Tripwire Reviews IDW’s Parker: The Martini Edition Vol.1 And Parker: The Martini Edition Vol.2: The Last Call By Darwyn Cooke

A Double Shot Of Noir

Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows takes a look at IDW’s two volume Parker: The Martini Edition…

Parker: The Martini Edition Vol.1
Writer/ Artist: Darwyn Cooke

Parker: The Martini Edition: Vol.2 Last Call
Writer/ Artist: Darwyn Cooke
with contributions by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips
IDW Publishing 

 

Darwyn Cooke’s career in comics only lasted for less than twenty years but his legacy continues to be massive. After years working in superhero comics for DC and Marvel, the last seven years of his career and sadly his life were taken up with adapting Donald Westlake’s Parker novels for comics. These two oversized slipcase hardcovers reprint Cooke’s adaptations of Westlake’s books but also include a lot of extra material as well.

The Martini Edition Vol.1 came out in December 2011, while the writer-artist was still with us. Clocking in at a very impressive 335 pages or so, we get oversized reprints of his adaptations of The Hunter, The Man With The Getaway Face and The Outfit as well as an interview that the late comics journalist Tom Spurgeon conducted with Cooke too which also features contributions from fellow modern comics noir writer and friend of Cooke’s Ed Brubaker.

There is a cinematic graphic simplicity to Cooke’s art that plays to the strengths of the comic form while also managing to subvert it as well. The oversized format here really adds to the drama of his work as does the duotone colour scheme for each story as well. There is a timeless starkness to Cooke’s lines which really lends each tale impact for the reader. Cooke also knows when to tell a scene without extraneous dialogue too and these are some of the most impressive pieces here. The Hunter which introduces us to protagonist Parker is a classic slice of hard boiled noir with him  battling against criminal endeavour The Outfit. 

The Man With The Getaway Face offers us a Parker short about a heist he signs up for while The Outfit is a tale which sees Parker once again up against the criminal organisation that wants him dead. The Seventh, the final tale, is even shorter than the Man With The Getaway Face but Cooke manages to pack a great deal into this 10 pager. 

The book wraps up with a portfolio of single page images created by Cooke which were inspired by the Parker films featuring the likes of Jack Palance, Lee Marvin and even Michael Caine. 

The Martini Edition Vol.1 is a gloriously lavish reproduction of Darwyn Cooke’s Parker adaptations, offering them in a format that really gives the stories room to breath.

Vol.2 gives us what acts as a tribute to Cooke who sadly died back in 2016, representing his adaptations of The Score and Slayground plus a new short story by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips featuring Westlake’s character Grofield and a roundtable between editor Scott Dunbier and Cooke’s friends Ed Brubaker and Bruce Time. The Score, about a heist that Parker is involved in that goes very pear-shaped, is another beautiful noir tale with Cooke’s use of duotone really creating impact for the reader while Slayground, about our protagonist trapped in ironically titled theme park Fun Island, really experiments  with the comic format. The Brubaker and Phillips short is a very sweet visual eulogy to Cooke, with Phillips adapting his art a little to mirror Cooke. The roundtable offers readers a little bit of insight into Cooke’s personality from his friends. The book closes with full page colour images from a series of planned fully illustrated Parker novels which unfortunately Cooke never got to complete.

Both of these books act as a celebration of Cooke, a creator who brought so much to comics in his short time in the industry. He cut his teeth as a comic artist drawing superheroes but with Parker, it really felt like his natural milieu as a creator. Inhabiting the world of duplicitous dames and the films of Steve McQueen and Robert Mitchum, Darwyn Cooke was the perfect creator to bring Westlake’s creation to life. Cooke loved comics and he loved the detective form as well, two things that are more than evident here throughout. It is very hard to really do justice to his work here in a short review but fans of comics and detective fiction should consider picking both of these volumes up. Cooke was a true original, versatile and with a unique warmth and passion to his work. Cooke’s Parker has a cinematic simplicity to it which belies the sheer force of will and effort underneath. We should raise a glass to this man who brought so much to the medium and editor Scott Dunbier has done a great job assembling both of these volumes.

JOEL MEADOWS

www.idwpublishing.com

The post Tripwire Reviews IDW’s Parker: The Martini Edition Vol.1 And Parker: The Martini Edition Vol.2: The Last Call By Darwyn Cooke appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.

A Double Shot Of Noir Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows takes a look at IDW’s two volume Parker: The Martini Edition… Parker: The Martini Edition Vol.1 Writer/ Artist: Darwyn Cooke Parker: The Martini Edition: Vol.2 Last Call Writer/ Artist: Darwyn Cooke with contributions by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips IDW Publishing    Darwyn Cooke’s career
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