Review: The Hunter

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In today’s market, the price of comic books keep going up. If you are paying $2.99 for your comics, you know you are happy. The Amazing Spider-man is still $2.99, while Action and Adventure Comics (once the home of Superman—that is a topic for another time) are up to $3.99. Of course, the comic book companies all recognize that trade paperbacks are an essential for the continued health. Soft bound trade paperback books can start around $12 (manufacturers suggested price) while hardbound rarely cost less than $20.

Having said that, I hope to convince you to go out and spend $25 on a comic book that is smaller in size than a regular comic book. And only in black and white. Would it help if I said that it was hardbound? Or that it was drawn by Darwyn Cook? Or that it was written by Richard Stark, aka Donald E Westlake?

The book is called The Hunter. Originally published in 1962, it features Parker, a man who could be considered a common criminal–except for his drive and single-mindedness. What is Parker hunting single-mindedly in The Hunter? Revenge, pure and simple. The book starts in medias res with Parker walking across the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan. Who walks into Manhattan? Train, bus or cars are the preferred method of entry. But a man driven to seek revenge is who we see stalking across the bridge past the midday traffic.

And those first twenty pages are all you need to be hooked and need to follow Parker into the city. Stark has written that a man he saw determinedly walking across the bridge was his inspiration to create Parker and write The Hunter. Apparently, Cooke’s visual interpretation of Parker, including that menacing walk across the bridge, met with Starke’s approval. In fact, he gave permission for the protagonist to have the actual name Parker, something that has never happened before (notably in The Hunter movie adaptations Pointe Blank (Lee Marvin played ”Walker”) and Payback (Mel Gibson played “Porter”).

Cooke is a fan-favorite among comic book fan boys. DC appreciated his work so much they let him recreate the Silver Age of comics in DC: The New Frontier and start up their reboot of The Spirit. Cooke got his big break working for Warner Animation doing storyboards for Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. His work on Catwoman is often considered the best interpretation of Batman’s sometime foe, sometime love interest.

Does $24.99 still sound too steep? Then get the book at your local comic book dealer where you have a hold/box and get your discount on it. This is one of the best books of 2009, and even though it is already 2010, it still be sitting on your shelf, ready for the multiple readings you will want to give this book. The best news? Cooke is working on three more books.

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