Talk about a concept that nobody knew they wanted. Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 crosses over two cult classics by the legendary John Carpenter, both starring Kurt Russell. The fact that both main characters are played by the same actor is actually a major plot point. Let’s see if it holds up under it.
Coming off of his feud with David Lo Pan, Jack Burton (Kurt’s character in Big Trouble in Little China) is driving his big rig down the highway when he gets sucked into a portal. Coming out the other side, he finds a doppelganger of his adventuring buddy, Wang Chi, here named Bobby Liu, being chased by raiders who seem to have come straight from Fury Road. The two chase them off, claiming that Jack is the legendary Snake Plissken (Mr. Russell’s character in Escape from New York)… and word of this gets to the actual Snake Plissken. He’s none too pleased that a pretender is bringing heat his way, and he sets out to find the fake Snake for the inevitable confrontation before the issue’s end.
Immediately, I can see the seeds of the ongoing interactions between the two heroes. Burton puts on a snarky attitude and gets by on luck while Plissken is a battle-hardened soldier with a massive chip on his shoulder. The two are destined to grate on each other, and the fact that they already don’t like each other adds fuel to the fire. This is a comic that makes its gimmick essential to the story and also makes it enticing, making me want to read what comes next.
Stan Lee once said, “Every comic is someone’s first,” so ideally anyone who picks up a single issue should get what’s going on. First issues are usually a great jumping-on point, but this one has the extra challenge of following up on two different stories from around 30 years ago and still making it accessible. Thankfully, author Greg Pak is up to the task; while Big Trouble in Little China is summarized through questionably necessary exposition (though I mean the character recounting the events that will be important later), I got the lowdown on Escape from New York’s world from visuals and some sparse details. Even though I hadn’t seen the movie, I felt I had a good grasp on it.
The story itself is not bad at all for a first issue. We’ve been introduced to our main characters right off the bat and have a basic idea of the premise, even if we don’t have all the details. It leaves us with a nice setup for the next issue, and a promise of a cool action scene to come. While there’s no antagonist in sight as of yet (barring the possible cameo who explained Jack Burton’s adventures), there’s plenty of time to flesh things out and give us interesting characters for the lookalikes to fight.
Overall, it’s a strong first issue. Any problems I have are purely nitpicks, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next time. In fact, I may check out Escape from New York and then reread this issue. If you’re a fan of either or both of these movies, I’d recommend picking this up. In fact, I’m curious to see what complete outsiders think of it, too.