The issue’s a little too slight. Not in the middle, but once Ennis wraps it up. He finds Johnny Red’s momentum–the stuff with the Russian fliers, not when it’s narrated, but when it’s the action, is excellent. Like, some of Ennis’s better war writing in a while. It’s real good.
But then the soft cliffhanger comes around and it’s a lame one. Ennis is doing this reboot of Johnny Red, he’s got the constraints for trying to deliver to an existing audience; all of his bad choices make sense. They’re all to be more commercial. And Ennis isn’t anti-commercial in the rest of it, he’s just doing a milder book. The character potentials of the extreme situation (a Brit flying with the Soviets) are where he excels.
As for Burns’s art, most of the WWII stuff is great. The bookend scene in the modern day is bad. Rushed, like an afterthought. It’s a weird waste of a page or two.
Once the action hits, Burns is on point. He can draw exciting dogfight panels. He’s got just the right balance of movement and detail. The grit just furthers what Ennis is doing anyway. It’s a great pairing of creators.