The Undefeated Villain

An article by, Aaron Burton

The mark of a hero is their ability to overcome adversity with impressive feats of strength and intellect. This is typically accomplished by, you guessed it, defeating the bad guys. This story is as old as writing itself dating back to ancient stories such as The Odyssey and The Epic of Gilgamesh. Humans have always loved stories of triumph.

The hero needs to come out on top in order to validate their journey. Batman's history would not pack as much of a punch if the Joker consistently got the best of him. Peter Parker's radioactive spider abilities would not be as meaningful if he were constantly put down by The Green Goblin. What happens when the villain goes undefeated?

Bastard's Waltz is a comic book written by Mark Bertolini, author of books such as Broken and Old Ghost. Giovanni Guida provides the artwork for the book. There are currently two issues of Bastard's Waltz. The first issue was released August 14th of 2017. The first volume of the trade paperback is scheduled to be released on September 27th of 2017. The book was released on Darby Pop Publishing.

John the Bastard may be the most prolific villain in comic book history. He has been able to avoid capture by the police. He has defeated every hero that has had the nerve to challenge him. Everything is going fine for John until a new villain named Nero gives him a run for his money.

Fearing defeat and backed into a corner, John the Bastard turns himself into police custody for protection. This is when he meets Ezekiel Sweet, the Secret Service agent tasked with protecting his life. If gangster movies have taught us anything it is that working with the police is an unforgivable sin. This puts John and Ezekiel in the cross hairs of every criminal force in their city.

Guida's art is raw and biting. This is a perfect fit for a violent and abrasive story. The art utilizes shades of pale yellow for much of the panel's backgrounds and lighting. Flashbacks are colored with a palette of pale blues. This sets a choice backdrop for other colors to be used as emphasis. Important characters pop off the page with the colors used in their outfits. The most notable use of this are the reds used in background objects, action text, and of course the bloodshed.

The character of John the Bastard embodies the spirit of a worn and seasoned villain. His attention to detail and sheer courage truly shows how he has been able to remain successful in his criminal career. He always seems to make the right move, even when those around him are fearing for his life. Underneath John's hard exterior we see an old man who is tired. Nothing lasts forever, and John seems to be cognizant of this sentiment. His cooperation with the Secret Service shows his vulnerability, but he is not quite ready to throw in the towel.

I found Bastard's Waltz to be gripping. It is interesting to see the story from the villain's perspective. With thousands of books showing hero defeating their villains, it was refreshing to read a comic where all bets are off. As the panels went on I caught myself cheering on John the Bastard as winds down his criminal career. Guida's art is rough in the best way possible. I found his style to be reminiscent of artists such as Jeff Lemire. If you are a fan of gritty crime dramas, or just rooting for the heel, then Bastard's Waltz is for you.

The first trade paperback can be pre-ordered through Darby Pop's store ( The issues are also available on Comixology.

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