Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Hunter and The Outfit (comicbook adaptations of Richard Stark's Parker novels)

This comicbook series is a superb adaptation of the Parker novels by Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark). Tightly written, cleverly plotted, and witty in unexpected places, the novels' protagonist is Robert Parker, a thief with a surprisingly strict and simple sense of moral code.

In The Hunter Parker returns from a long hiatus to go after Resnick, a former heist partner who betrayed Parker and left him for dead. Parker simply wants his money back, but things escalate quickly when Resnick asks for protection from a criminal syndicate known as The Outfit. So Parker shifts his sights to get his money back from The Outfit, who somehow can't believe that Parker is crazy enough to go all the way to the top just just to recover, get this, the exact amount of money that Resnick stole. But Parker is a sociopath, and it is often said that many sociopaths are geniuses.

Parker executes a plan that, in the end, gets him back his money. How he does this is the highlight of the story, so I will not spoil your reading pleasure.

What is interesting about Parker's character is the turmoil of internal conflict operating within his psyche, which he all somehow controls with internal strength. Parker's world is ruled by fairness: you get what you deserve. If you take something from me unfairly, I will take it back from you, no more, no less. Parker will not hesitate to use force on violent adversaries but he will not tolerate harming people not involved in the conflict.

The Hunter inspired three movies Point Blank (starring Lee Marvin), Payback (Mel Gibson), and Parker (Jason Statham). Darwin Cooke's minimalist drawings and sparse coloring evoke the original milieu in which the Parker novels happened.

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