Things don’t get much tougher on the crime fiction front than The Hunter (IDW Publishing, $24.99, 2009), Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the classic Richard Stark novel introducing the iconic criminal character Parker. This is easily the most hard-boiled crime comic to come along since Frank Miller founded Sin City in the early 1990s.
Set in 1962, this is a tale of a truly unrepentant criminal who is out for revenge on the woman and men who double-crossed him and set him up for dead. And it’s that setting — 1962 Manhattan — that makes Cooke the ideal match for this project. His style, which evokes classic animation, captures the style of the era in a way few other artists could. It’s abstract at times, vividly concrete at others and always powerfully focused on its story.
Done in a lovely two-color format, the narrative does run out of steam just a bit by the end, partly because Parker never really becomes anything more than a one-dimensional vehicle for the kind of mayhem that must have really stood out in 1962 but is a bit more common now. That small quibble aside, it’s a very stylish and highly entertaining thriller that will surely wow hard-core fans and casual readers alike.