Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Darwyn Cooke created four graphic novels adapted from the works of Richard Stark (a pseudonym for writer Donald Westlake) featuring Parker, a career criminal. From the first volume, The Hunter, the accolades and awards began flowing and after the second adaptation The Outfit continued racking up appreciation, an oversized, slipcased collection soon followed. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition was designed by Cooke to resemble a 1960’s men’s magazine. It featured the first two stories in beautifully flowing sequence with supporting imagery and commentary that showcased the skill that went into creating them, along with period-appropriate typography, an in-depth interview with Darwyn Cooke and sketches, illustrations, design treatments, promotional and other images, plus an extra adaptation, ‘The 7eventh’.
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition – Last Call presents the remaining two novels The Score and Slayground in a companion oversized, slipcased edition. Just like the first collection, Last Call features sketches, illustrations and design treatments previously unpublished, including ten paintings created for an illustrated version of The Hunter that never happened. They show Cooke channeling the mid-century style of illustration great Robert McGiniss with gorgeous technique. This volume functions as a memorial to Darwyn Cooke who died from cancer in 2015, and he is remembered here in a round table talk with animator Bruce Timm, writer Ed Brubaker and editor Scott Dunbier who all knew Cooke personally and professionally for many years. As a bonus extra, Brubaker with his frequent collaborator artist Sean Phillips pays tribute to both Cooke and Richard Stark with a brand-new story ‘Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow’. This 17-page story using the same two-colour palette as Cooke’s own art is a quietly melancholy look at Parker’s occasional partner in crime, Alan Grofield working through one last connection to this person with whom he shared a way of life that few others would understand.
Sean Phillips designs this volume sympathetically, but the choice not to make the spine match the first Martini Edition is going to annoy everyone who would expect the two books to look like a set. If you liked the first book, you will want this one too. It’s a worthy final presentation for some of the best crime comics–best comics, period–of the last twenty years.