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Despite all of my speculations about the many directions that Red Team could go in, I admit that I wasn’t prepared for what transpired in issues 5 and 6. Moving at a far more accelerated pace than I ever would have imagined, issue #6 marks a major turning point in the series. With the fate of Duke and George now known and set in stone, what awaits Eddie and Trudy? [Spoilers to Follow]
I knew O’Dwyer was a sketchy character, but just how sketchy he was seemed to elude me, and I’m not alone. The leader of a rival police unit, O’Dwyer seems to give everybody the impression that he’s a dirty cop, including his commanding officer. Little did everyone know, however, is that he’s into far more sinister activities than even the criminal-killing Red Team. O’Dwyer’s unit doesn’t just murder, they murder, rob, and cover-up all for their own personal gain.
On a routine surveillance stakeout, the Red Team witnessed O’Dwyer’s unit in action. Not only did they murder everyone at the drug deal, they hacked them all to pieces to make it look like the work of a disgruntled rival gang. So what does the Red Team decide to do about this group of rogue police officers? Take a wild guess. That’s right, they plan to kill them all.
The build up to the job was like any other. Duke, George, Eddie, and Trudy debated morals and logistics. This debate led them to a garage full of automatic weapons. The garage full of automatic weapons led them to a bay out in Queens, what they believed would be a great location to commit mass murder. What happened next is something I never would have expected. O’Dwyer had the drop on the Red Team, and Duke and George were gunned down.
Garth Ennis is an absolute master of violent action comics. With glimpses of Preacher all throughout Red Team, his vintage style has made this gritty police thriller far more than your run-of-the-mill suspense story. Setting roadblocks in unexpected places, distractions and mis-directions where there is actually no threat at all, and nonchalantly killing off two of the main characters in the story—well, suffice it to say that Red Team is Ennis at his best. If Preacher was his nod to the American Western, then this is his nod to the buddy-cop thriller, and it’s a homerun.
And don’t let my praise of the writing overshadow Craig Cermak’s achievements as the artist of this bloody story—and “bloody” might be an understatement. Cermak shows us gore that even members of the Red Team caution each other to look away from. And although this is a comic book, great understanding and meaning pass between characters in the form of mere looks and glances. Cermak displays an inner-life for these in-depth characters, which has the potential to go unnoticed. That’s exactly why I feel the need to point it out here. There is as much a story of pictures being told as a story of words, and Cermak is displays this perfectly.
It’s not easy to do this comic justice in the form of a review. All I can really do is give it a high score, articulate some of the greatness, and then recommend it to those of you that have yet to read it. Well, having completed two out of those three things, I’ll leave you with this: I would put Red Team up against any story within the same genre. Go out and read this comic book if you haven’t yet. It’s a great opportunity to read the work of one of the best writers in the business.