Advanced Review: Bastard’s Waltz #1

Age creeps up on us all.  The one constant in life, is that no one gets out alive.  There are days where we all feel our age.  On these days we may take stock of our lives in the hope that introspection can give us the means to carry on.

John Cullen is having such introspection forced upon, not by father time, but by a meaner hombre than he is.  Now at the ripe old age of 65 he wants to turn stoolie and runs for the protection of Executive Protection Agent Ezekiel Sweet.  Well runs may be a bit of an understatement for a man so vicious all he has to do is say “boo” and law enforcement along with everyone else heads for the hills.  It seems that John has a reputation for killing that is more than deserved.

Mark Bertolini has written a book with an anti-hero that is driven by his own need for self-preservation in a way that you can’t help but be intrigued.  This is a huge credit to Bertolini’s skills as there is actually nothing redeeming about John in any shape or form.  The flip of the story is Ezekiel Sweet whose presence acts as an anchor for the reader inasmuch as his actions and feelings are a more natural response to the situations he finds himself in.

Giovanni Guida provides the art for the book.  For those expecting Darby Pop’s usual flash and boom book may well be disappointed.  That is not to say that the art in this book is bad; it’s just different.  Guida’s art is a more grainy style, which has a feel of a less perfected Klaus Jansen.  Guida’s characters don’t fit the usual perspective model, are a little wonky in places and there are times when there isn’t a great deal of background.  With all that said, the art matches the tone of the book brilliantly.

Darby Pop are getting into the habit of putting out some thought-provoking books of late.  Bastard’s Waltz fits their business model perfectly, given that you can’t really help but shout for, essentially, the bad guy!  At the core of the story is the idea that the characters are true to themselves.  It will be fun to see how both John and Ezekiel world views impact and influence each other.

Writing – 4 Stars
Art -3 Stars

Written by; Mark Bertolini
Art by: Giovanni Guida
Published by; Darby Pop

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