Well, I’ve finally watched Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (yes, I’m late, but in Italy distribution companies don’t believe in August), and there’s still one character that appeared in the movie, and that I didn’t write about. When Nancy Callahan finally reaches Senator Roark‘s villa, she enters the politician’s atelier, a room which shows an interesting painting, featuring a gruesome yellow guy. Roark clarifies the monster is his deceased son, who also appears in a flashback played by Nick Stahl. The character was one of the main villains of the first movie, and he was the one that gave the That Yellow Bastard episode its title. He’s portrayed as a pervert almost killed by Detective Hartigan, who later tries to claim vengeance on both him and the girl he saved, Nancy, but ends up being killed for good. In the comics, his story is pretty much the same, but let’s see together.
The main power in Basin City, and one of the greatest in the entire United States, was the Roark family, whose members gained important key positions in politics, economy, even religion. Ethan Jr. was born in this family, raised as the crown prince of his father’s kindgom. His father happened to be the most powerful member of the most powerful family of the State, a cruel man who had become a U.S. Senator, and who planned for his son a future as President. Junior grew up in this dream of his father, with all the self-awareness that being untouchable brought along. A young, wealthy and influent man, Ethan Jr. built for himself the public image of a playboy, a life-loving heir who enjoyed the company of women and friends. Obviously, reality was a little bit different: Roark was a murderous pedophile, a pervert who raped extremely young girls (usually not older than 10-11 years) and killed them, counting on the connivance of his father’s lackeys to make the bodies disappear and to cover everything up. Also the Police Department was on Senator Roark’s paybill, so he could be sure that nobody would have hunted him for his crimes…until he found one of the very few honest cops in town, Detective Hartigan. Despite being constantly misled by his partner, Bob, Hartigan ended up catching him with his hands in the cooking jar, as he had just kidnapped another girl, Nancy Callahan, and was about to rape and kill her as well. Hartigan cornered Roark at the docks, saved the girl, and repeatedly shot the young man, taking away his right hand, his left hear and his genitals. When he was about to deliver the finishing blow, however, he was stopped by Bob, and Roark was taken in by his father’s men. Senator Roark ordered the press to change the story, and Hartigan was depicted as the one who had killed all those girls. Meanwhile, the Senator spent much of his fortune to guarantee his son the best surgeons and doctors around.
In some years, finally Junior was back on his feet, with everything in the right place thanks to reconstructive surgery. Unfortunately, the heavy ormonal therapy he went through had some major side effect, such as tainting his skin in yellow, modifying his facial traits, and giving him an extremely stinking perspiration. Only one thing had kept Junior alive for all the years of rehabilitation and interventions: his deep hatred towards Hartigan, and his thirst towards the only victim who had escaped his grip, Nancy. In order to catch them both, first of all he had to make Hartigan get out of prison, where he was paying the crimes Roark committed: he started intercepting Nancy’s letters to the former detective, making him believe the girl was in danger somehow. Hartigan ended up confessing Roark’s crimes, everything in order to be allowed to get out of prison. Unable to locate Nancy, Junior followed Hartigan to Kadie’s Bar, where he finally found the girl, now 19 years old, who was working there as a stripper. Seeing the girl was alive and well, Hartigan realised he had been tricked, but it was too late: Roark now had them both, and followed them as they tried to escape. During the ride, Hartigan managed to shoot the Yellow Bastard, as he called their pursuer, but Roark survived, and reached them at Mimi’s, a motel. Roark incapacitated Hartigan, and hanged him to the ceiling fan, with only a stool to bear his weight. He meanwhile kidnapped Nancy, and brought her to the family farm, a place isolated enough in which he could claim his vengeance at peace…
Ethan Roark Jr. is a cruel sadist, a pervert who enjoys torturing, raping and killing young girls; he gets aroused by hearing the screams of pain and fear of his little preys, but he only reaches the climax of pleasure killing them. His violent tendencies are somehow justified by his father, who’s always ready to cover up everything he does, an attitude that created an unprecedented arrogance in Junior. As the Yellow Bastard, the treatments have taken a lot from him, but also gave him something in return, and Roark has his strength, durability and stamina augmented over normal levels due to the eccess of testosterone. Completely deranged, absolutely cruel, Ethan Roark Jr. represents everything that is rotten and putrid in one of the most corrupted cities in the world.