RICHARD PARKER: THE SCORE is the third volume in Darwyn Cooke's PARKER series based on the novels by Richard Stark, published by IDW. This third volume opens in a way very similar to its predecessors; it starts with a lot of action. Once again Parker is on a job, and someone is on his trail. What does he do in a situation like this? He kills the guys. Now, this is a pretty big book so I'm not giving away too much by letting on what happens within the first few pages of the issue. It opens with a bang and hooks the reader leaving him or her with a lot of questions. Who is after Parker? Why are they after him? What kind of job is he doing and what are each character's motivations, respectively?
It isn't often that I find myself being "okay" with a character getting killed off so early on in the series, but the way Cooke uses death in the opening of his book makes sense. That death leads our main protagonist to find out exactly what the real job is, and why. We find out that this isn't normally the kind of job Parker is into doing. He's the type of character we've always seen working alone; or with very few people -- and we find out why.Too many people involved leaves too many loose ends. Of all three books we've seen, "the job" we see in this issue is the biggest by far of any other -- and so is the prize.
Darwyn really captures the essence and the tone of what living life in the late 60's was like, and it goes well beyond his artistic interpretation of the characters, the setting and the times. Cooke has the language of the era down, and he knows Parker better than anyone. It's like reading James Bond, the comic book only better because Parker is far more rugged, dominating, and an even bigger badass. He's very much an 'act first, ask questions later' type of a guy. I think it's pretty neat the way that Cooke sets this up to read like an Oceans 11 type of book. We don't normally see him work with so many people (as I mentioned previously), but he does here. I think Cooke knows not to introduce a character into a story that isn't really necessary, either. For example, each new character that we will see working on this job is given his own small panel with his name underneath his image. It's perfect not only because it makes the multiple characters in the story easier to follow, but it's also great to see the way that Cooke captures the characteristics, the personality and the stance of each character based on an image. Paulus, for example, is this little guy who is a little bit reserved and timid, and you can totally get that just by looking at his picture.
The way Cooke presents the character, who is a little overweight in his mid-section, standing with both hands in both front pockets of his slacks signals to me that he's not the most confident fellow. Edgars, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of that; he's this staunch, overconfident, overweight leader of the pack who clearly looks like an amateur. With both hands on his hips he exudes overconfidence and idealism, and the broad grin and bushy brows only help to draw that characterization. It really goes to show that Cooke put a little bit more time into what he wanted these characters to look like and what kind of perception he wanted the reader to have. He made each supporting character in this story stand out by giving them very unique characteristics, and introducing them in a way that will make it easy for the reader to follow along and distinguish between who is who beyond the fact that they simply look different. They all have unique personalities.
Oh, and can I just say, I really love Grofield's character? when everyone else is serious, Grofield adds that little bit of spark and light to a drum and dreary group of men working out a heist. He's fantastic.
Even if it does read like Oceans 11, it is so much better than those series of films. It's entertaining, and lighthearted and fun. It's a fun, crime noir book to read, and it isn't nearly as dark as the previous Parker books. This one has a completely different tone.
Then there's the girl. In this case, it's Edgar's girl. You find out reading pretty quickly that she's nobody's girl but her own. and that she gets what she wants. And that Parker, even with his new face, is still as rugged and brash as he always was -- and that kind of demeanor can win almost any girl over. I think Cooke really manages to capture Parker's masculine sex appeal in a way that doesn't really exploit the woman in his story. He writes her dialogue according to the times -- the late 60's -- without sacrificing her sense of individuality and independence.
Like the last two volumes in Cooke's PARKER series, this volume is a work of art. There's something very different between reading a single issue comic book and reading Darwyn Cooke's PARKER. It's read in chapters, like a book, so it feels complete. You don't have to wait for the single issues to be released because the experience reading it as one collected volume is so worth it. The experience likens to watching a movie. It's a beautiful story and it's beautifully illustrated. The dialogue, the art and the detailed panel by panel is like seeing the storyboard for a film. I love this volume.
I think the way that the characters interact and the story unfolds is brilliant and not at all the way you would expect. When you first pick tis up you might say to yourself, "wow, that's a lot of yellow" because Cooke generally only uses black white and one color for the backdrop and for highlights. Yellow makes sense. This is probably the most lighthearted of all the PARKER books, and by utilizing a bright color like yellow, Cooke is really setting the mood of the story. It's brighter, livelier and not dark and dreary. I think the color yellow is a reflection of that tone.
There's so much more I could say about how wonderful this volume is, but frankly, I don't want to give any of the story away. In the end, it's brilliant. It' something I would proud to show off to anyone who comes over for coffee by leaving it out on my coffee table because it's more than a comic book, in my opinion. It's an art book. Everything from the way the art is executed and the dialogue is simply gorgeous. If you have a little extra cash this week, splurge a little and invest in this book.