I don't want to blow anybody's mind here, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Garth Ennis really, really enjoys writing war comics. I'm not sure what the tipoff was --- it might've been War Story or Punisher or Battler Britton or War Is Hell or all the stuff with the tank in Hitman --- but something about his comics have given me the idea that he has an affection for the genre, and the chops to back it up.

So I can't really say that it's a complete surprise that he's teaming up with artist Keith Burns and publisher Titan Comics to revive Johnny Red, the story of a British pilot fighting in the skies over Stalingrad in World War II, and if history --- both Ennis's and Stalingrad's --- is any indication, it's going to be pretty brutal.

 

Variant cover by Carlos Ezquerra

 

Originally created by Tom Tully and Joe Colquhoun in the pages of the UK's Battle Picture WeeklyJohnny Red was the story of a gifted British pilot who accidentally killed a superior officer and was drummed out of the service, but decided not to give up on fighting Nazis, and instead signed up with a Russian fighter squadron called the Falcons --- hence the name. As you might expect from the combination of a morally compromised hero and a focus on all-out violent battle action, the series was a favorite of a young Ennis, who wrote the introduction to a collection of the original strips a few years back.

Here's the official solicitation from Titan:

 

Hitting stores November 4, the explosive new series features original adventures of the fighter ace who thrilled millions and rocketed to status as a classic British comic character in the pages of legendary combat comic Battle, bringing World War II to incendiary life in the finest air warfare stories ever told! Ennis and artist Keith Burns are diving right back into the thick of the period action to present the character to a contemporary audience!

Legendary British fighter ace, Johnny 'Red' Redburn, returns once more as the commander of the Falcons – a Russian fighter squadron battling the Nazis in the skies over Stalingrad. But dogfighting Messerschmitts is about to become the least of his troubles when the NVKD – the notorious Soviet secret police – come calling!

"Johnny Red achieves a level of historical detail that I still find remarkable today," said Ennis. "Johnny's story is not just one of my favorites but a British comics classic!"

Issue #1 comes with three covers to collect: an art cover by series artist Keith Burns (order code: SEP151621), a variant art cover by Carlos Ezquerra (order code: SEP151622 ) and a blank sketch cover (order code: SEP151623)

 

Johnny Red #1 will be available online and in stores from November 4.