I don’t know many comics that actually smolder. Beginning with the cover of Parker: The Man With The Getaway Face, as we barely see Parker’s eyes between the bandages on his face that he’s tearing off, his eyes burn through everything in their path. The Man With the Getaway Face, a bridge between 2009’s Parker: The Hunter and this October’s Parker: The Outfit, shows Parker’s first heist after getting a new face and getting on with his old routine. It may be a new face but Cooke easily creates the same character through Parker’s eyes, always cold and hard, studying everything and everyone around him, looking through everything to find out how they’ll cheat him or screw him over. There’s no love or even hate in those eyes, but a hardness and drive to never stop moving forward.
Cooke’s first Parker adaptation, based off of the Richard Stark book The Hunter, felt just like that; an adaptation. In comics, as well and in almost every other media, we’ve seen many adaptations that end up being too loyal to the original source, too much in love with the original material to be able to translate it well to a new medium. I haven’t read Richard Stark’s original Parker novels but I wonder how much Cooke fell into that same trap, trying to put everything from the original novel into his comic adaptation of it. Flipping through The Hunter, there are pages where the narration and dialogue fill the page, not giving Cooke much room left to visually tell the story. Of course on the flipside, there are remarkably sparse pages, where Cooke shows you everything rather than telling you. The Hunter, while occasionally falling into the pitfalls that many adaptations do, easily succeeded more than it failed.
In The Man With The Getaway Face, Cooke doesn’t fall into any heavy exposition like he did occasionally with The Hunter. The new book is only 24 pages long so Cooke has to make the best use of the pages he has. The story Cooke is telling here is also much more focused; he’s telling a simple heist story as Parker and cohorts plan to steal an armored truck full of money from a diner parking lot. Without the baggage of Parker’s screwed up life and his attempts at revenge, The Man With the Getaway Face is a much more adventurous story than The Hunter was. It’s about the heist without the personal ramifications for Parker. From the brief introduction Cooke writes in this book, I guess those ramifications will be seen in October’s The Outfit.
The Man With the Getaway Face may be much shorter than The Hunter but it’s also a much denser story. With the larger sized paper (even larger than a standard comic book page,) Cooke packs more story into each page, regularly using more panels per page here than he did in The Hunter. That creates a short story that flows well; it flows quickly and feels paced to keep the reader in the heist with Parker. Cooke’s cartoon-like style creates an instantly classic look to it; you just know from how the book looks that this is an older story full of archetypes and classic characters.
The great thing that Cooke really achieves with this story is the intensity and force of his main character. You saw some of that in The Hunter but that longer story had its own ebb and flow. This short story doesn’t have the time to ebb at all. The momentum in The Man With The Getaway Face begins with the subtle action on the first page, a man getting his bandages taken off, and builds with each page up to the heist and Parker’s smoldering drive constantly driving the story forward.
The Man With the Getaway Face is a teaser for the upcoming Parker: The Outfit but it’s a wonderful teaser. This book highlights Cooke’s storytelling, giving him a leaner and tighter story than the first Parker book while playing to Cooke’s own classic cartooning style. Cooke has told stories featuring everyone from DC’s Catwoman to Will Eisner’s Spirit and even to Marvel’s X-Statix characters but in Parker, he’s found a character in Parker who matches his own storytelling intensity.