blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Hunter (2009)


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.

One response to “The Hunter (2009)”

  1. Even though Cooke can be a master storyteller, this book also failed to me for similar reasons. I felt he should have just let his talent do the talking, and felt free to edit and/or elaborate Westfield’s novel where it was needed in order to make it a more complete comic reading experience. Instead, what we got was a bit of a narrative mess in places, taking a lot of the momentum out of the story. Parker, while a bad guy, just never fully resonates as a character in his own book. He says he’s taking a year off before adapting the third, which hopefully will give him even more objective distance than what he achieved in the second adaption. There’s hope for this one yet.

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