Red Team #1
Written by Garth Ennis
Pencils by Craig Cemak
Colors by Adriano Lucas
Letters by Rob Steen
Covers by Ryan Sook, Howard Chaykin, & Russ Braun
Release Date: February 6, 2013
Cover Price: $3.99
Dynamite Comics’ new series, Red Team, is a classic “dirty cop” mini-series that focuses on a team of elite detectives. The Red Team was formed to deal with the worst of the worst criminals. Which eventually brings them to Clinton Days, a drug dealing, pimping, child pornograph-ing murderer. Days eluded and frustrated the team for almost two years with a mix of clean crimes and fancy lawyering. He finally pushes them too far by killing a cop. The group decides the only way to get Days off the streets is with some vigilante justice.
Writer Garth Ennis takes the Red Team down a slippery-slope storyline. The concept is a proven winner spawning well-regarded and highly rewatchable television series such as The Shield and movies like Training Day. Cops are bound by the law to bring criminals to justice, not justice to the criminals. But once this group crosses that line, they realize that they are phenomenally good at it and it won’t be the last time they murder somebody. However, we already know that the team screws up somewhere along the line: the core of the story occurs in an interrogation room.
You have to read Red Team more than once to appreciate it. I could barely stay awake on my first read-through. Talk, talk, talk, anti-climactic murder, talk, talk, talk. A large portion of Red Team #1 is Detective Mellinger telling an interrogator what happened and why.
It’s tough to connect with the story and its characters. Red Team often jumps between present and past making it difficult to know exactly where you are in its timeline. The action is minimal; the little action that exists is a clinically boring murder. But that’s also the entire point of the story, which is revealed on the final page where the entire team looks all Dexter-like.
On my second round of Red Team #1, I grasped some of its subtleties. I knew when each scene was occurring in the timeline, which made the story much more comprehensible and intriguing. I caught some details in the story and the murder that I originally overlooked. I appreciated how perfectly Clinton Days was executed and why this was so disturbing to Detective Mellinger. I also noticed character dynamics such as a little sexual tension between Mellinger and his teammate Trudy.
Artist Craig Cermak does amazing work with a difficult script. A dialogue-driven script in the wrong hands would be a disaster. A careful examination of Cermak’s panels reveals character gestures, expressions, and body language that flesh out Garth Ennis’ script to tell a complete story. Cermak’s characters are easily differentiated with a wide variety of face and body types— this story has no neon tights and big superhero emblems for artists to use as a crutch.
Red Team requires a different type of comic book reading: your undivided attention to detail. It’s a shame that it took me a couple of tries to “get it,” but my attention-span has also been shattered by nearly two decades of internet addiction. I hope and expect that the action picks up in the coming issues of this miniseries.