Ennis is one of my absolute favorite comic writers. And, while I don’t personally share his distaste for superhero comics, I appreciate his bringing other, lesser-known comic genres back into the limelight whether through homage in his own work or through writing exciting, informative, and detailed analyses (masquerading as introductions!) of classic comics.
This classic comes straight from the pages of the popular, British weekly comic digest, Battle, and it follows rogue, British pilot Johnny “Red” Redburn in his trademark Hurricane, fighting for freedom along the deadly Eastern front of World War II. Despite being a disgraced officer, in a stolen aircraft, and British to boot, Johnny Red earns the respect of the Soviet fighter squad, The Falcons, and ultimately becomes their leader. With his unconventional tactics and his unwavering courage, Johnny Red and his Falcons wreak devastation on the German line all while the comic itself shed light on the under publicized Russian resistance.
While not entirely historically accurate, writer Tom Tully does draw heavily from actual events of WWII and still manages to remain shockingly relevant in its depictions of women in combat. Many of the stories in this collection feature the Night Witches, an all-female Soviet squadron who routinely frustrated the German leadership with their deadly nighttime bomb runs. Where Tom Tull’s words start the story, Joe Colquhoun’s art finishes it. His detail and uncanny ability to conjure the action and excitement of combat elevate this comic to something that would be at home on the shelves of your local comic shop today. True, Johnny Red is somewhat dated in tone and style, but its message and technique will ring true as long as there is injustice in the world.
The stories collected in this magnificent hardcover from Titan Books are each three pages long and with the standard comic catch-up intro for those hopping on mid-arc. Technically, this is Volume Three, although I hopped in with this book and had no trouble whatsoever getting swept up in the adventure. So, if you're interested in one of the most popular comics from Battle and an amazing war serial, go ahead and pick up your copy of Johnny Red: Angels Over Stalingrad today!