Review - Bastard's Waltz #1 (@DarbyPopComics)

When you're known for taking out heroes that reputation brings with it a lot of responsibility. At some point, that responsibility of staying alive can be too much, prompting one to want to retire. In Bastard's Waltz #1 from Darby Pop Comics, John the Bastard needs a break from being a terror. The issue is written by Mark Bertolini, illustrated by Giovanni Guida and lettered by Micah Myers.

Bastard’s Waltz is a super-powered thriller with both unlikely friendship and tragic duplicity at its cold heart. When superhuman miscreant John the Bastard is targeted for death, he forces a young Secret Service Agent (Ezekiel Sweet) to protect both his life and his secrets. But, Sweet has secrets of his own…

The premise behind Bastard's Waltz #1 is pretty fresh and Bertolini doesn't do much to overcomplicate things. Where the issue excels though is in its approach to that premise--by building up John the Bastard as a truly terrifying being Bertolini lets his actions do all the talking. It's an interesting way to set up the issue (and series) and it's amazingly effective because the reader gets an immediate sense of the high-stakes at play. Bertolini offers Ezekiel Sweet as something of an innocent foil to John the Bastard's rap sheet of terror, although it's possible that even Sweet has something darker inside him as well. The issue's pacing also affords plenty of suspense as Bertolini unfolds the issue in parallel to a hostage negotiation where John the Bastard's reputation is on full display.

Handling the artistic duties is Guida whose loose style is a good fit for the work. The shaky style provides a sense of reality despite the book being set in a capes and tights world, even though Guida doesn't really make it feel that way. Guida reinforces this notion through the use of the darker, muted colors that also set the stage for a somewhat dystopian world. John the Bastard is illustrated with a weathered look that reinforces the notion that he's lived a very active life being terrifying. Much of Guida's work in the panels features little attention to detail in the backgrounds, but it's not something that detracts from the overall look of the book.

Bastard's Waltz #1 is a great first issue that spends most of the establishing the main character's reputation before diving in. Sweet will definitely have his hands full in protecting John the Bastard. By the end of the issue, Bertolini makes it clear that the series will be a pretty frenetic tale rife with action and intrigue. Guida's artwork is a good match for the work in that it provides a very dour assessment of the reality that John the Bastard has made a name for himself in. Bastard's Waltz #1 starts of slow before building up to something with a lot of momentum behind it.

Bastard's Waltz #1 is available now.