Trade Junkie: “Parker: The Hunter”

Only took me about three months.

Parker was a long running series of crime fiction novels started way back in 1962 and lasted up through 2008. The books followed the titular character of Parker, a frigid and rough around the edges criminal whose only real goal is to live off of as much money as he cares to take. In most of the novels within the series he’s seen carrying out each job with a cold efficiency, letting nothing get in his way or deter him from his cut of the profit.

In 2009 the phenomenal artist, Darwyn Cooke, took up the task of adapting the first book of the lengthy series, Parker: The Hunter, into comic book form. What resulted was one of the most solidly made crime fiction comics to come out in recent years. Parker: The Hunter follows our criminal protagonist as he seeks revenge on the man who stole his wife, killed his partners, left him for dead and most of all took his money.

The story is very much of its time. A hard-boiled, stick to your guns, men being men revenge tale and while it deviates very little from its premise it carries it out very well showing off a solid and exemplary piece from its chosen genre. Unlike many crime novels of its time Parker takes its story from a third person perspective keeping the audience detached from the main character. In other series this might have been a fault of the book, but with Parker it goes a long way towards intensifying the mystery behind the withdrawn and slightly vicious criminal. Parker as a character is no man to be trifled with and keeping the narrative out of his head serves to strengthen the build up to the eventual revelation of his methodically thought out plans. We all know the end result of this kind of story, but The Hunter has the idea of making the lead up as interesting and as satisfying as the climax.

Parker

It’s near impossible to discuss the story of The Hunter without making it clear just how integral the art of the story is in this adaptation. Comics have and always will be a medium capable of fusing both art and the written word into a unique way of telling a story. Parker makes almost perfect use of this idea utilizing the art as not only a method of envisioning the action, but also a way of telling the story without even needing words. That’s not an exaggeration either as aside from the title there is nary a spoken word or thought within the first twelve or so pages. Nice, satisfying chunks of the story are told through nothing more than the illustration, but by no means does that result in the book not taking just as great of a use of the novelization from which the series originally came. When the story does use text it truly feels like reading a novel at times and not just a comic. Very little else has stood as a more perfect example of a graphic novel as Parker: The Hunter.

Parker: The Hunter is published by IDW Publishing and is currently available in both the hardcover and paperback versions. It was originally written by Donald E. Westlake under the pseudonym Richard Stark and was adapted into comic form by Darwyn Cooke. Parker: The Hunter currently has two sequel comics by the names of Parker: The Outfit and Parker: The Score with a fourth book being currently in production. The book is still widely available and can most likely be found at your nearest book store or through most online outlets.

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Retail Price: $25.99
Writer: Donald E. Westlake
Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Age Rating: Adult
Genre: Crime Fiction
Original Release: 2009
Availability: Common

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