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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on July 18, 2012
Parker is not a widespread cultural icon, but to those who love crime fiction he is paramount. Stark's books are some of the best in the genre ( I read all of them in one year). I was so starved for more I even read the Grofield novel offshoots. Cooke, however, has really brought to life the visual elements from these books, something all film adaptations have failed at. Hollywood wants to change Parker and make him what he is not: He is a criminal and there's nothing nice about it. The Score captures all the brutality of the character, and doesn't gloss over the details or try to add superfluous characters or trendy modern plot developements to the story. Cooke masterfully paints this graphic novel in the style of the times -- the early 60s. Cooke knows his subject and chooses the right imagery to extract. His light and shadow touch lightly on noir, but he doesn't submerge the reader in darkness. In this novel especially, he allows Parker to fully realized.
If you are a graphic novel fan, this should appeal to you, mainly those who enjoy Frank Miller. Unlike many novel-to-graphic novel adaptations, Cooke doesn't force too much text upon the reader. He pulls enough from the book and lets the story live through his brush strokes. The book had some delay coming out (first scheduled for May, then June and now finally out in July), but it was well worth the wait. We can only hope he will continue this work.
England may have Bond, with all of his cheesy romanticism and judo chops, but America has Parker, a true reflection of the country -- brutal, industrious, intelligent and relentlessly confident.
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on January 21, 2016
This Parker book by Darwyn Cooke continues his amazing retelling of Richard Stark's Parker, everything from the art to the story and characters in these books are nearly perfect for me. This particular book tells the story of how Parker and a crew plan to box in and rob an entire town when they'll be flush with money on a particular night. Of course nothing goes exactly as planned (would make it pretty boring) and how Parker reacts and leads is everything. If you have read any of the other Parker books by Darwyn Cooke and liked them, then this is one I would highly recommend, if you haven't then I recommend you read them all (four books in all), including this one, as each book is great.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
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on July 19, 2012
Richard Stark was arguably the most succesful author of crime-noir novels of all time, but for a younger generation they would most likely know of his influences only through screenplays and movie adaptations (i.e., "The Grifters",and "Payback", with Mel Gibson).

Thanks to retro-noir graphic artist Darwyn Cooke, he is most recently re-emerging through graphic novels, with this latest effort being the third such installment. That Cooke's accompanying artistry isn't overshadowed by the gravitas of Stark's stories is truly a testament to just how talented Cooke is. Rarely has there been a more perfect pairing between literary and picture-based story telling to create one seamless package.

For those familiar with Cooke's other two works(Book One: The Hunter, and Book Two: The Outfit), and looking for more, they're not going to be disappointed. OK, maybe just a little disappointed, in that I think both previous efforts were stronger stories, and a little less formulaic. But both Starke and Cooke are also victims of their own success, and its hard to win the World Series every day. For those who like Cooke's visual atmospheric style of a hard luck, tough as nails 1960's noir world you really can't get that fix anywhere else, and most of us have been jonesing now for almost 2 years.

The one major change in the book is the use of coloring. While Hunter and Outfit were mostly tone on tone with atmospheric blues, the Score is instead toned in orange. Sometimes bright orange. Sometimes a LOT of bright orange. In many ways this works, as the Score is hued primarilly to the story's two major themes, the coppery tones of the desert and the fiery action in the city's streets. But sometimes it can almost be visually fatiguing, and the orange might have been better purposed for only certain scenes or chapters. In any event, sometimes I missed the old blues, but I'm sure Cooke is doing his best between giving us what we want and making sure he doesn't get bored with the same 'ol same 'ol. If push comes to shove, I'd rather keep him creative and productive.

Most of what you need to know plotwise you can get from the book description above, there is little reason to give you the cliffs notes here or give away any surprises. If you haven't been exposed to Parker before, he's not a nice guy, and you really shouldn't call him even a "dark hero" or an "anti hero". He's a charismatic thug, and nothing more, and if he does anything noble it's probably because you just haven't seen the angle yet. If you've watched Mel Gibson in the original "Payback", and then compared it to "Payback - the Director's Cut", you'll know what I mean. The only reason you may root for the guy is because the guys he goes up against are frequently even worse.

