Saturday, January 14, 2012

Richard Stark's Parker Book Two: The Outfit

Written by Donald Westlake
Adapted by Darwyn Cooke

When I started reading The Outfit, the second of Darwyn Cooke's adaptations of Richard Stark's (really Donald Westlake's) crime novels, I couldn't for the life of me remember what happened in the first one, The Hunter.  I remember enjoying Cooke's work, but storywise, nothing stayed with me.

Reading this volume, I can see why.  Westlake's stories are pretty effervescent.  This one is about Parker wanting to take on The Outfit - a mob-like group of career criminals who run large swaths of gambling and prostitution houses.  The man running The Outfit has beef with Parker, who has had surgery to change his appearance, and Parker is looking for payback.  Or something like that.

Truthfully, I'm reading this book for Cooke's wonderful artwork; the story is secondary.  Cooke loves that late 50s/early 60s period, as we learned with The New Frontier, his love letter to the early days of DC comics.  The sense of design and iconography used in this book is terrific, and Cooke has a good sense of the correct pace to use in adapting Westlake's writing.

The best parts of this book have Parker or his friends planning and carrying out various heists and robberies of Outfit businesses.  Cooke uses a variety of styles for these pages, drawing some of them like newspaper comc strips, and presenting one in an 'illustrated novel' format.  The look of this book is where the fun is; the rest is pretty inconsequential.

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