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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Richard Stark's Parker. The Hunter. Darwyn Coke (Adapated and Illustrated) IDW Publishing (2009)

A relentless and nihilistic revenge story, griping but utterly joyless. The superb opening sequence of the book introduces the reader to Parker via the reactions of others to him, before we see him it is clear that he is a hard man. He follows an ingenious scheme to get cash and then tracks down a woman and the reader starts to get a sense of just how focused he really is. Parker was betrayed in some way by the woman and a man called Mal and he has returned for revenge. The path to finding Mal is marked by Parker's cold competence as he follows up the links that lead him to his quarry. The story doubles back on itself to reveal the story of the betrayal and returns as Parker seeks his money as well as revenge. The action is driven, concise logical and quite ruthless. Parker moves to his goal with efficiency and savage determination.

The art work by Darwyn Cooke is superb, in particular the opening sequence, Parker looks like a bit like Dean Martin and that anchors the story in the time frame very effectively. The limited colours in use reflect the very narrow emotional range in the story, anger, fear and greed and a slight sprinkling of lust are all that are expressed by any of the cast. This is the greatest weakness of the book, there is no character development in the book, the cast all operate in the same narrow range, the interactions are all expressions of relative power. Parker is successful because he is the most focused on his goal, the most willing to take violent action to achieve his aim, ultimately the most powerful.

The action in the book takes place in a nihilistic, dead world that is vividly described. It is also exhausting to read as there is no escape from it nor contrast within it. It is a gripping read, the structural problems of translating the original novel into another medium have been resolved with considerable skill.

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