"Red Team" #5 is a story split in two parts. In the first, a re-opened investigation back at the precinct house leads the Red Team to watch their backs more closely than before. In the second half, the next mission to look over the new pretender to the Clinton Days drug throne has a grisly ending and the Red Team has to figure out how to handle it. Is it worth exposing themselves to crack a major bloody crime?
Garth Ennis is starting to pull all of the pieces of the series together. With the ending coming up in issue #7, that feels about right. The Red Team's initial kill of drug lord Clinton Days is coming back up for investigation, which leads the Red Team to scale back their next mission to keep themselves out of trouble. If only things could have worked out that easily.
Given the set-up to the series, the Red Team's mission wouldn't last forever. The only question readers were left to figure out is how things would go wrong for them. Would someone get cold feet and turn the team in? Would they be caught in the act? Would a mission go badly and result in death, mayhem, and trouble? Remember, we've only seen two of the four members of the team being interrogated in the first four issues.
While each Red Team member has expressed misgivings or doubts, they've never hinted at being traitorous or turning tail. While one or two missions may have been misguided or miscalculated, the team learned from their mistakes and adjusted to them. Ennis' scripts have done a good job in planting all of those mysteries without belaboring any of them into looking like a red herring.
In issue #5, though, things go bad on a scale that will be tough to come back from. What makes it even better is that the thing that goes wrong is completely out of their hands, and now they're left asking themselves the toughest questions about what to do or say next. It isn't as easy an end as being caught in the act or led into a trap. It may not even be the thing that leads to their demise, but Garth Ennis has added up all the pieces he's placed on the board so far and laid a figurative trap for his characters beautifully.
Craig Cermak's art, though occasionally a little stiff, fits the book well. He can draw normal humans in a variety of shapes, and doesn't skimp in setting scenes or adding enough detail to keep each scene well grounded. He keeps individual characters clearly separated with art that's easy to read. His art line is clean, and his storytelling is clear. He doesn't need fancy layout tricks, and he's able to vary up the panel configurations in different scenes to separate the more chaotic sections of the book from the more controlled regulad parts.
There are two issues left in the series. It'll be very interesting to see where things go from here. I think issue #5 will prove to be the turning point that brings the rest of the series crashing down upon its characters. I'd hate to see it end, but I'm glad there's a limited scope to this story and that we'll have an actual ending. "Red Team" #5 is a strong turning point for a series that's rarely even had the chance to rest.