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Comic Book / Red Team

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An seven-issue comic book from Dynamite Entertainment, written by Garth Ennis with art by Craig Cermak and covers by Howard Chaykin, Red Team is a crime story set in and around New York City.

A major crimes unit within the NYPD, Red Team, has been pursuing a particularly ruthless drug dealer, Clinton Days, for years, and inadvertently eliminated most of his competitors in doing so. When the dealer in question arranges for the death of a fellow cop and subsequently has the man who pulled the trigger assassinated, leaving them with nothing to go on, the Red Team proceeds to step outside the law.

The original series was followed up with a sequel in 2016, Double Tap, Center Mass, which ran from August 2016 to May 2017. The survivors of the first series have been busted down to street-level patrol duty, but by complete accident, stumble across a particularly high-profile case that might be enough to get them back to where they want to be.


  • Amoral Attorney: Dershowitz, the defense attorney hired by the Nightingale family in the sequel, is this trope all over. Mellinger refers to him as a "reptile" who can see all the angles, and play them to protect his client regardless of whether or not he's innocent. Later on, when Little Boi's crew is unexpectedly represented by his firm and strikes a deal that protects Eric, Trudy states that as long as he's well-paid for his efforts, there's probably nothing Dershowitz wouldn't facilitate or organize. It's never proven, but Dershowitz is almost certainly the one who hired the hit team that kills Little Boi.
    • In the broader context, lawyers like this are a big reason the original team goes rogue in the first place. They use legal loopholes and dirty dealings to protect their obviously guilty clients, meaning that after years of legal-but-ineffective policework, the team is left with no choice but murder to deliver justice. Which is arguably an accurate appraisal.
  • Author Tract: Like a lot of Ennis's work in 2012 and 2013, time is made for some anger at the Catholic church and its pedophilia scandals.
    • The sequel series has Mellinger shred the argument of a Strawman Political that all drugs should be legalized and drug dealers rehabilitated. He quickly reminds her that while drugs like marijuana are one thing, crack and heroin and meth are another, and users will do anything to get hold of money for them. Not only that, but the sheer amount of money available in trafficking means that many dealers don't want to be rehabilitated, so what's to be done about them? This could be considered a slight aversion, in that Mellinger is clearly sympathetic to and understands her viewpoint; he just has a different perspective due to his job and experience.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The team are vigilantes who murder numerous people across the series, and on the whole don't feel a twinge of remorse for their victims; they're more worried about getting caught, and the consequences that would befall them and their families. That said, all of their targets are career criminals, paedophiles, mass murderers and gangsters, and more than one (like O'Dwyer) is straight-up "pure fucking evil".
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: One of the team's chosen victims is a fairly blatant stand-in for Bernie Madoff.
  • Dirty Cop: One of the bigger arguments of the series is that there is a difference between this trope and a corrupt cop. The author seems to be arguing that while the team are criminals because of their extra-legal actions, they were doing so out of a desire to do good, rather than self-interest. Exactly how valid that is YMMV depends on the reader.
    "Can we just kill the idea right now that we were anything like O'Dwyer's animals? No matter how fucked up we were, we were trying to do some good - they did all that Jack the Ripper shit for profit."
    • Both Mellinger and Trudy go on lengthy rants at various points about how cops like this aren't isolated offenders, and it's the culture of the NYPD that produces a lot of them. O'Dwyer and his psychopaths were but an extreme example. Even the team itself, who are clearly fine with multiple murders, are heavily implied to have been planting evidence on past suspects before they started just executing people. That is seen as part of the job; it's only when they start murdering people that they get an inkling they've gone too far.
  • Downer Ending: Double Tap, Center Mass ends with Eddie and Trudy off the force, Eric Nightingale doing extremely soft time for his crimes, and Trudy leaving New York City entirely, convinced she doesn't deserve happiness.
  • Fair Cop: Played straight and Deconstructed with Trudy. She's very attractive, to the extent that even perps she's just arrested hit on her, but she has to bust her ass twice as hard to prove she isn't just a pretty face who slept her way to the top. All of her teammates' wives also hate her.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The plan to take out Clinton Days in issue #1. The problem is that it goes off absolutely flawlessly, thus encouraging the Red Team to do it again.
  • Irony: Mellinger goes on a rant about how the fact that the Irish still make up the majority of the NYPD means that "inbreeding and complacency" have made the whole organization slow and corrupt. Earlier on, Trudy goes on a similar rant, decrying how an absolute disgrace of an officer like Williams (not to mention his father, who was essentially a gangster with a badge) was protected for years by the "blue wall of silence". The department is so riddled with "Old Boy" networks and terrified of image problems that all misconduct and offences are hushed up. Well, guess whose team's actions are covered up and made to vanish by that same code of silence in the last issue of the original series?
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: A brutal example with George and Duke. So many gunshots, in fact, that one of the shooters describes them as looking "like something off a butcher's block". Also occurs when O'Dwyer's crew of corrupt cops wipe out both sides of a drug deal. Everyone has at least half a clip of automatic fire emptied into them, and that's before they're hacked apart with machetes.
  • Office Romance: Eddie and Trudy have been attracted to one another almost from the moment they met, but have consistently fought it down due to Eddie's marriage and Trudy not wanting to interfere with that. As of "Center Mass" Issue #4, they finally give in to the attraction.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Eric thinks he's got the stroke and influence to pull this off, by simply handing his lawyer's business card to the cops who stop him. As it turns out, however, whatever juice he does have isn't enough to keep them from searching his car... at which point they find two pounds of heroin and two corpses in the trunk.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: A far more tragic example is the fate of Duke and George in the penultimate issue of the original series. George is badly wounded and Duke stays behind to help him get away, refusing his calls to save himself. This would be where they get some distance and go down swinging, or turn the tables, right? Wrong. They get ten feet and then are gruesomely riddled with bullets from behind.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Very common, and to be expected from a Garth Ennis work. For every death by single shot, there's a couple involving a whole cloud of flying lead. A "localized" example would be the very first person the team kill: George shoots him five times in the heart at contact range.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Seems to be a common theme throughout the entire series. One particularly glaring example is when a rich, white yuppie type "posses up", recruiting a college football team armed with bats and sheer muscle to try and intimidate a ghetto drug trafficker and his gang. This goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • Vigilante Execution