Saturday, July 3, 2010

Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter

Written by Donald Westlake
Adapted by Darwyn Cooke

I've never been one to read a lot of crime novels, especially ones that are in a series, like the Parker books written by Donald Westlake under the pen-name of Richard Stark, but I am a fan of Darwyn Cooke and his approach to depicting the middle of the last century, so it was a sure thing that I would read this graphic novel eventually. 

Cooke has an understanding of the early 60's and its design aesthetic that suggests he should really be much older than he is.  His lush penthouse suites are spacious, and filled with low-lying couches and chairs, and futuristic-looking coffee tables.  He is able, in drawing a room, to convey the optimism of the time, in the last stretch of years where nothing could touch the superiority of white male America.

Entering into that is Parker, an angry thief who was double-crossed in his last big job, and is now looking for revenge on the man that crossed him, his wife who betrayed him, and the syndicate that has employed them.  Parker is a brutal man who thinks nothing of wading through bodies to get what he wants.  One particularly chilling scene involves him casually tying up a woman in a hair salon that provides him with a good vantage point on his prey.

The book begins with difficulty.  It shows Parker arriving in New York, but there is no real explanation as to what is going on.  It's not until the second quarter of that book that Cooke starts to fill us in on who the characters are and what their deal is.  It is at that point that the book began to pick up for me.

Of course, the story in a Cooke book is almost secondary to his wonderful art.

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