I remember back in 1999 when I met your idiot cousin, Porter, in Payback. He had your meanness and coldness down, but his attitude wasn’t right. Then, I met your other cousin Walker in 1967’s Point Blank. This was pretty close, too, but still not quite where it needed to be. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that neither of them was allowed to use your name. I’m not even going to mention the 2012 film Parker, which is horrible.
I liked your cousins, but I remember when I fell in love. It was about two years ago, and I had just picked up the Darwyn Cooke graphic novel adaptation of The Hunter. About 15 pages in, I realized that Porter and Walker had borrowed the vague plot points of your life, but they couldn’t hold a candle to you. As soon as I realized that other people had tried to imitate you, I realized that nobody ever could. I had grown up liking Johnny English, not realizing that James Bond was out there.
So, what makes you different from the rest? You are relentless, brutish, and hulking, but so is Dolph Lungren. You are careful, clever, and imaginative, but so is anyone from Ocean’s Eleven. The thing that makes you Parker is that you are a sonofab---h. You are perfectly willing to empty someone’s bank account with bad checks if you need the money badly enough. You rob. You steal. You undertip. You killed a guard to escape prison with six months left on your sentence. I have seen you wage war on a vast criminal organization for a few thousand dollars.
Part of the reason you are so compelling is that you are frequently confronting the absolute worst people. That’s not the real reason, though. The real reason I love you is that you are always the underdog, and you are mean enough, clever enough, and stubborn enough to come out on top. There was the other time you waged war on the vast criminal organization, the time you and a few colleagues (I don’t know that you ever had friends.) robbed an entire town, or the time you were trapped in a closed amusement park while an army of goons from a small-town mob hunted you. The thing about you, Parker, is that I always know you will get out on top.
Now, I will confess that I have not read any of the 23 books by the late and apparently great Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark), but the graphic novel adaptations by Darwyn Cooke are absolutely my favorite thrillers ever. They capture your coldness, your ruthlessness, and your d--kishness perfectly, but they also capture your specialness. You’re a sonofab---h, Parker, but that’s why I love you.
P.S. I haven’t told anyone about you, and I promise I won’t, so you can leave me alone. Right?