The Hunter (2009)

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Hey, why is Darwyn Cooke doing the adaptation for that Mel Gibson movie Payback ten years late?

Oh, right, just the same source material. But who was really clamoring for an adaptation of the Hunter? Cooke excels with the art and creating an unglamorous feel for early sixties New York, but there’s something missing with the writing. As a protagonist, Parker is repugnant and there’s no way for Cooke to avoid it and stay true (the problem with the Mel Gibson adaptation). But Cooke does curb it.

We don’t get to see Parker smacking women around–though the “bad guy” does.

Cooke also includes long text passages–he does an entire flashback in text, which makes the read temporarily painful–and it’s clear he could have gone two ways with the Hunter, he could have done a comic adaptation or a collection of illustrations to accompany the original novel (like Wrightson’s Frankenstein).

Instead, he unsuccessfully tries to find a middle ground.

When he’s doing a straight adaptation, even with the very visual storytelling (the opening twenty or so pages is a montage–the Mel Gibson movie did it in about four minutes), it’s glorious. A lot of his pacing with the panels owes a lot to comic strips, the one, two, reward panel. It’s a mean-spirited, very dysfunctional grandchild of “Peanuts.”

Unfortunately even Cooke doing a straight adaptation can’t fix the ending. Cooke’s art confuses to the point of frustration. The big chase ending is too hard to follow.

I wish it’d been better.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, colorist, and letterer, Darwyn Cooke; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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