’s ally, the Soviet Union. He joins with a Soviet Air unit named the Falcon Squadron to keep up the fight against the invading Germans. Hence the name, Johnny Red.
We begin Issue #7 with someone making their way through the snow and they do not look happy. They will come back into the story later. The Falcons have commandeered a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, a four engine German bomber and anti-sub plane. There were only a few of these planes made for the German Luftwaffe, air force. The plan is to get the plane back Russian territory and then to destroy the plane. Of course a German spotter plane flys over and the group have to make haste to get out of there before the place is shelled. While the Squadron is doing that, Redburn is trying to make some deal with a Lieutenant of the N.K.V.D., the Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del or People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. The precursor to the Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti or KGB. The N.K.V.D. Lieutenant’s name comes up halfway through the issue in a scene that takes place in a room with three people. The discussion includes a story on how the Soviet leader Stalin reacted to the German invasion in 1941. Then the Issue goes back to squadron and how it plays out for the Falcons and that Condor getting back to Russian Territory.
Enis’ story is very good and keeps the reader engaged from page to page.
Artist Keith Burns’ dog fight with the planes taking over the panels only adds to the level of the issue. The planes have a lot of detail in them. The background is open in some panels but still gives a grim look to a world at war. At the end of the issue is some historical pieces on the planes of the era and on the N.K.V.D.
The only downside of the issue is a lack of a introduction at the beginning explaining the story so far. For a first time reader to the issue or for now some readers who have not covered World War II in school this can make the issue difficult to pick up and start. Even a bit on what happened in Issue #6 would have been nice. That may have explained why they wanted to destroy the Condor when they got back to Russian territory or who the three in the room were and how they are connected to the group.
Overall, a nice book to find that gives a bit of history without the reader realizing it.