Bottom line, this is an easy pick-up for previous fans, and even though this is labeled as "Book Three", any newcomer would have no problem starting off with it as a standalone story. With that said, I do like the others slightly better, and there certainly is no reason not to start with "The Hunter" and work your way to here. Cooke says "Parker will be back" in 2013, so you might as well smoke through this one now.
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on July 13, 2012
I'm a huge fan of Darwyn Cooke's work on these Parker graphic novels. They are so stylish and cool, but they are also very compelling stories. This is his third adaptation of the Richard Stark novels, and while you don't need to read the previous two to enjoy this one, I would highly recommend that you do. So here's the story: Parker is our protagonist, but he's definitely not a hero. He's a cold, ruthless thief who would just as soon kill you as look at you. Naturally, he's a perfect fit for this kind of story. The year is 1964, and Parker spends his time living in Miami when he's not doing a job. One day, he gets a call from a fellow that he worked with in the past. It's about a job. The "job" in question is Copper Canyon, a small mining town in North Dakota. Yes, the plan is to rob the entire town! Right off the bat, several things don't jive with Parker. For one; the guy who put the heist together is an amateur who has personal reasons for wanting to rob the town. The other thing is that it will require a dozen men to pull off the job. Parker is ready to cut his losses and leave, but he becomes so impressed by the sheer audacity and scope of the job that he believes it's crazy enough to work. From here the story starts to sound a bit like Ocean's 11, but it's not as flashy and cocky. Parker and his crew are true professionals who plan everything out to the last detail. Naturally, this story wouldn't be as compelling if something didn't go wrong, and boy does it ever! I was totally enthralled by this book, and finished it in about 40 minutes. It was a real page turner. As I said before, Cooke is an amazing storyteller. He worked in animation for years before switching to comic books. His art style is very retro-cool, which makes it a perfect fit for these stories since they're set in the sixties. You can tell these books are a real labor of love for him, and that is why I highly recommend it because if you love a good crime story, then you can't get much better than this. The only complaint I have about this book is that we have to wait until 2013 for the next Parker story.
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on July 17, 2012
"The Score" is another solid entry into the world of Richard Stark's Parker. What it lacks in originality is made up in the form of top-notch graphic novel storytelling that only Darwyn Cooke can provide. When it comes to Cooke, Parker is the first thing that comes to my mind; his amazing visual story-telling ability combined with his animated style allows readers to fully immerse themselves within Cooke's pages, and of course, the world of Parker.

Completely unrelated to the earlier entries, hard-nosed conman Parker comes across an opportunity that involves robbing an entire town. However, it's a heist he's never done before that requires an uncomfortably large group, and on top of all that, he holds some reservations about some of the crew members. But it's Parker, he loves what he does and he loves his money so accepts the offer.

I do have to say if this was my introduction to Parker, I'm not sure how compelled I would be to check out the other books. It doesn't have quite the flair and style Richard Stark's Parker, Vol. 1: The Hunter did and unlike Richard Stark's Parker, Vol. 2: The Outfit, the plot is much more standard and streamlined. "The Score" is the lightest read of the series that can be easily blown through in one sitting. Of course, it is Cooke's mastery of the graphic novel that keeps readers frantically turning the pages. Yes, I'm sure you've seen a similar story to this in another book or movie somewhere, but Cooke's work kept the tale compelling enough for me to want to know about what's going to happen next.

Current Parker fans should eat this one up and have them begging for more. It's the same raw goodness Parker has been providing and although it may not be an groundbreaking experience, it certainly isn't a slouch. General crime junkies might find something enjoyable here but I strongly recommend those new to the series to first check out "The Hunter" and form an opinion from there on.

"The Score" is not spectacular, but a good, good tale from beginning to end.
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on August 6, 2012
Darwyn Cooke is one of the best things happening in comics today. His take on the new Before Watchmen series - The Minutemen, as well as Catwoman, and the first two `Parker' novels are nothing short of brilliant! That's why it pains me to say that the Score is good, but not great.

To be fair, I don't think this is Cooke's fault. His two-color, noir artwork is glorious again. But the story itself is a bit ponderous. With a 12-man team, and five or six locals, and five or six others, there are simply too many characters. The Hunter moved at a brisk pace, in part because of the smallish world it inhabited. In `The Score' the voluminous characters bogs things down, and this is true of the original novel as well. Not enough time is afforded to the Edgars character, for example, to make much of an impact before the conclusion.

