Review: Johnny Red: Falcons’ First Flight


Johnny Red:
Falcons’ First Flight

Buy on Amazon.com

Wars are complicated. They are messy and the conflicts always have many sides and many different perspectives. They are tragic for everyone involved, whether it’s the winning or the losing side.

Johnny Red: Falcons’ First Flight (Titan Books, 2011) is none of those things. This is about as uncomplicated as it gets. Nazis are bad. Russians are maybe not great, but they’re better than Nazis. Lots of stuff blows up and our hero survives impossibly ridiculous odds.

There is a delightful “what’s next?” quality to this book. Our hero, Johnny, has little personality. His notable qualities is that he’s an amazing pilot, if a little hot-headed. But that’s insignificant when there’s another explosion. Once I realized that I wasn’t particularly going to care about any of the characters or really, why any of this was happening — it actually became fun.

Joe Colquhoun’s art is complicated and expressive. His airplanes and other machines are more defined than his characters (other than Johnny, everyone feels pretty interchangeable), but Colquhoun does pack the panels with plenty of action. The layouts are also surprisingly dynamic, featuring other shapes than the basic rectangle and multiple small images packed into a page.

Tom Tully’s writing has a breathless quality. Everything is high drama all the time. While I realize this is a war story, there is very little downtime. Something is always happening. Johnny’s airplanes or weaponry malfunctions countless times and yet he always escapes. It tends to border on the ridiculous, but I get the feeling that’s kind of point.

This book is lovingly presented by Titan Books. It features an introduction by Garth Ennis and some historical context from Jeremy Briggs. The oversized format also showcases the artwork well.

Ultimately, while I don’t think Johnny Red is really to my particular taste, I do admire it as a piece of comics history and I was surprised at how much fun I found it to be. In the end, though, I don’t think I need more of it.

Review copy provided by Titan Books.

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2 comments

  1. dbborroughs says:

    I think it’s probably more a guys book then a girls book.

  2. comicsgirl says:

    I would agree with that, yeah — it certainly is (the introductions make that pretty clear) — but there is a level where good things are good. And so this was good for the most part.

    For me, though, I think it’s just I’m not particularly interested in war stories. Especially these kind of war stories.

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