…a near-perfect match of artist and character. Cooke's a powerful enough cartoonist that his images do most of the heavy lifting here…At times, he seems to be demonstrating how few brushstrokes it can take to communicate a precise degree of amoral machismo. Parker's a very bad man, but it's hard to take your eyes off him.
The Washington Post
…a wonderfully engrossing graphic-novel adaptation…While the situations may be Mr. Stark's, the stylized imagery is Mr. Cooke's. (At this point in his career, I would happily buy his graphic adaptation of a phone book)…Mr. Cooke depicts his characters with such emotion and conveys so much with gesture and composition that, except for the specifics of the hijacking, you could almost follow the story by the images alone. And when the words and graphics are in harmony, the effect is deliciously brutal.
The New York Times
Cooke has transformed the first volume of the late Donald Westlake's long-running Parker series (written under the pseudonym Richard Stark), about an indomitable outlaw, into a smashing graphic novel, making its ferocious mood and retro aesthetics the stars of the show. Parker belongs to the bottom of the urban jungle's economic strata, but the top of its food chain—anyone who stands between him and his revenge is doomed, whether they're trying to resist him or just happen to be in the way. As the book begins, he's returning to New York City in the Kennedy era with murder in his eyes: double-crossed by his wife and partners, he's come back to kill whoever needs killing to get his money. Cooke has a real affinity for the tough-as-hammers tone of Westlake's story. His Parker doesn't seem to enjoy or dislike slaughter (or anything else); he's just doing what it takes to reach his goal, with a certain dispassionate savoir faire. And Cooke's delicious two-color artwork nails the look of the early '60s, from hairstyles and tiki bars to the illustrative technique that defined the era everywhere except for comics: angular caricatures that capture his characters' motion and expressions with a bare minimum of elegantly rugged lines. (July)
Graphic-novel version of dark 1950s crime fiction. Donald E. Westlake, who died last year, was known mainly for his humorous caper tales, but he also wrote-under the pseudonym Richard Stark-a famous hard-boiled series featuring a stoic and brutal professional thief named Parker. The Hunter (1952) was the first of these; it had Parker exacting revenge on fellow thieves who betrayed him and was made into two films, Point Blank (1967) and Payback (1999). Canadian comic-book writer and artist Cooke (The Spirit, Vol. 2, 2008, etc.) has stylishly adapted it here as the first in a projected series of Parker graphic novels. Cooke has kept the story in its '50s setting, and his retro-flavored illustration style brilliantly fits this material. But his obvious reverence for the source at times works against him; one flashback section is so text-heavy as to nearly crowd out the illustrations. However, when Cooke frees himself from words-as in the opening pages, which have little text or dialogue-his work truly shines. Fans of the noirest noir, such as Frank Miller's Sin City series, will find a lot to like in this well-executed adaptation.
"A magnificent comics recreation of Stark/Westlake's noir classic of crime
& vengeance & a stylish evocation of his stony, relentless protagonist."
"Cooke brilliantly captures New York's early-'60s skyline, fashions, &
cars, integrating cool gradations against black brushwork as smoothly as a jazz soundtrack." — The Village Voice