That being said, this is still on a higher level than quite a bit of what's coming out today. If you don't already have the first two, I suggest you get `Parker: The Martini Edition' instead. It has the first two graphic novels - The Hunter and The Outfit, and also the in-between, stand-alone story The Man With the Getaway Face.
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on February 3, 2016
The Richard Starks "Parker Series" by Darwyn Cooke are SOOO great that at this point I'm just going to talk about how WELL the book is put together (at this point, you should be ALL IN for Cookes Parker stories) I noticed as I am reading this 3rd book (start with the 1st book - by the way) that I constantly thought I had pages stuck together (like a book that has just been trimmed) then I realized that no, they are NOT stuck together - the pages were just that heavy! NICE! Thats a sign of GREAT production. And that, in turn, lets the pages hold more ink & the rich color values are only made MORE prominent by how Cooke uses only TWO colors through the entire book! (black + one)

A Great Great Series. I cannot recommend these books enough.
As I read it, Parker reminds me of what would be the a perfect Steve McQueen vehicle.
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VINE VOICEon August 31, 2012
As other reviewers have pointed out, this Parker novel adaptation is not as sophisticated as the previous two. The Outfit was by far the champion of the bunch in terms of complex storytelling, but this one is no slouch. Like its predecessors in the series, The Score mixes slick retro artwork with fantastic storyboarding and pacing to create a well-spun tale worth reading multiple times. Yeah, so the colors are orange, black, and more orange, but it works given the desolation of the story's backdrop.

This one does have something the other two didn't: the best use of negative space ever shown (see the 112-113 spread). Sorry Frank, but Darwyn's holding the trump card here.

I compare this book to the previous two only with a sense of unease. For despite my comparisons between the books in this series, there are no comparisons with those outside of it. Any comic by any other artist or artistic team pales in comparison to what you get here. Darwyn's work is finer than the finest single malt scotch and he can spin a novel into a comic better than anyone. The Parker series inspired me to read and reread both classic and contemporary crime comics and I felt no greater sense of fulfillment than if I had eaten a buffet of cotton candy. The storytelling, character development, pacing, and cinematic feel of Darwyn's Parker blows away anything even close to the same category. I only hope he decides to adapt some Jim Thompson novels, but until then, I'm happy to take Parker whenever he is willing to dish it out.

Bring it on, Darwyn.
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on July 25, 2014
Darwyn Cooke's Parker graphic novels are beautiful exercises in style, like the great noir film series we never had. THE SCORE might be the finest book in the series: it's fleet, fun, and harrowing, with a great premise. Cooke's art and layouts have only improved as the series has gone on.
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on December 22, 2015
Darwyn Cooke has done a fine job adapting Donald Westlake’s THE SCORE, a Parker novel, to a comic book medium. There are a couple of nits to pick 1. On page 134 Cooke says Parker & Co. threw the coins from the heist into the river. But Westlake made it clear that the thieves never brought the change with them. Too bulky and even in 1964 change didn’t buy much. 2 On pages 132-33 Cooke shows us Paulus driving his car off the edge of the road. But he’s reversed the direction, so he can show Paulus trying to jump out of the car as it goes over the edge. Westlake made it clear that Paulus couldn’t have jumped because the driver’s side was the one facing the edge. Cooke knew this, as the illustration on page 67 shows.
Cooke’s illustrations are great. As has been pointed out, the two color illustrations perfectly capture the gritty atmosphere of the novel. Parker himself is the weakest part of the illustrations. Cooke makes him look ferocious, but Parker’s ability to intimidate has always been based on his size and his manner, not his facial expressions.
The weaknesses of this comic book are the weaknesses of the original novel. The scenes of Edgars and his girlfriend are completely irrelevant. They could be dropped from the novel with no loss. They were put in because Westlake felt he had to maintain the pulp shtick he had given Parker throughout the series: Parker is uninterested in women and sex while he’s working, but turns into a satyr when the job is through. It may have seemed daring in the 1960s when Westlake was writing THE SCORE, but now it just seems contrived and silly.
But the real fault in novel and adaptation is what Westlake has Alan Grofield do: while keeping the telephone operators secure during the robbery, Grofield falls for one of them, lets her see his face, has sex with her, and brings her along in the getaway. Incredibly, Parker & Co. go along with this after some back and forth between between Grofield and the girl and Parker. The girl could identify all the other members of the gang, yet they go along with Grofield’s stunt. When Paulus makes his attempt to leave the hideout early, one of the gang says “I’ll never work with him again.” Yet Grofield gets a pass. How much more realistic if Parker and the gang had killed both the girl and Grofield on arriving at the hideout. I don’t understand why Westlake did this, nor why his editors passed it at the time. Given the reputation Westlake is trying to equip Parker with, you’d think Grofield would be dead. But no, he comes back in two more Parker novels BUTCHER’S MOON and THE HANDLE, to say nothing of four other novels on his own without Parker (THE DAME, THE DAMSEL, THE BLACKBIRD and LEMONS NEVER LIE.) If you can swallow this, THE SCORE in novel and adaptation, is great. If not, you give it three stars, averaging the brilliant style and pace with this moronic plot twist.
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