The half-life on a “Big Trouble In Little China” comic book series should have expired several years ago. With nostalgia pushing well into the ’90s at this point, this is an odd choice to release in 2014. I want to stress odd, and not bad, because this book is really fun. BOOM! Studios hired Eric Powell, a man who knows all about grifters, wanderers, weird monsters and tank tops, to develop this story with John Carpenter, creator of the franchise, and what we wind up with is exactly the type of fun and adventure that might not have translated well to celluloid.
Hard-drivin’ Jack Burton is back on the open road after the Big Trouble of the film and immediately finds himself drawn back into machinations set in motion by Lo Pan. After returning to town with a new friend in a hilarious t-shirt, Burton creeps out everyone at Wang’s wedding and then gets tossed back in to the fire, taking up the mission to save Wang’s life from yet another supernatural threat.
Powell’s dialogue has a lot of fun with the pulp elements of the source material and provides great beats for some fantastic slapstick action. Working with Carpenter, Powell nails Burton’s voice. The comedy in the character comes from Burton being himself and smashing up against elements both natural and supernatural; he’s a drifter, a man with no place in any world except his own. The weird marriage story he gives at the wedding reception is hilarious and strange — and perfectly in place for this guy.
Brian Churilla provides fun, active art. The look is more animated than photo-real, which is an interesting choice considering how realistic the art is on all of the book’s many, many covers. Churilla’s take on Burton exaggerates every character’s features without making them unrecognizable. This allows the slapstick elements to feel at home next to the equally plausible action sequences.
This seemed like such an odd book to publish when it was announced, but now that I’ve had it in my hands it makes 100% sense. There’s no way they could get Kurt Russell to revive this character in a way that would be as satisfying as what we get here. Shifting the medium and keeping the story lets us hold on to Jack Burton the way he should be. This is a fun introductory issue, and though there’s a fair amount of standing around and talking in the issue readers are on the road to some big adventure soon enough. I’m climbing aboard the ol’ Pork-Chop Express for the long haul.