Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Johnny Red Collection 2 - Eps 1-5

Was in London yesterday, popped into FP and was very happy to see this here second volume sitting on the shelves - with 3 quid off to boot.
So that's that bumped to the top of my reading list and i tucked right in.
Garth Ennis in his foreward mentions something that i've put here before, in that Johnny Red was quite rare in boys comics of the time, in that he actually ages as the strip goes on.
I said before how over only the space of a few episodes the character went from a fresh faced boy to a battle-hardened veteran. Something hammered home brilliantly by Joe Colquhoun's gritty depection.
We've got it from the get go in this collection:

And the episodes i've got through so far bear that out, with a distinct lack of silliness or barmy notions. There are a couple of nods to it, but mainly it reads as a stepping stone strip between the tongue in cheek romps of say "Rat Pack" or "Major Eazy", and the straight, grim, tell it like it was of "Charlies War" or "Darkies Mob".
Like i say, there are a couple of things that wouldn't seem out of place in other strips:
Johnny having to settle a feud with another pilot by having a duel in their planes - but with each only having a single three second burst of bullets for their fighting with.
And a vision in a nightmare that Johnny has, which he reckons is a premonition of one of the squadrons impending death.

The centering on that during the next battle has echoes of the maudlin moaning of "D-Day Dawson" and i guess its necessary for the plot device to work, but it does detract a bit from the terrfic art going on.

The action here is up there with Joe's best work on "Charlies War" and includes the death of Alex, the Squadron Leader, leaving Joe in charge from now on.
An elongated "Aaaaieeeeeeeh!" from a German soldier. But, as he's been shot, is in the drink, and has a Barge landing on top of him, can understand that.

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