Review: ‘The Hunter’ by Darwyn Cooke from IDW
Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way first: Yes, ComicMix is publishing lots of stuff with IDW Publishing. Doesn’t matter, The Hunter
would still be on the short list for the best book of the year if it came out from Chick Publications.
I’ve had a preview copy of the entire book for a few months now, and I’ve held off on reviewing it because I didn’t want to tease you, even though previews of the first pages were up and about. You just would have wanted more. I certainly did.
The backstory is simple: it’s an adaptation of The Hunter
by Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark. It’s the first novel featuring his protaganist Parker. In this book he’s been betrayed by his wife and fellow criminals in the aftermath of a heist, and he hammers his way through New York circa 1962 to get revenge. A lot of it. With guns and fists and… you get the idea.
The book’s been adapted into film a number of times with varying degrees of quality, the two best known adaptions are [[[Point Blank]]] with Lee Marvin:
…and [[[Payback]]] with Mel Gibson:
(And before you ask, [[[The Hunter]]] with Steve McQueen has nothing to do with this book.) But this may be the closest adaptation of the source material, as evidenced by the fact that this is the first adaption that Westlake let use the name Parker.
It’s certainly faithful in (duo) tone. This is the time period Darwyn Cooke was born to draw, in the same way that Dave Stevens was born to draw the era of the Rocketeer. The book feels like 1962, and yet modern at the same time. If you know Cooke’s other projects– New Frontier, Selina’s Big Score, the Batman animated series, you don’t need the sell, if you don’t, picture here a blend of Jack Cole and Bernie Kriegstein, and you’ve almost got it. This book is clean and compact and accessible in ways that no other comic has, and should take the mainstream by storm. The preview almost makes reviewing redundant, let’s just say that Cooke keeps control of the pace all the way through.
I got my review copy early that I was able to call IDW and natter at them about a few production glitches, if the book hadn’t gone to press yet. When they said it hadn’t, I told them to save time in the future and just print “Eisner nominee” on the cover now.
Really. It’s that good. Buy copies for friends.