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The Man With the Getaway Face

Posted by Luke Brown On July - 29 - 2010

Last year, Darwyn Cooke and IDW teamed to translate Richard Stark’s first Parker novel The Hunter into a graphic novel. Brilliantly capturing the essence of the character in a way that hadn’t been seen since the original novel was released, Cooke stayed true to Stark’s original vision, and brought Parker to life for a brand new generation. The Parker saga continues this October with Cooke’s adaptation of The Outfit, the third Parker novel chronologically. That doesn’t mean he’ll be skipping out on the second novel, The Man With the Getaway Face though. Instead of getting a full adaptation, Getaway Face will act as the opening chapter to The Outfit. As a bit of a teaser or “pre-print” as Cooke calls it, The Man With the Getaway Face was released as an oversized 24-page comic this past week. Condensing an entire novel into just a hair shy of twenty-five pages was no easy task I’m sure, but this brief adaptation not only shows just how talented Darwyn Cooke is, but it also serves as a reminder of how bad-ass Parker really is.

Written and Drawn by Darwyn Cooke

The original book picks up a short time after the conclusion of The Hunter, as does this interpretation. While the book has a subplot dealing with the death of the plastic surgeon who performed Parker’s operation, Cooke’s version skips that portion entirely, choosing to focus solely on an armored car heist that makes up the bulk of the novel’s plot. It’s a wise decision, as the only action worth highlighting from the novel occurs during those sequences. Though there are a few minor elements involving the Outfit Parker ticks off in the first book, none of them matter enough that their absence impacts the narrative. There’s still a lot of ground to cover in a short time, despite all the cuts made, but Cooke hits every beat nearly perfectly, and you’re never left wondering how or why something happened. Parker’s a very blunt man, in his actions and his personality, and this opening chapter is just as quick to get to the point.

If there was a better artist than Darwyn Cooke to bring the world of 1963 America to life, I haven’t met him. For those of you who missed out on the first book in this series, you’ll be able to see just how firm a grasp Cooke has on the style and feel of the era from the Saul Bass-inspired opening sequence. While changing how your lead character looks in a novel after just one book isn’t really a big deal, doing so in a comic seems ludicrous. Cooke is able to completely change who Parker is, while at the same time keeping the core features of the character consistent. He’s not nearly as handsome as he was before, and now truly looks like the blunt instrument Stark envisioned him as from the start. I never doubted Cooke would be able to handle the change, but Stark wasn’t writing for the visual artist when he was creating these stories. To see how easily Cooke is able to adapt to the challenge shows just how talented an artist he really is. Slightly bigger (and cheaper) than your standard comic, the art on the page is a fairly close representation of page scale as originally drawn by Cooke, and you can really soak in the detail of his beautifully minimalist art.

Though this book is merely a glimpse of what awaits us when The Outfit arrives this October, The Man With the Getaway Face is certainly strong enough to stand on its own as a one-shot prequel. If I had to find one thing to complain about, it’s that the graphic novel won’t be this large when it comes out, which is truly a shame. As it stands, this issue does a great job of getting me excited for the completed book, and is definitely a great way to get people who may be unsure of dropping the full $25 on the upcoming hardcover. In between now and October, do yourself a favor and pick this and The Hunter up. You won’t regret it.

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