John the Bastard’s road to, well, can you call it redemption?, continues in the second issue that as the cover suggests starts to add layers onto the story.
As of last issue, Nero had caught up with John and his law enforcement saviour Agent Ezekiel Sweet at the latter’s HQ. From there its bullets and blood as the unlikeliest of buddy stories hits the streets, aiming towards a safe house where John can start to pay back the cost of his protection.
Mark Bertolini has crafted an intelligent story that is hidden under the violence inherent in the book. There are a number of philosophical questions raised in this and the previous issue. Is the cost of John’s testimony worth all the death that seems to be following? Is it right that a self-confessed murderer of heroes lives free? Bertolini wisely focuses on other aspects of the story, peppering the details of how John killed some strangely familiar sounding heroes and keeping the dialogue between John and Ezekiel tempered by the idea that one does what he wants, John and where the other does what he feels he has to do, Ezekiel.
Giovanni Guida’s art continues to be a fragmented affair, that at times relies on the good nature of the reader. Guida’s art is unusual enough to act as a contrast to the style of art seen in other Darby Pop books. That’s not a bad thing; you just need to be prepared for it and once you decide to immerse yourself in the book, then the storytelling flows through the art in a more linear manner than some of the bigger, splash page heavy artists that others try to imitate. Guida also relies on a less is more approach to faces, with just enough detail, in a disjointed way, to convey the feelings of the dialogue. You could argue that the lack of any detailed backgrounds or bold strong colors detracts from the book. I would counter that by saying that the backgrounds that are in the book do just enough to add context to the story and the allows for the characters to remain the focus, as does the colors. It is apparent that the pairing of Bertolini and Guida is a partnership that is suited to this type of story.
This second issue goes some way to cementing the ideas that started last issue. The art may be unconventional and I understand how that this may be a deal breaker for some. In that regard,, I would just ask that you keep an open mind as the combined efforts of all involved are certainly delivering an entertaining read.
Fans of the book and it’s creators, keep your eyes peeled for an interview with writer Mark Bertolini and artist Giovanni Guida coming soon.
Writing – 4 Stars
Art & Colors – 3.5
Written by; Mark Bertolini
Art by; Giovanni Guida
Published by, Darby Pop