Thee Comic Column #78: Ennis & Cermak’s Red Team Ends

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I have to confess as I begin this that I am having trouble figuring out where to begin. There are so many great things that I want to say about the conclusion to and overall run of Garth Ennis and Craig Cermak’s Red Team now that issue #7 is out, however I also do not want to give too much away. Because really – and I know I say this a lot but really – you need to read this book.

But this is not merely an argument for comic fans to read Red Team. This is a pitch to get people who don’t read comics to read it. Because honestly, looking back on the experience of re-reading the entire series several nights ago it now feels more like I watched it than read it. Red Team is such a perfect synchronization of art and words that the book feels more a lot more like a HBO series than it does a comic. And because of that I feel as though this is the perfect book to give non-comic book readers as an entry into comics. This is high end storytelling a la David Lapham’s Stray Bullets (another great read for non-comics folk); real world drama that seriously makes you think, while still entertaining the hell out of you.

As a brief synopsis, Red Team was born from Ennis’ run on The Punisher for Marvel, a series that made him wonder what it would be like if someone really tried to do what Frank Castle does (murder criminals). There’s a great interview I pimped in my previous column on this book and I’ll go to it again because reading Ennis discuss the impetus for the book gives a window into the realistic portrayal of events in Red Team. And that’s what’s so endearing and awesome about the book, the realism of the events and the insight these characters – four New York cops tired of wasting years of their lives investigating criminal kingpins only to have them walk on technicalities – have on how exactly to do this and get away with it. And the beauty of Red Team is they do get away with it – and that’s the worst thing that could ever happen to them.

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Red Team is currently collected in a fantastic trade by publisher Dynamite Comics that includes some awesome special features that show you inside Craig Cermak’s artistic process in conceiving and executing these very normal looking characters who quickly became iconic ‘every men’ to me. No costumes here, but I’d recognize Eddie, Trudy, George or Duke anywhere and it’s awesome to see the process, how Cermak makes these characters so visually memorable. So that’s seven killer issues with extras make the trade well worth every freakin’ penny. Go buy one and after you read it, toss it to your Mom/Dad/Wife/Sister/Brother/Co-Worker… whoever you know that loves series like Breaking Bad, The Wire and Justified but haven’t previously entertained the notion of reading comics. Red Team will help them understand just what a fantastic level of storytelling is taking place in the medium these days.


Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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