Garth Ennis, basically, writes two types of stories, three if you count the occasional work-for-hire he’s done like a bad three-part Spider-Man story he did for Marvel once. One type is the slapstick, dark humor story with a strong dose of satire. Arguably, his better known work all falls under that category. But he can also do very serious works, often stuff involving tough guys and a lot of violence, often when he’s telling a war story or something involving the military. His best work often combines the two, using the slapstick to grab someone’s attention and then reel the reader in with a more serious tale tucked inside.
Red Team from Dynamite is a very serious story.
Eddie, Trudy, Duke, and George are detectives in the N.Y.P.D. They all belong to the elite Red Team squad, an investigative unit that specializes in bringing down the baddest of the bad. After a two year investigation into a particularly nasty and elusive drug dealer goes bad when the dealer kills an associate working with them and as a result manages to slip away yet again, the four of them have a serious conversation about just killing him and getting it over with. They know he’s bad. They know what he’s been up to. They know what cops look for, so they can avoid getting caught. Why not kill him? And anyone else who’s just as bad and likewise avoiding arrest and/or conviction.
The story is told from the dueling perspectives of Eddie and Trudy. These two are the younger half of the four while Duke and George are the more veteran officers who know more about the job and how to do it. Eddie has an extremely guilty conscience about the whole thing and his marriage is falling apart. Trudy is someone who has to work extra hard just get where she is due to her gender, and she’s tired of being judged by her looks. The two make for interesting dueling narrators, distinct in their own way from what each other, and that’s part of what makes the story work.
The other part is how much the decisions of the Red Team have effects that none of them saw coming. Many of their cases are far from cut and dry, and there are a number of other factors floating around that complicate the story, often foreshadowed by Ennis’ rather top notch script. Artist Craig Cermak is fine, though truth be told he has a style that seems to match a lot of artists Ennis works with, making his work somewhat interchangeable with the artists on a lot of Ennis’s stuff. It’s not bad at all, but it’s not particularly distinctive when compared to other Ennis collaborators. As such, I’m giving this one 9 out of 10 mystery interrogators.