Garth Ennis, Brian K. Vaughan, Chris Burnham Lead New Battle Action Series Lineup (Exclusive)

Ennis writes the final Johnny Red story while BKV and Burnham reimagine Kids Rule OK! in new Battle Action.

Rebellion Publishing has enlisted top comics talents – some familiar, some new – for a 2024 edition of the beloved British war comics anthology Battle Action. Garth Ennis returns to Battle Action, teaming with artist Keith Burns to tell the final tale of World War II ace Johnny Red, one of the most storied heroes in British comics. Additionally, Saga co-creator Brian K. Vaughan joins Battle Action alongside star artist Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated, the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles relaunch) to reimagine the infamous comic strip "Kids Rule OK!" for modern audiences. Other talents contributing to the 10-issue run of Battle Action include John Wagner, Torunn Gronbekk, Dan Abnett, Rob Williams, John Wagner, John McCrea, John Higgins, Henry Flint, John McCrea, Steve White and Tom Foster.

"Happy days: more Battle Action. This time we've got more stories, more brilliant writers and artists- some from last time, some new- and more of an emphasis on Action, with half the ten stories featuring characters from the older comic," says Ennis (for the uninitiated, Battle Action came from the merging of two other British comics magazines, Action and Battle). "Batt Hookjaw, Kids Rule OK and Death Game will be joining Dredger and Hellman, with Battle's El Mestizo coming in alongside Major Eazy, HMS Nightshade, Nina Petrova and Johnny Red. New bods include John McCrea, Steve White, Tom Foster and, indeed, the one and only Brian Vaughan."

(Photo: Rebellion)

Ennis continues, "Getting Brian on Kids Rule OK was a particular coup; I personally think he's the best writer to get into the business in the last thirty years, and his love of British comics gives this a nice sense of things coming full circle. I secured his involvement at great personal cost, namely a cheeseburger. I think it may have cost Rebellion a bit more." 

Ennis also offered more detail on the final Johnny Red story. "The story is called A Couple Of Heroes, and sees Johnny and the Falcons battling the retreating Germans at the beginning of 1945," he says. "The war has a way to go yet, but for Johnny it can't end too soon- his friends are nearly all dead, the woman he loves is missing in action, he's not far off approaching burnout. But a figure from the very beginnings of the strip reappears with an offer of work, one that sees our hero flung back into the maelstrom on the deadliest mission of his life. For Johnny Red fans this one really does have it all, with Nina Petrova, Erich Von Jurgen, Rodimitz and Popovich, the NKVD and even the Flying Gun showing up."

(Photo: Rebellion)

Ennis continues, "Anyone who followed the classic Johnny Red strip in Battle knows that it started brilliantly and ended somewhat underwhelmingly ten years later, and it was while pondering how things might have gone that I came up with A Couple of Heroes (some readers may actually twig where the title came from). You could say that Johnny Redburn's story will end not too far from where it began, as the Red Devil faces his fate high above the Arctic Ocean."

On teaming with Burns for the story, Ennis says, "I've said this before, but Keith is really the artist I was waiting for all those years- he draws war comics the way I write them, living and breathing the stories as they develop. You can see the influence of the old stuff on his work just like you can on mine- he's got a touch of Graham Coton and Ian Kennedy the way I have John Wagner, Tom Tully, Pat Mills, Alan Hebden, Gerry Finley-Day.

(Photo: Rebellion)

"We are in fact the Alan Moore and Kev O'Neill of war comics. I'm taller, just so you know who's who."

The first issue of the new Battle Action series goes on sale on August 28th. More information is available on the 2000 AD webshop