Thursday, April 23, 2020

Big Trouble in Little China #1 (2014) Review

Challenge Accepted

Written by: Eric Powell
Art by: Brian Churilla, Michael Garland and Ed Dukeshire
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 4, 2014
Publisher: Boom! Studios

It's Monday and that means that I get to review whatever I choose and I am going with a retro feel today, starting with Big Trouble in Little China.  I have probably only watched the movie five or six times, but I can say that the first time was in the theater.  I loved it right away for it's mix of over-the-top action, kung-fu and mysticism, but after seeing it, it kind of just faded in with all of the other movies...wedged somewhere between Gung Ho and The Golden Child.  I really didn't hear a whole lot of people talking about it until the mid 90's when youngsters like Eric Shea grabbed ahold of it and made it into the cult classic it is today.  With all the 80's revivals, I'm shocked that there hasn't been a sequel yet (Eric's "Big Trouble in the Big Easy" doesn't count...or does it?), but that's where this comic comes in.  The story is a collaboration between Eric Powell and John Carpenter and that should be enough for fans to get excited and jump right in.  It was for me and here is what I thought...

This is a sequel to the movie.  It's obvious right away as we see Lo Pan's demon hanging on to the Pork Chop Express as it barrels down the highway in the driving rain.  Of course, Jack is dispensing his half narration/half philosophy in the CB radio when he notices the demon (a big, hairy gorilla-like thing with huge fangs) which sends them off the road and into another adventure.

I said it was obvious that this is a sequel and it's also obvious that this is not a jumping on point for the uninitiated.  There is little to no recap whatsoever with Powell just throwing readers right into the story which is great for fans that have seen the movie multiple times already.

After realizing that the demon is actually friendly (he names him "Pete"), Jack does the only thing he can think of and heads back to San Francisco to find Wang and Egg.  Sticking with the whole "happens right after the movie" theme, Jack shows up at Wang and Miao's wedding just in time to enjoy the ceremony and find out what's up with Pete.  Egg tells Jack that by killing Lo Pan, the demon is now bound to Jack which is fine with me as it gives Jack someone to tell stories the one he immediatley tells about Mrs. Burton number two.

I hope that Powell continues exploring Jack's past because this was my favorite part of the issue. Jack's  half-truth bravado is spot on and it all comes together in a hilarious story of a marriage gone horribly wrong.  It also stresses that no matter what, Jack always finds himself in the wrong situation at the worst possible time...which happens to him once again.

Everyone reading the comic had to be waiting for the wedding to be crashed, right?  I know I was and I was not disappointed.  Followers of Lo Pan make a grand entrance looking for revenge and give Jack an ultimatum...retrieve the Spirits of the Three Storms at the end of the Black Road in the Hell of the Seven-Faced Widow or everyone dies.  Of course, Jack looks that sucker square in the...he agrees and I can't wait to see him, Pete and the Pork Chop Express hit the road next issue.

I really had fun reading this comic.  Eric Powell grabs the spirit of the movie and most importantly, Jack Burton.  I was afraid that the dialogue would be exaggerated to the point of silliness, but that's not the case at all.  It's pretty much spot on and had me chuckling throughout.  Plus, the story progression made total sense and gets the gang together in a way that didn't seem forced at all.

Brian Churilla's art was good as far as the character models go, but really lacked detail, especially when the backgrounds were concerned.  It's a very cartoony take that matches the goofiness of the source material, but personally, I would have prefered something a bit more realistic.  I am guessing that the style will pay off more as the story heads off to more fantastical locales, but that's something yet to be seen.

Bits and Pieces:

Big Trouble in Little China #1 is a really good trip back to the franchise for fans of the movie, but because of that, is not a great jumping on point for curious newcomers.  The story (co-written by John Carpenter) picks up right after the movie and Eric Powell makes sure everything else fits right in. His characterization of Jack Burton is spot on and the story leads to what can only be a whole bunch of fun.


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