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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Garth Ennis' Red Team: Rogue Cops, Vigilante Justice, and Christopher Dorner

Nickie Phillips

red-team---sook

Garth Ennis once again tackles the theme of vigilante justice in his new comic Red Team. For those interested in themes of justice and retribution in popular culture, the comic promises a rich study.

Ennis' (along with artist Craig Cermak) Red Team hits the stands the same week that Christopher Dorner is on the run from law enforcement. Dorner, rogue cop and alleged murderer, turned his anger on members of the LAPD and their families which he accused of being corrupt. Dorner's motivation is outlined in his manifesto in which he alleges corruption within the LAPD. He is believed to have killed four people, including the daughter of a police captain and her fiance, and injured others. The manhunt for Dorner has ended, and after a shootout with authorities, he is now believed dead in a burned-out mountain cabin.

There is certainly a cultural appetite for vigilante justice, as evidenced by those who voice support for Dorner. Many have likened Dorner to Rambo and other fictional vigilantes who fight the system. It is through these popular culture narratives that we collectively process our anxieties about crime, justice, retribution, and vengeance. As such, Dorner "means" different things to different people. Chauncy DeVega, writing for alternet.org, suggests that Dorner may serve as a "symbol that speaks to our collective subconscious" and part of our "American cultural mythos."

Ennis, best known for his work on comics such as The Punisher, The Preacher, and The Boys, provides some of the best and most thoughtful comic book writing exploring themes of crime and justice. Red Teamexplores the consequences of rogue cops who take the law into their own hands, murdering a known criminal and the "slippery slope" of extra-legal justice. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Ennis talks about his influences for the comic and the desire for realism,

"The starting point for 'Red Team' was, essentially, what if someone tried to be the Punisher for real?" Ennis continued.

For more on Dorner and the Starkweather Syndrome, go here.