By Dustin Cabeal
I never did find the time to keep up with this series. After reading the great first issue, I definitely wanted more, and so I happily read the trade collecting the series. What a tremendous story it ended up being. Usually, I don’t like superhero homage stories in the least bit. There were traces of it all throughout the trade, but never once did I sigh from the reference. Now, I didn’t cheer either, but then that wasn’t what the creators were striving for you to do.
The story is John the Bastard’s story. You’re not supposed to give a fuck about the homage characters but instead, wonder what would happen if someone homage John the Bastard? After the first chapter, of which you can read my review here, Agent Sweet and John go on a tour de force. Hiding in all the wrong places with a lot of bad people coming for them. Their banter is great as the build a budding relationship.
The premise is that the number one killer in the world, the guy that’s taken out superhero after superhero, needs protection. He had a close shave with someone named Nero, and now he’s sought protection from the FBI. Which leads him to Agent Sweets, a man that has a record for keeping important people alive. John agrees to turn in all his evidence in turn for protection, but in showing that he’s been cuffed and brought it the supervillains of the world go nuts and send all their people to shut John up. Now John and Sweets must fight them all while Sweets keeps the most notorious killer alive when everyone else would let him die.
What’s crazy is that I recently watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard and both stories have the same outline. It’s a shame because Bastard’s Waltz is a much better story. The characters are better developed; their motivations make sense to the way they live their lives. You can’t help but begin to love the weird duo that Sweets and John make. Calling them an odd couple doesn’t quite work, but it’s probably the closest thing to describing them.
The consistency of the artwork throughout the story is satisfying. There are so many comics these days that are inconsistent that seeing something that develops and maintains a style throughout is wonderful. The art made this world feel alive and lived in and that not just the line work, but the coloring as well. From glass door having a different color hue than the rest of the scene and giving objects a fuzzy look, to the flow and style of the action. It’s not that the art carries the story, it’s that it makes it damn entertaining to read.
If I were breaking this down issue by issue, my reviews would be much longer, as my review of the first issue. When it comes to trade, it’s better just to tease it a little and get out. Hopefully, I’ve done just that because this is one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read all year. It has plenty of surprises and again, was a homage story that didn’t get lost in the homage. Agent Sweets and John the Bastard are the stars, and they shine brightly.
Darby Pop Publishing