Titan Books has put out another stellar edition of the best air warfare comic ever produced, Britain’s Johnny Red, from Tom Tully and Joe Colquhoun. With the art finely reproduced on glossy pages and encased in a nice hardcover, along with an added introduction by Garth Ennis, volume 3 continues the adventures of Johnny Red as he deals with the hells of war across the Russian front in World War II, in a shelf worthy edition sure to please both collectors and new comers to this comic.
The stories in this volume really heat up and provide some of the most memorable moments for this series. We start out hot finding Johnny having trouble with Lt. Coppel, the brother of the man Johnny accidentally killed, who knows what Johnny has done and is out for revenge, not caring if they are fighting on the same side or not. From this we go from one fantastic story to another, where Johnny and the gang come face to face with the brave Russian Women’s Air Regiment and their spitfire leader, Nina Petrova, also known as the Angel of Death amongst her comrades. Nina proves tougher than most men, and doesn’t even deal with Johnn’ys mouth as she gives him a very surprising sock to the face and a challenge to follow her as her unit takes on the challenges of the Russian war zone in their tiny planes. Johnny of course takes her up on this, and after a night in hell fighting the Germans as they invade Stalingrad, a new respect between the two develops. Next Johnny has to get into shape some pilots sent to him from the Punishment Division, as well as dealing with partial eye blindness. We then get an arc where Johnny decides to go to the war front on ground with Russian soldiers to see first hand how bad it is. This proves to be a nightmare as well, as he deals hand-to-hand with the horrors of the Germans. Finally, the book wraps up with Johnny’s rival Erich Von Jurgen showing back up and their destiny to battle one another.
Each one of the tales in here is simply captivating in execution and concept, yet all unflinching from the horrors of war. As interesting as it can be that Tully introduces a character like Nina one moment, a few seconds later he will remind us this is war and let Colquhoun do his masterful thing by rendering some stunningly good yet terrifying art, as we see men blown apart in cockpits, crushed under rubble, and aghast in terror as they kill each other like animals in the ruined streets of smoked filled Stalingrad. Certainly no one has done an airfare comic like the team of Tully and Colquhoun, always entertaining and keeping you glued to page after page, yet never glorifying the horrors of war.
The third volume of Johnny Red, “Angels Over Stalingrad,” is out now from Titan Books.