Johnny Red: The Hurricane

I don’t think that Garth Ennis has written a war comic that I haven’t enjoyed reading on some level.  However, the more enjoyable ones tend to be where he tells us an actual story as opposed to explaining a specific aspect of combat or history.  “The Hurricane” easily falls into the former category as it’s another story about “Johnny Red,” a famous character in the pantheon of British war comics.  While his full name is Jonathan Redburn, “Jonny Red” works particularly well for him as a nickname because he’s a British pilot who has wound up fighting alongside the Russians during WWII.  He’s helped turn a ragtag fighter group into the fiercest bunch of pilots on the Stalingrad front, a fact which has not gone unnoticed by the higher-ups in Moscow.  So when two senior officials of the N.K.V.D. show up and announce that they’re going to be taking over to lead a special operation to be conducted by Russian personnel only, that sets off a lot of unrest in the ranks.  While it seems that this operation is going to be a simple milk run, Johnny soon finds out that it’s actually taking his comrades three hundred miles behind enemy lines.


The reason they’ve been sent so far behind enemy lines is a good one and actually quite believable given Russia’s fortunes at this stage of the war.  It also leads to a cameo from a prominent historical figure that should by all rights break your immersion in the story, but Ennis manages to make it work.  The overall story is an entertaining wartime adventure tale that uses just enough historical detail to make the fiction more enjoyable.  Granted, I could’ve done without the present-day sequences involving a tech billionaire restoring Johnny’s Hurricane fighter and getting his story in the process and the character’s longtime nemesis is worked into the story in a way that’s more awkward than anything else.  “The Hurricane” also boasts excellent art from Keith Burns as he shows us why he’s one of the best there is at depicting wartime aircraft in action.  I don’t know if Ennis plans to do more “Johnny Red” stories, though this one is good enough to make me want to check out the collections of the character’s original adventures.

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