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RICHARD STARK’S PARKER by Darwyn Cooke

RICHARD STARK’S PARKER

Adapted and Illustrated by Darwyn Cooke

 

The Hunter – Vol 1

Richard Stark’s (Donald Westlake) classic anti-hero Parker is brought alive in this series of graphic novels by Darwyn Cooke. In the first volume, THE HUNTER, Parker is double-crossed by his wife and his partner. Once Parker tracks his wife down, she kills herself. Parker then seeks to exact his revenge, by hunting down his money, and the others who did him wrong.

THE OUTFIT – Vol 2

Parker is looking for jobs, but the Outfit is still looking for him. Parker realizes that even with a new face, he is going to be dogged by the Outfit until he finally puts an end to it. He sends out messages to everyone in the buisiness he knows, encouraging them to knock over any Outfit operations. As the mobsters are taking a beating in both personnel and the pocketbook, Parker is tracking down the one member of the Outfit who can’t seem to let this go.

THE SCORE – Vol 3

Parker is called in for a job—a job so big, it seems insane. A new guy, Edgars, has an entire town out in the Dakotas cased for knocking over. There’s only one way in or out of the town, and it calls for a big crew. But if they can pull it off, there’s a huge score for each man.

SLAYGROUND – Vol 4

A car heist goes bad when the wheelman loses control of the car in a snowstorm, and Parker finds himself trapped inside a closed-down amusement park. The local mafia happen to see his escape, and decide they would rather keep the bag of money Parker made off with. There’s only one way in and out, and it becomes a game of cat and mouse.

The illustrations of each of these volumes are amazing. Dark and shadowy, they perfectly reflect the tone of the novels and of Parker himself. Each volume is completely colored with one tone—THE HUNTER is all in shades of green, THE OUTFIT is shades of blue-violet, and THE SCORE is orange, SLAYLAND in blue—giving them a uniformity that is appealing while focusing attention on the story being told. Cooke has also done an outstanding job of capturing the feel of the 1960’s these novels are set in. I felt as though I had stepped back in time. The clothes, the hairstyles, cars, diners and roadside motels all feel perfectly suited to the period and to the story.

In lesser hands, this project may have fallen apart. But the stories stay true to the original Stark, using a beautiful blend of illustration and wording. Cooke avoided using too much verbal narrative—a trap that might have been easy to fall into with these novels. Instead there is a wonderful balance between written narrative and illustration. In fact, some pages have no words at all—the illustrations alone speak volumes. I think fans and newcomers to the series alike will fall in love with these adaptations. The only downside is that we have to wait until 2015 for the next installment.

Erica Ruth Neubauer