“Red Team” #1 from Garth Ennis and Craig Cermak is an intriguing idea. A specialist law enforcement team goes rogue and exacts a little street justice on a particularly troublesome criminal. The premise is solid and the characters gathered are just about enough to get it all moving, albiet little thin at times. However, the issue suffers due to Ennis’ off pacing, and becomes boring as a result of too much talk and not enough action. Due to the structure Ennis employs, the dramatic tension the issue needs just isn’t there.
The first half of the issue contains characters mostly just sitting and talking. The actual heinous crime gets four pages followed by more talking about the aftermath. This book is just too talky. Not to say comics can’t be all discussion — it can be brilliantly done, but this is not one of those times. “Red Team” #1 is written in a manner that made me want to yawn. I had to read certain pages multiple times just to soak it all in because I was not gripped by the conversations these people were having.
The other main problem with this issue is the structure Ennis employs. He has one of the team members talk after the fact, so any tension involving the crime dissipates instantly. The crime isn’t a problem and the major impact of any shock in this book is frittered away. As it stands, this book simply tells you something is going to happen and then it happens. The final page is a nice reveal, but it feels like Ennis had the premise, the final page reveal, and then not much else to flesh out what comes in between. The result is a comic that meanders, then pads and wears out its welcome.
Craig Cermak brings a nice crime style to the art. His page composition is clean and his characters are all very different. For a cast so wide, he does well to differentiate everyone so there is no confusion. He’s also pushing a boulder uphill against a dialogue-heavy script and manages to keep his pages open and clear amidst the slow treacle crawl of any fluid movement. The colors from Adriano Lucas differentiate scenes well, though they always feel a little heavy, which in turn makes the pages feel denser.
“Red Team” #1 might be a good idea that’s not well presented. Garth Ennis is a writer who should be able to do good things with this idea and these characters, but this issue is relatively turgid. Not even grand enough to be a spectacle, this book is a whimper of a crime not even worth unraveling.