Posted tagged ‘Darwyn Cooke’

Review: Parker: The Hunter

August 3, 2009

Darwyn Cooke is hands down the best artist currently working in comics, and now he’s been given the chance to work on what was aparently his dream project, Donald Westlake’s Parker.  So now we have his first of four adaptations, being the first Parker novel, the Hunter.

Sadly Westlake died last year, but I think he would have been proud of the faith he put in Cooke.  The book had been adapted twice previously in the movies Point Blank and Payback, both of which are pretty good, but aren’t quite the novel, and neither of which was permitted to use the character’s name.  Cooke does right by him with a gorgeous book that makes me incredible glad that there will be 3 more of these to come.

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Review: Showcase Presents Challengers of the Unknown Vol.1

January 25, 2009

The Challengers of the Unknown is one of DC’s best, failed comics.  The concept is pretty straight forward, 4 adventures have a near death experience and decide they are living on borrowed time (which they never get tired of saying).  Thus they decide to live the rest of their lives risking death and routinely saving the Earth from alien menaces and evil scientists.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is the book Jack Kirby was working on just prior to the Fantastic Four, three out of four team members are nearly identical (if you must know Ace Morgan and the Invisible Woman are the odd ones out).  So if you ever wondered what the FF would be like without super powers, this is that book.

The stories themselves are nothing that special, lots of women in distress, lots of three part McGuffin quests, but every now and then something odd sneaks in.  I particularly liked the two issues with Multi-Man, a villain who gleefully commits suicide in order to be reborn with a new power set.  And the premise of the comic makes this one out shine a lot of DC’s other silver age comics for me.  The plots really are identical, but just the fact that you’ve got a professional wrestler doing the same sorts of things as Superman at the time elevates it a bit.

However, the Challengers never really caught on, and that’s hardly surprising given that you can look back at them as an inferior version of the FF.  It’s a shame though, given the chance (Darwyn Cooke did his best to save Ace Morgan in the New Frontier) there’s some potential in these characters for further adventures.

Review: The Spirit Book Two (or why I hate Frank Miller)

October 15, 2008

Sick days sure are good for catch up reading.  Kind of nice that it coincided with my bi-weekly comics shipment.  So here’s the latest from my favorite comics artist of the moment, Darwyn Cooke.  Cooke took on an unenviable task when he decided to relaunch Will Eisner’s legendary character the Spirit.  Especially since the Spirit is not really known for being a particularly important character in his own right.  Instead he is one of the few characters whose reputation lays completely with its creator.  To compound the difficulty, the Spirit is now being linked with an equally influential name in the comics world, Frank Miller.

But there is a reason that Cooke tops my list of artists.  Cooke is an astonishingly gifted storyteller, who has a real love for the history of the medium.  His respect for the original material here makes a nice juxtaposition with the trailers for the upcoming Miller directed film, in which Miller is clearly telling one of his own stories and not one of Eisner’s.

However, Cooke is able to tweak the material just enough to make it feel current.  Ebony White no longer comes across as a racist stereotype for example.  He also adds some more fantastic elements to the Spirit’s world, although I’m a bit conflicted about how well zombies fit into the mythos (probably the only time I’ll come out as anti-zombie).  But that aside this is a great comic, told with more style than anything else on the stands.  And if that’s not enough this collection also includes a few shots from greats like Walter Simonson, Kyle Baker, Glen David Gold, and Eduardo Risso , all of who rise to the occasion (better than Frank Miller seems to be).