Pullbox Reviews Redcoat #1, one of three opening issues for the new Ghost Machine… & the hype is real

Reluctantly fighting for Britain during the American Revolution, Simon Pure stumbles upon the Founding Father’s secret mystical organization and inadvertently gains the power of immortality. Jaded by humanity over the decades, Simon becomes a cheeky mercenary looking for a hot meal and to make some easy money while pursued by an endless list of deadly enemies, ex-lovers, and bill collectors.

When the announcement came out for Ghost Machine late last year, I think the word “hype” may have popped up now & then. Let’s face it, given the list of creative names involved in this new creator-owned publishing group, my first thought was “force of nature”. There was no way their list of titles wasn’t going to make some headlines, in and outside of the industry.

And I was right. At the MegaCon Orlando in February, there was no getting within fifty feet of the Ghost Machine booth without investing a fair amount of time in what was my only day there. The Machine continued to roll along as their first batch of titles dropped last week (April 2, 2024 for the chronologically challenged). In the spirit of the mob mentality, I grabbed all three debut issues for Geiger, The Rook: Exodus, & Redcoat, and while I may have been most looking forward to the first two, the one I most enjoyed would have to be Redcoat!

Look, there’s no getting around the simple fact that Geoff Johns can make comics. The guy has been one of the movers & shakers for years, so anyone doubting whether he knows this stuff should do a quick Google search and then come on back. In Redcoat’s Simon Pure, Johns has created a character that isn’t always easy to bring to the page. Not only is he a bit of a (lemme check to make sure I’m getting this right…) bell end, but he’s also very much aware of it. Johns walks the tightrope between making Simon less than honorable while keeping him relatable if not downright likable. He’s not great with money (over 100 years and he’s still flat broke), he’s not especially brilliant in any one thing (except not dying), and he collects a lot of slaps from the women he’s gotten involved with (fully admitting that he deserves every one of them). He is not Connor MacLeod, by any stretch, just a person trying to get from point A to point B as best he can while meeting as little resistance as possible.

Luckily, it’s in the resistance Simon runs up against that Redcoat’s team of crack art commandos gets to shine. Starting at ground level, Bryan Hitch’s illustrating style, with inking duties shared by Andrew Currie, establishes Simon’s misadventures by showing readers all the problems that come from his grifter’s lifestyle. The resulting action flows across the page, and Hitch has a great way of arranging panel layouts to keep it moving. Brad Anderson’s colors bring the chaotic world to life, shining a light on all of Hitch’s good work right down to the cheeky glint in Simon Pure’s eye. I love a story with a left-of-center character, and this artistic team has captured every quirk, every “nod & a wink” as Simon tells us his story, resulting in a read that was just a lot of fun… something that isn’t always as evident as I think it should be in the comics world.

Finally, I have to give it up for Rob Leigh. In comics, the letterer is often the least noticed member of the creative team. Part of that stems from the fact that the less a reader is aware of their work, the better job they did at it. Leigh gets that and avoids any big flourishes that might take away from the artwork, or interrupt the action on the page. After I finished the issue I realized there were very few onomatopoeia (sound effects) on the page, & it occurred to me that I’d just kind of filled them in myself. That’s Rob Leigh, letting the script and the art do their jobs without trying to fill in every blank.

It looks like there are going to be some historical twists in Redcoat, as well as the other titles that are part of Ghost Machine’s intertwined line encompassing The Unnamed. I’m very much looking forward to following along to see where we go from here. If you have any interest at all, get thee hence to your local comic shop before these beauties are all gone.

Final Score: 12/13

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