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Sunday, July 26, 2009

HARD BOILED LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER: Richard Stark's PARKER: THE HUNTER adapted by Darwyn Cooke

The late Richard Stark — the pen name of prolific writer Donald Westlake — created one of the great characters in crime fiction when he came up with career criminal Parker (no first name is ever given), the protagonist of twenty-four badassed novels. Parker has made it to the screen on several occasions in one form or another, most notably in John Boorman's excellent POINT BLANK (1967), but never under the name "Parker" for no apparent reason, and has quite a following among those who like their protagonists tough, smart, and morally ambiguous. So when I heard Darwyn Cooke would be adapting four of Stark's Parker novels into the graphic medium, I rested secure that finally Parker was in the hands of an adapter who really "got" what he was all about. Cooke's proven himself over and over to be one of the very best that the comics biz has working in it at the moment, producing such stunning works as CATWOMAN: SELINA'S BIG SCORE (2002) and the Eisner Award-winning DC: THE NEW FRONTIER (2004), and his sense of brisk storytelling is tailor-made for this current project.

In THE HUNTER the story is simplicity itself: after being betrayed by his partner, shot by his wife and left for dead, an understandably pissed-off Parker survives and goes after those who fucked him over. The very definition of relentlessness made flesh, the lesson to be learned here is "Don't fuck with Parker. And if you choose to do so, you had better be goddamned sure that the motherfucker's absolutely, positively tits-up dead." That's it, but the magic is in how Stark unfolds his tale, and Darwyn once more knocks one out of the park, bringing down the closest communications satellite from orbit. Take my word for it, you simply owe it to yourself to read this one, and I firmly believe Stark/Westlake would have been overjoyed at the results. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

1 comment:

Declan Shalvey said...

I thoroughly agree. Got it last week and i can't stop re-reading it. Great book. Production quality is superb too. Best thing i've bought in ages.