5.01.2013

Red Team [Shotgun Blurbs]

by Contributing Writer Keith Silva

 
Red Team
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Creators: Garth Ennis, Craig Cermak and Adriano Lucas

What It's About: Four detectives from a major crimes unit in the New York City Police Department go rogue and decide to take the law into their own hands. Duke, George, Eddie and Trudy are cops’ cops, each has seen too much and become angry at the fact the bad (really really bad) persist despite their crimes. Red Team branches off of the 'what if' wish fulfillment morality and ethics of killing to save a life and asks: 'what's wrong with killing the guilty?' The story is structured as confessionals intercut with flashbacks of the murder under discussion. It's not clear who the interlocutor is and what happened to bring Red Team in to confess its crimes, it's also not clear if it's a confession or a debriefing (?) or what. Red Team works in greys.     

Why You Should Buy It: The best works of genre fiction understand the boundaries, rules, conventions and clichés of the genre and either exploit those principles or finds ways to reinforce those ideals in a clever way; the exceptional examples, the classics, the real burners do both. Red Team -- the title itself smacks of devilish wit, rouge, of course, being French for red and close enough to the English word 'rogue' to not be mere coincidence -- illustrates Ennis's smarts and how he plays with inference and the audience's expectation. Red Team stakes its claim as a writerly text because Ennis expects the reader to become active in the investigation, culpable. What does it say about a reader who agrees with the principle of a just killing? In the series timeline, Red Team's first kill takes place eight months before the members are brought in for questioning. This gives Ennis time to develop this story and to (hopefully) keep the confession/flashback structure from wearing too thin.

If Ennis is the cagey vet who's seen too much, Craig Cermak plays the role of the hot-shot rookie looking to show the old man he's his equal in every way; two issues in Cermak looks to be a worthy successor to other Ennis collaborators who go by the names Dillon and Robertson. Cermak's cartooning looks like the storyboards to a great movie or TV show and not in a way either Cermak (or Ennis) has designs on Red Team being anything more than a well told work of sequential art. Colorist Adriano Lucas finds the sweet spot between lurid and realistic. Lucas's sickly grey-greens of the confessional sequences say as much about Red Team as Ennis's words and Cermak's composition.

As another worn-at-the-heels detective once said: ''I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue.'' What Ennis, Cermak and Adriano want to interrogate is how dirty Red Team can get, how do they stay clean and at what cost; and is it worth fighting for, worth killing for?

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