Garth Ennis has made me cry before, I’m sure of it. Definitely wet eyes at some tragic war story. Not what I was expecting from Johnny Red, especially the way he brings in the present day stuff, which I’ve never liked in the book. But Ennis has this licensed property and he goes very big with it for the final issue. He gets schmaltzy, he gets as close to saccharine as he probably gets. But then he pulls back a little and starts talking about the idea of the comic–the idea of Ennis doing a Johnny Red comic in 2016, being the Garth Ennis who puts so much work into his war stories.
And he goes somewhere else. He and artist Keith Burns have already softened the reader. Burns’s art isn’t strong on the open, either. He rushes through the cliffhanger resolution and just throws the schmaltz at it. It’s not artful schmaltz. It’s pulpy and Johnny Red is supposed to be pulpy, right?
No. It’s supposed to be serious and Ennis spends the last three-quarters of the book being very serious. He talks to the reader about the war story, asks the reader to look at it in a certain way, not another. To question the whole idea of the comic. It’s really deft, really great stuff from Ennis. It puts Johnny Red high up on his post-Punisher work. It gets to be the longer form war comic Ennis does right.
And out of nowhere, right? Titan Comics! Who knew.