(BOOM! Studios, 2014)
Story by John Carpenter and Eric Powell
Written by Eric Powell
Art by Brian Churilla
Colors by Michael Garland
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Pass me my parachute pants! Get me a bottle of Pepsi Clear! Eric Powell (The Goon) hauls us back to the 80’s by the headphone cord of a Sony Walkman, and drops us smack in the middle of another Jack Burton adventure.
If you don’t remember the 1986 cult classic Big Trouble In Little China, then this is a good jumping on point. Although this current iteration is a continuation of the original story, it is also separate, introducing some new characters along with the old, and all of the back-story you need is contained herein.
Jack Burton is a long-haul truck driver who has recently tossed hit lot in with a Chinese mystic named Egg in a battle to save the Earth from an ancient demon. (That was the film.) Upon leaving he finds that he has inherited an ancient demon he has named Pete, who owes him a life debt. (We’re in the comic now.) He tries to return the demon and finds that one of his allies, Wang Chi, has been captured at his wedding by another ancient, a demonic warlord, who demands that Jack take his beloved Pork Chop Express on the Midnight Road to retrieve jars that are filled with the souls the warlords’ brothers, who were imprisoned there for practicing black magic. (Whew. Long, expository sentences make me sleepy.)
Jack accepts the challenge, and with Egg and Pete, ventures onto the mystical Midnight Road in search of the jars, held at the house of the Seven-faced Widow. Along the way he meets a terrapin-riding ancient and earns the enmity of martial arts monkeys. How could I sell this any more than that?
Carpenter and Powell have successfully transferred the feel of the film, the campy humor and mysticism that made the original so much fun. Films and comics like this are the seeds of a certain style that Sam Raimi did with the second Evil Dead film and the Army of Darkness.
They art in this, provided by Brian Churilla (The Anchor, We Kill Monsters), does a great deal in helping to set the tone of the book. It takes that campy feel of the film and uses it to great affect. The caricaturist nature of the drawings, just a little modified in facial structure, accentuation of the famous Kurt Russell jawbone, makes it fun to look at, sometimes feeling like a MAD magazine story rather than a full-length comic. It’s an easy, fun read.
There’s not much else to say about Big Trouble in Little China. If you dug the movie, you’ll dig the book. Powell is obviously a fan, and with the guiding hand of John Carpenter in the project, you know it’ll be 80’s adventure/horror good. With Churilla drawing the crazy things that are happening you feel yourself drawn back in time, (cue Huey Lewis…oops wrong film) to a place where your ‘Roos sneakers were the hottest thing going, and you couldn’t wait to see what that Frank Miller guy was going to do with his own Batman book.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.