Thursday, August 6, 2009

Trade Waiting - Parker: The Hunter

Parker: The Hunter, adapted by Darwyn Cooke, is one of the biggest releases this year, at least from an indie comic perspective, and has been getting a lot of buzz since SDCC '08, when it was originally announced. While I am generally not a fan of the crime genre, I am a huge Cooke fan, so this was definitely something I was going to get. Hit the jump for my review of The Hunter!

Original Story by Richard Stark
Adaption by Darwyn Cooke
Art by Darwyn Cooke

While I enjoyed Parker: The Hunter, I wasn't nearly as enamored with it as everyone else seemed to be. Yes, it is a good story and definitely worth getting, but I don't think it's comic of the year material either. It's not a bad comic by any means, and some of it is really good, but, artwork aside, it just didn't blow me away like many other reviewers seemed to be.

The Hunter is your basic revenge tale. The main character, Parker, is out to get revenge on Mal Resnick, who betrayed him when they were working together on a job. Although the story is pretty much what you would expect with few twists and turns along the way, it is still an interesting and enjoyable one. A lot of this has to do with Parker. While not the best character ever created, he is still a very compelling one. I think a lot of this has to do with the way Cooke introduces him and gives readers a good feel for the character in a pretty short amount of time.

Cooke's plotting is methodical and he does a great job of telling the story in a very interesting manner. He takes a lot of care in introducing story elements and then slowly builds on them over the course of the story. A lot of this is based on how he plots the sequences of events in the story. A great example of this is when how he sets up the confrontation between Parker and Resnick. The chapter begins with Resnick learning of Parker's arrival in New York City and his efforts to find him and ends with Parker finding Resnick in his hotel room. The next chapter then opens with Parker's hunt for Resnick . I enjoyed this since it was not straight, linear storytelling and Cooke did a good job of using it for more than a novelty factor. He does manage to keep the story moving forward despite using a decent number of flashbacks, which what I think makes it work.

Now, despite the way I enjoyed how Cooke told story the story, I wasn't that drawn into it. Yeah, I like Parker as a character and Cooke does a great job of adapting the story, but the story itself just didn't blow me away like I thought it would, though it was never bad at any point either. As I said before, it's a pretty basic revenge tale and isn't that compelling at times since it's pretty easy to see what is coming next, so there are not really any surprises and the suspense can be lacking due to this, too. Again, a solid story that just didn't completely capture my attention.

One of the little details that I loved about the story was that it took place in 1962 and, obviously, things were very different then, so it added an interesting twist for me. The biggest one was when Parker had to get some money at the beginning of the story. Had it the story been in the present, credit card fraud would be the obvious way to go but there were no credit cards in the 60s (well, technically, they were created in the 50's, but nothing widespread or in common use by the 60's). Instead, Parker performs cheque fraud by getting a bank to give a new cheque book after he impersonates one of their clients claiming he had lost his. How he went about doing this was pretty interesting and it just one of the details in the story that really intrigued me.

Of course, Cooke's art is a massive draw for me and it surprised me just how well his style worked with the material. I hadn't seen too many preview pages before I bought this, so I was definitely not expecting it to work as well as it did. He is perfectly able to convey the right tone and mood despite the cartoony nature of his art. It's really a testament to his skill as an artist. I also loved the colour scale used in the book. It's like a grayscale, but instead of just black and white, another colour is used, in this case blue. It keeps that monotone look while still adding some colour. It's a technique I'm liking more and more as time goes on and future Parker novels will use different colour schemes based on what Cooke has said so far.

Verdict - Check It. A solid piece of work that offers an enjoyable story even to people who might not enjoy the crime genre. The real virtue of the work though is Cooke's art which is as impressive as always and something even people that have read the novel will marvel at, making it far from a straight up cut and paste version of the novel being adapted.

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Ryan K Lindsay said...

That's an interesting review. I knid of appreciate someone who is willing to go against the adoring crowd and in the best way, you say it is good and you can appreciate that but it just didn't specifically reach you. That is why i love this site, it's reviews for readers by readers.

Don't forget to take into account that Cooke was adapting a novel from that period, so a lot of the storytelling is a little transparent because it has been aped so often since. It also means that Cooke was only in charge of how to show the information not necessarily which information to put in. But, like the worldess intro, he does a great job in his adaptation.
I cannot wait to read this myself, but in Australia it is hugely more expensive so I might have to wait till I do my next Amazon order later in the year.

Oscar Amos said...

I agree to a large degree. I enjoy this particular type of story and character as well as have a real appreciation for Cooke's art. Other than my own, yours was the first review I've read so I wasn't aware it was getting so much buzz. I can understand the buzz but can also see why it might not appeal to all in the same way.

Fans of the genre, the source, or Cooke will all find things to enjoy. I enjoyed all three and my appreciation of each aspect definitely created a stronger impression for me than others.

Eric Rupe said...

Ryan - I have the same problem with The Dark Knight Returns. Yeah, when the stories originally came out they were original and unique but by now they have been copied too many times to count and, in my case at least, I don't think the original material stands up that well. Neither books are bad by any means but I think there have been works based on the ideas they created.

Oscar - I've heard it being talked about as one of the 10 best comics for '09 for a little while now.

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