7 Days to Battle Action: meet Johnny Red and Skreamer of the Stukas!

1st June 2022

Featuring seven brand new stories written by Garth Ennis – the mind behind The Boys, Preacher, and war comics such as The Stringbags and Sara – the 96-page hardcover anthology captures the spirit and action of the merger of the groundbreaking Battle and Action comics in the 1970s.

Behind the cover by Andy Clarke (Batman and Robin) and Dylan Teague (Madi), Ennis is joined by artists Mike Dorey (Ro-Busters), John Higgins (Watchmen), Keith Burns (Ladybird Expert series), PJ Holden (The Stringbags), Patrick Goddard (Judge Dredd), Chris Burnham (Batman) and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen artist Kevin O’Neill.

As we approach D-Day, we shall introduce you to the legendary Battle Action characters who are back in action for this landmark book - so it’s time to don your goggles, jump into the cockpit, and take to the skies as we meet JOHNNY RED and SKREAMER OF THE STUKAS!

This brand new mission - written by Garth Ennis with art by Keith Burns, colours by Jason Wordie, and letters by Rob Steen - brings together these opposing warriors of the air: one a young Brit and the other an unhinged German!

Johnny Redburn was a 19-year-old Scouser court-martialled from the Royal Air Force for assaulting an officer during his flying training, Finding work as a galley hand on a CAMShip - an escort vessel capable of launching a single Hurricane fighter on a one-way trip - when the ship was hit during a German attack on an eastbound convoy, Johnny took to the air in its defence, then flew the Hurricane to Russia. There he met the men of Falcon Squadron, a Soviet fighter-bomber unit, joined them in their battle against the Nazi invaders, and within a year became their commander.

The result of Battle editor Dave Hunt’s laudable wish to feature Russia’s war in his paper, Johnny Red was the comic’s most popular strip for a good portion of its ten-year run. Created by writer Tom Tully and Charley’s War artist Joe Colquhoun, the strip was taken on by future Judge Dredd artist John Cooper after a couple of years. Johnny’s trademark battered Hurricane, his loyal and valiant Falcon comrades, his deadly rivalry with German ace Erich Von Jurgen, and his ongoing battles against not just the Luftwaffe but the Soviet secret police - all these factors combined to cement the character’s status as one of the all-time greats.

Otto Skreamer, meanwhile, is the very antithesis of Johnny’s stoic bravery - an impressively nasty piece of work who flies the Junkers 87 dive bomber, the infamous Stuka, against the enemies of the Third Reich.

Created by Gerry Finley-Day and Rossendo Franch, Skreamer was pursued by the irritatingly plucky Jimmy Fletcher for most of the war but constantly slipped through the noose with a mixture of guile and outright evil - until a final mission and a mysterious passenger brought him face to face with destiny.

Skreamer saw print for only a few months at the end of 1978, but the character was enough of a swine to make a lasting impression, with Finley-Day’s trademark blend of hot lead, heavy irony, and a starring role for the bent-wing Stuka - as potent a symbol of Nazi warmaking as any other.

Join Johnny Red and Otto Skreamer as they meet in the skies in the pages of the Battle Action Special - out on 8 June from all good comic book stores and the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops, and from September from all good book stores and major online retailers.