Sunday, December 22, 2013

Parker: Slayground

 This is my first exposure to Richard Stark's legendary character Parker, and it's easy to see why such a fuss has been made over Darwyn Cooke's graphic novel adaptations of Stark's stories.

 This is bare-bones, stripped-down, all-meat-and-no-filler storytelling. Having never read any of Stark's PARKER novels, I can't say for sure, but I'm assuming that Darwyn Cooke, who handled the adaptation and illustration for PARKER: SLAYGROUND, has served up a faithful translation from novel to graphic novel.

 Stark/Cooke throw the reader right into the thick of things, with Parker taking part in an armored car robbery that goes bad, leaving one of his partners dead, and the other in critical condition. Parker takes the money and runs for his life, going to ground in a Buffalo, New York amusement park that's closed for the winter. He's observed by a couple of crooked cops as he breaks in, and he soon finds himself trapped as the cops and their mobster bosses close in, hoping to kill Parker and keep the armored car loot for themselves.

 Parker is a hardass in the truest sense of the word, and Slayground reads like a hard-boiled HOME ALONE, as he sets various deathtraps and snares around the amusement park. There's no time for anything extraneous here, and Cooke keeps the story racing along breathlessly as Parker and his enemies are propelled towards their bloody confrontation.

 I need to start reading a new series like I need a hole in the head, but this is good, strong stuff, and you can tell that Cooke is having a ball producing it....this is truly a labor of love on his part, and it shows.

 In addition to the adaptation of Slayground, the graphic novel also contains a bonus story, "THE 7TH", which adapts another Parker novel, and was previously available only in PARKER: THE MARTINI EDITION. Highly recommended.

 IDW provided a review copy.