Never having read Richard Stark's Parker series, I picked up Darwyn Cooke's graphic novel adaptations. The stories themselves were awesome but what had originally grabbed me was Cooke's unique style. When I finished, I was salivating for more. Imagine how happy I was to find out he did a few runs within the Batman universe!
Contained in this compilation are six stories, five of which follow the actions of the Dark Knight while one is devoted to Catwoman. While I'm not that big of a Catwoman fan, his run with that character is easily the best of the bunch.
Batman: EGO - Cooke's signature artwork took center stage this time around while the writing left more to be desired. The idea of a conversation between Bruce Wayne and Batman was an interesting premise indeed but the presentation of Batman as this murderous presence seemed off.
Batman Black & White: Here There Be Monsters - In terms of visuals, this is easily the standout offering. I need to read more of this series! The artwork here is beautiful with blacks, whites and greys presenting the story.
Catwoman: Selina's Big Score - Taking up the bulk of this issue, we follow Selina as she seemingly returns from the dead. Having been M.I.A since fleeing to Morocco trying to capture an elusive artifact, Selina returns to Gotham to participate in an ambitious crime; steal roughly $24 million from the mob.
We're also introduced to a character named "Stark", who Cooke admits was influenced heavily by Donald Westlake's Parker. He even introduces him via a plot similar to The Hunter!
Cooke crafts a pretty compelling story here that not only has a great caper but also dabbles in the beginnings of Catwoman.
Batman Black & White: The Monument - Despite my ravings about how beautiful the black and white dynamic was earlier, this is the worst of the bunch. Cooke is strictly a writer here and the story is drawn by Bill Wray. I really found the style here unappealing and the story was nothing to write home about.
Batman: Date Night - Breaking up a crime by Catwoman, Batman ends up in a series of locations that supported by running dialouge by Catwoman, is about as close as Batman can come to going on a date. With artwork presented by one of my favorite Batman artists, Tim Sale, Cooke gives us an entertaining vision of the on again off again romantic tension between the two iconic characters.
Batman: Deja Vu - Inspired by the 70s classic Batman tale, "Night of the Stalker", Cooke gives us a story in which Batman gives us zero dialouge. Nicely drawn and a pretty cool story, Cooke finishes this book strong.
Overall, I liked this but didn't love it. While Cooke's artwork is always slick his writing can be pretty hit or miss.