Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground

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Richard Stark's Parker: SlaygroundRichard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke
Format: Graphic Novel
Illustrated by: Darwyn Cooke
Series: Parker #4
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Published: 2013
Length: 96 pages

I read the first three of these a few years ago, but I never got around to this final volume. Darwyn Cooke sadly passed away last month, in this year of startling deaths, which gave me an unfortunate reminder to pick it up.

This volume is certainly a contrast to the last Parker book, The Score, in which Parker and his team planned a heist to rob an entire town. It had a complicated Ocean’s Eleven feel to it. This is a much simpler story, which is evident as soon as you get your hands on the physical book, as it’s about half the size of the first three.

Slayground

Parker and two of his associates rob an armoured truck but crash on the icy roads during the getaway. Parker takes the cash and escapes into a nearby amusement park, which has been closed for the winter. Two corrupt cops, with mob connections, see him retreat and decide to find him, kill him, and take the cash for themselves. It then turns into a game of stealth as Parker tries to escape while using rigged amusement park attractions to thwart his attackers. It’s a set piece that has been used many, many times, particularly in children’s movies and horror novels. I remember stories like this from reading R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike novels as a kid. This is adapted from Donald E. Westlake’s 1971 novel of the same name, so it was probably a more original concept at the time.

It may not have the depth of the previous volumes, but it’s still good fun. You get to see Parker set traps and ready himself, and even though the second half of the story is fairly predictable, it’s still very satisfying, and conjures that Home Alone nostalgic feeling, to see it all play out. Cooke’s illustrations and use of two-tone colour is always a joy flip through as well.

This is a fun series, and I’m sad to see it end. I might have a look up some of the work he did for DC and Marvel as well.

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