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Richard Stark's Parker, Vol. 2: The Outfit Hardcover – October 5, 2010
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The Outfit marks the second entry into Darwyn Cooke's graphic novel adaptations of Richard (Donald Westlake) Stark's Parker novels. And much like Cooke's original adaptation of The Hunter, The Outfit stands as yet another incredible accomplishment that continues to prove why Cooke is one of the premiere graphic storytellers in the comics medium.
Darwyn Cooke is a man who fully understands how integral art is to the comic making process. Few artists have the skill required to pull off what Cooke manages to do in The Outfit. Cooke can, and does, go pages without a single word balloon, narration or thought bubble. Instead, Cooke's artistic skill in capturing the nuances of facial expression and body language do a lot of the storytelling heavy lifting.
Cooke even incorporates numerous ingenious page layouts to build character backgrounds without resorting to unnecessary exposition. The Outfit is a graphic novel that you can hand to someone not well verse in the medium and show them what makes storytelling through the use of images and words so unique and special.
But there are a select few instances where Cooke's art comes off as relatively hard to follow. Because of Cooke's stylistic choice to be minimalistic with background dressing and color--The Outfit once again utilizes the two-tone color scheme first introduced in The Hunter--the action sequences can be tough to comprehend. Luckily, The Outfit is not the type of story riddled with shootouts and fist fights. Rather, it's more about the character interaction, playing right into Cooke's strengths as a storyteller.
So far I've only touched on the art of The Outfit, but I really don't want to undersell Cooke's script work here. The dialogue and narration of The Outfit is just as sharp as it was in The Hunter. But the real standout sections, script-wise, come in Book Three (of 4), where Parker reaches out to his network of con buddies and gets them to pull various scores on some the Outfit's criminal organizations. Not only do each of these heists sport wildly different page layouts, but the actual dialogue and narration detailing how each was pulled off is a refreshing style change midway through the book.
Surprisingly, even the seven-page prose entry detailing the heist of Club Cockatoo felt oddly fitting within the confines of a graphic novel. Cooke even adds a classy extra layer to this prose piece by giving the byline to Richard Stark. Consider me shocked that the highlight chapter of The Outfit is the one without a trace of Parker in its pages.
But it is worth noting; The Outfit is not a standalone, jumping on point for the Parker Graphic Novel series. This book references characters and plot threads set up in The Hunter while simultaneously moving them forward. Without first reading The Hunter you will be lost and confused with The Outfit. Maybe that can be considered a misstep by Cooke; failing to reach as wide an audience as possible on the merits of this story alone. But I don t think that was ever considered or intended. Cooke is staying true to Richard Stark's delivery of the original novels, The Outfit making up one part in a series. Therefore, The Outfit lacks a concrete beginning and end, acting more as a stepping stone heading towards the inevitable conclusion.
It should be perfectly clear that Cooke has near limitless respect for Richard Stark's original source material and has crafted a loving graphic novel tribute to it here with The Outfit, much like he did with The Hunter. Darwyn Cooke's Parker adaptations might be the best work of his long, prosperous career. They prove that he is capable of not only creating amazing original work (See also: DC: The New Frontier), but can also distill the core essence of someone else's masterstroke and adapt it to a new medium without any loss in translation. --Erik Norris -- Crave Online
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Top Customer Reviews
Parker is a very efficient crook. He is an independent, working for himself. He specializes in robberies (armored cars, jewelry, rare coins, etc.). He will kill when threatened or betrayed. When he kills he is remorseless and cold blooded. He own next to nothing and people he knows are just that, people he knows. He does not crave owning things nor the friendship of others. There is no sentimentality. When a fellow crook offers to help him out on a caper out of friendship for having been helped by Parker in the past, Parker notes this - it troubles him because it is seen as sign of weakness.
In this work, Parker is on the run from the syndicate after an earlier run in. Rather than hide away he takes the fight to the syndicate and goes after the head boss.
Darwyn Cooke continues his adaptation of the Parker novels. His earlier turn on "The Hunter" was terrific. He shows how the graphic novel format can capture the dynamism of the action and subtle shifts in tone and expression. He sticks close to the original material making only a few small changes - he compresses the plot from "The Man with the Getaway Face" and makes a tweak at the end. Parker personally goes to the crime boss Karns rather than using the middleman Quill.
Parker is easily Richard Stark/Donald Westlake's greatest creation. He is an unstoppable, super-efficient career criminal who plans his heists meticulously, selects the most useful members for his team, and has no compunction with killing - but only with no other choice left to him. Parker almost seems like a robot at times - he regards emotion as weakness, and looks upon any kind of extravagance as wasteful, an element that will end the person and send them to jail. And yet he's strangely likeable - or if not that, then fascinating to read as he pulls off daring heists so coolly.
Cooke incorporates different artistic styles to tell the stories of each of Parker's gang hitting the Outfit in different ways even including prose from the source novel to tell certain parts of the story. The styles change the pace of the book, slowing it down while the action ramps up so you've got time to enjoy what happens at just the right speed. It's a great balance.
Cooke's done Richard Stark/Donald Westlake proud by doing such a fantastic job in telling the tale of one of Parker's best adventures with style and panache that only someone as experienced and masterful a comics artist as Cooke could do. It's a great crime caper comic that's terrific fun to read. More, please!
One of the ways that Cooke accomplishes this effect is with little mini-heist vignettes that range in presentation from faux a pulp crime magazine article to a newspaper style cartoon comic strip. The way that Cooke breaks up the awesomeness and brooding that is Parker's revenge on his former employers really kept me engaged.
I feel like "Parker"...like Cooke's previous work with DC comics in "Justice League: New Frontier"... truly elevates the graphic novel to a level of storytelling where anyone can be absolutely thrilled with the story even if it isn't their kind of thing. Cooke brings a fresh coolness and "savoir-faire" that not even the 1960's could grant this iconic anti-hero.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's Darwyn Cooke, how could you go wrong?
The cartooning style flows with the story that very few comic books can match. Read more
This book continues Darwn Cookes translation of Richard Starks character "Parker". The Outfit continues where "The Hunter" left off and these stories are AWESOME! Read morePublished 1 month ago by J Michmerhuizen
Too bad we can't get film adaptations of this caliber. What say we let Cooke do animated films based on these?Published 14 months ago by Bradley C. West
Darwyn Cooke has proven that you can draw in a "cartoony" style and still do "grim and gritty" storiesPublished 17 months ago by Lazarus
Cooke understands the character and does the impossible; adds even more worth experiencing. Darwyn is a mad genius who makes it look effortless. It's a love /hate thing.Published on January 16, 2014 by Amazon Customer
Graphical, lyrical hard-boiled straightforward storytelling. But lots of fun and lots of twists. I just love the way darwyn Cooke draws and Richard Starke (aka -- I won't tell... Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by Amazon Customer
As you can see from my other reviews I am a fan of the Parker novels and based on that I purchased this book. I had never heard of Darwyn Cook before I purchased this. Read morePublished on August 3, 2013 by LA Guy
Excellent, one sit read. Unlike The Hunter which was perfectly imbalanced for my taste - The Outfit is wordier. Read morePublished on June 9, 2013 by Dan
Have all the Stark books and just had to get these as they are sort of new. Based on the books but with drawings that capture the feeling of Parker pretty well.Published on April 2, 2013 by Amazon Customer