Graphic-novel version of dark 1950s crime fiction.
Donald E. Westlake, who died last year, was known mainly for his humorous caper tales, but he also wrote—under the pseudonym Richard Stark—a famous hard-boiled series featuring a stoic and brutal professional thief named Parker. The Hunter (1952) was the first of these; it had Parker exacting revenge on fellow thieves who betrayed him and was made into two films, Point Blank (1967) and Payback (1999). Canadian comic-book writer and artist Cooke (The Spirit, Vol. 2, 2008, etc.) has stylishly adapted it here as the first in a projected series of Parker graphic novels. Cooke has kept the story in its ’50s setting, and his retro-flavored illustration style brilliantly fits this material. But his obvious reverence for the source at times works against him; one flashback section is so text-heavy as to nearly crowd out the illustrations. However, when Cooke frees himself from words—as in the opening pages, which have little text or dialogue—his work truly shines.
Fans of the noirest noir, such as Frank Miller’s Sin City series, will find a lot to like in this well-executed adaptation.