Parker is a career criminal, he knows the rules, he knows the people and he knows when to say no, but when he is approached with a plan to rip off an entire town in a single night, the challenge outweighs his gut instincts.
Richard Stark’s Parker novels are beloved by fans of crime fiction, and so they should be, after all, they’re excellently written crime noir that features a central character who always deals with situations with the kind of cool we can only dream of and generally ends up with the woman… He’s the James Bond of criminals, but with less to say.
You may not know it but you’ve probably encountered the character before (albeit, perhaps, with a different name), first played by Lee Marvin in Point Blank and then by Mel Gibson in Payback, in the film adaptations of the first Parker novel, The Hunter.
Comicbook auteur, Darwyn Cooke, is certainly a big fan, as can be attested to by his long term mission to adapt the Parker books into a beautiful series of graphic novels. He has already adapted the first two books, The Hunter and The Outfit, and this years brings The Score, a high-concept story that revolves solely around a job, with no outside context, not unlike Ocean’s Eleven, only hard bitten.
Fans of Darwyn Cooke’s work or the previous Parker graphic novels, will know that excellence is standard with this guy, so a review is almost pointless, as it’s bound to be nothing short of glowing.
Cooke cut his teeth on the Batman animated show of the 90s and so has a drawing style derived from that the legendary Bruce Timm, only with a penchant and talent for portraying a 50s design ethic. Although critically making wakes, especially with his tour de force, DC: New frontier, it’s a sad fact that Cooke’s work has been largely underappreciated, a contemporary readership preferring flashier writing and artwork, but pretty much everyone in the know is fairly certain that he will be considered one of the greats.
He doesn’t let any of that hold him back tough, he does the projects he wants to do in the fashion he wants to do them. Kudos must go to the publisher IDW too, for letting Cooke do the Parker series in his own way. And what a beautiful way it is, they’re all but black and white but with each book utilising a different single colour to represent its shading (Orange in The Score’s case), and all with that 50s/60s cool previously mentioned, wrapped up in the classiest hardback format.
There isn’t much else to say, Parker: The Score is some of the best crime noir fiction has to offer, adapted by one of the best draftsmen and storytellers in the comicbook industry. It, like the previous two instalments, is a near flawless example the mature graphic novel.
B+ grade – for storytelling
A grade – for artwork
A grade – for design work
Overall grade – A-