Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit

Richard Stark's Parker - The-OutfitSummary: After he evens the score with those who betrayed him and recovers the money he was cheated out of from the syndicate, Parker is riding high, living in swank hotels and enjoying the finer things in life again. Until, that is, he’s fingered by a squealer who rats him out to The Outfit for the price they put on his head… and they find out too late that if you push Parker, it better be all the way into the grave!

Darwyn Cooke, multiple Eisner-Award winning creator of such works as DC: The New Frontier and Selina’s Big Score, now follows up The Hunter with the forthcoming release of The Outfit, the second of four planned adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker novels

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The Outfit, by Richard Stark and Darwyn Cooke 8.0

‘The Outfit’ is the second Darwyn Cooke adaptation of Richard Stark’s Parker novels. Interestingly, seeing as this story is a direct follow-up to the previous one, ‘The Hunter‘, this is the third novel in Stark’s original series.

Now, I haven’t read any of Stark’s novels, but the second one, ‘The Man with the Getaway Face’ is not especially missed here – its events are referred to briefly (as they may well have been by Stark in his novel) and it suffices.

In this book, Parker has undergone plastic surgery to erase all traces of his former self, so that the Outfit can forget about him. Unfortunately, he discovers that they’re still out to get him, after a former colleague discloses his location.

Parker isn’t too happy about it. After ensuring that Skim never squeals again, he sends a message to the Outfit – by getting a few of his former partners to hit the organisation from every possible angle. This costs the Outfit a fortune.

But that doesn’t seem to be enough, so Parker pulls one more trick from his sleeve…

When I started reading ‘The Outfit’ again (I’d read it years ago), I thought it was good, but it didn’t quite grab me as intensely as the previous one had; it was missing Parker’s insane determination, that which I loved most about him.

However, after a little while, when he decided to coordinate the multiple hits on the Outfit, it finally surged forth again – and so did my enthusiasm. This and the fact that many of the thefts were described in detail captivated me.

What helped was that Cooke decided to deliver each of them (aside for Parker’s own) in a completely distinct style: One of them was all text with scant graphics, another was more cartoony, another more visual, …etc. It really peppered the pot.

And the fact is, Cooke is a superb graphic artist: in each case he delivered a splendid layout that was fun to look at and read, and he condensed the heists just right. So you basically got all sorts of eye candy from the midpoint on.

And then the book ended with a superb showdown that resolves a lot of issues for Parker – followed by final pages where he reiterates his point extremely clearly to the new head of the Outfit. Ouch. Our guy’s really not to be messed with!

So, all told, even though I started off wondering why I’d been impressed with this book the first time around, it made up for it in spades later on. I finished the book craving more of Cooke’s Richard Stark’s Parker than I did after ‘The Hunter’.

It’s a damned shame that there are only two more.

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