Tuesday, March 22, 2016

CBR Big Trouble in Little China Vol. 1

Just remember what ol' Jack Burton always says when you're playing Texas Hold 'Em with some eight-foot-tall ancient sorcerer and your best pal's life is hanging in the balance... Brother, fold 'em if ya wanna, but I'm playin' this two and this four like a man! Who's with me?!.

Comic title: Big Trouble in Little China Volume 1: The Hell of the Midnight Road & The Ghosts of Storms
Written by John Carpenter & Eric Powell
Drawn by Brian Churilla

Published by BOOM! Studios 
From 2015
Lineup Big Trouble in Little China series
Format: Trade paperback collecting Big Trouble in Little China (2014) issues #1-4.

One of the greatest films ever made, turned into one of the most fun new comics in recent years.

If you visit these pages, chances are you're probably familiar with the film Big Trouble in Little China. A cult little movie that always stood apart in the middle of director John Carpenter's rich and interesting filmography. Despite being a huge flop at the box office at the time of its release in 1986, the movie proved to become a huge fan favorite. It's a fun campy B-movie tribute to old school martial arts/fantasy films, a genre long forgotten.

Yet it is now considered an all-time cult favorite.

The film even spawned a few odd tie-in products over the year despite its relative obscurity, including a couple of 8-bit games back in the 80s as well as this comic book series pictured here above.

A first BTiLC comic had been announced at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. Originally Top Cow Productions was said to publish said book, they even showed a handful of previews for the upcoming comic, but it was kept silently on the side and after a while no further announcements for the project were ever made. This series would have been written by Evan Bleiweiss and pencilled by Jason Badower.

Sadly, with no news regarding this comic it seemed the dream of a Big Trouble in Little China comic was no more...

Thankfully, we actually finally got a comic out of the film!

Surprising everyone with this announcement in February 2014, it was said BOOM! Studios would now be the ones to publish a comic book based around the propriety.

This limited on-going series was to revolve around 4-issues story arcs. The comic book is written by noneother than the creator of The Goon, Eric Powell with John Carpenter himself, with art from Brian Churilla.

The series was finally launched in June 2014. The comic sees the return of Kurt Russell as our mullet-haired white tank top-wearing 1980s truck driver hero in an all-new adventure!

My favorite part about this comic is that it picks up immediately where the movie left.

We see our hero Jack Burton leaving town as we saw him at the end of the film, into the sunset... when suddenly some kind of ape monster is seen climbing onto his Pork Chop Express truck!!

But don't worry, ol' Jack Burton ends up befriending the monkey-monster, now left without a master after Jack helped his pal Wang Chi save his bride from the clutches of the evil sorcerer Lo Pan in the movie. Jack names the creature "Pete" and they head back to Chinatown for Wang's wedding (and so Jack can get rid of Pete).

Speaking of, things are now worse than when Jack left. It's Wang who gets kidnapped now! The
warrior magician Qiang Wu wants his revenge on our heroes for killing his master!

Our truck-driving macho hero is forced to team up with the old Egg Shen and go deep into the underworld hidden in plain sight in Chinatown's dark alleys in exchange for Wang's life. And so Jack Burton, Egg Shen and Pete embark on the Black Road of Hell aboard the Pork Chop Express! Along the journey they face several demons of old Chinese legends as well as the 7-faced Widow

Will ol' Jack Burton be able to save the day once more or will he simply bumble his way into defeating the bad guys? More importantly, have ya paid your dues, Jack?

Big Trouble in Little China works so well in comic book form, it makes for quite a fun read!

The movie was always considered a mix of everything fans love about John Carpenter films. It always way this outlandish setting offering such a fun and imaginative world. The comics is simply everything fans ever dreamed for this character, and then some.

The comic is really well handled by writer Eric Powell, who is a huge fan of the film. And it shows.

Jack Burton was always in the backseat of his own adventure, so here it's more of the same, only on a slightly crazier and bigger scale.

Jack is dragged along something bigger than him. And sometimes he even got a sidekick/pet of his own. And it's so fun to finally see this enigmatic creature from the end of the film get an actual role. And hilarious one at that!

Jack doesn't always understand what's happening around him, but his heart is always in the right place.

The comic is funny, well written and we get a lot of great banter between the characters, particularly with Egg Shen. There's a fun dynamic going on between Jack and Pete, they have a great chemistry which offers a lot of good comedy.

During the adventure we even get some funny hints of past adventures Jack Burton went through, facing biker gangs, death cults, etc. Always thinking he was the main hero in those while he really wasn't.

Maintaining Carpenter's idea that at the end of the day, Jack Burton is a character who think he's the hero while he's really just the comedic sidekick in his own story.

The comic is true to to the tone of the film. Jack is not made any more heroic, he's just the same guy with the same attitude. And always hilarious!

Finally the art is absolutely perfect for this story.Brian Churilla's (THE SIXTH GUN: SONS OF THE GUN) artwork is absolutely gorgeous to look at despite it's cartoony approach and truly fits the tone of the film. I love the way he perfectly captured Kurt Russell and his goofy faces. He obviously had a lot of fun drawing this book and really captured Russell's chin and nose. Jack Burton is such a funny "leading" hero!

As per tradition with BOOM! Studios books, we're also treated to a cover gallery collecting all the different variant covers. As always BOOM! really tried to get as many big names currently in the industry as they could. Some very talented folks jumped at the occasion to provide their own tributes to the film. Aside from Eric Powell for the main covers we also have Joe Quinones, Terry Dodson, Chris Weston, Emi Yonemura Brown who did my favorite one which is hilarious, Joe Eisma, Gabriel Hardman, Frank Cho, Adam Hughes, Dan Panosian, Evan Shaner and many more!

Simply said, for me this is the one and only real official continuation of the film!

More Big Trouble in Little China adventures! It's the sequel we never got!

Overall, this first volume of Big Trouble in Little China comes Highly Recommended! To put it simply it was one of the best new series in 2015, no kidding!

Just read the title of this first trade: "Big Trouble in Little China volume 1: The Hell of the Midnight Road & The Ghosts of Storms". How awesome and true to the film that sounds?!

These days there's been talks of an Hollywood remake of the original film, which frightens me. But this comic is as good as it gets. Big Trouble in Little China never meant to be a big budget explosive action-paced popcorn spectacle. It's a fun weird quirky throwback to old school fantasy/adventure serials. And this first volume of the comic is basically Big Trouble in Little China 2. Let's hope these comics form a proper trilogy follow-up.

Ol' Jack Burton will return... in Big Trouble in Little China Vol. 2, yessiree!

I give it:
3 / 3 Snoopies!

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