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BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA V. 1: THE HELL OF THE MIDNIGHT ROAD & THE GHOSTS OF STORMS (review)

Review by Clay N Ferno
Big Trouble In Little China V. 1:
The Hell of The Midnight Road & The Ghosts of Storms
Story by John Carpenter and Eric Powell
Written by Eric Powell
Art by Brian Churilla
Colored by Michael Garland
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Cover by Eric Powell
Published by BOOM! Studios
Publication Date: June 03, 2015
UPC 978160886716551499
Buy it HERE
Available on Comixology

John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China returned last year in comic book form thanks to Carpenter himself (story) and The Goon‘s Eric Powell with Brian Churilla (The Sixth Gun) on art.

BOOM! Studios released the first volume of continuing adventures of The Pork Chop Express last month. Jack is back, baby and he’s born ready to rock!

Let him regale you with tales of his ex-wives as he deals with a pet demon named Pete takes on the evil Wing Kong with his pal Egg Shen.

Issue #12 is out today but to get the party started, check out Volume 1 collecting issues 1—4.

“Have ya paid your dues, Jack?”

“Yessir, the check is in the mail”.

When Big Trouble was on TV as a kid, I knew very little of the Kung Fu movies it was riding on, nor did I care about the mirror reflection of American truck-stop culture presented by Kurt Russell and his character Jack Burton. Christ, I thought it was a food documentary about take out culture in the furthest place on Earth from my home — San Francisco, CA.

Days creeped on for me as I began to love Bruce Lee movies, Carpenter’s other movies The Thing, Halloween, Escape from New York/L.A. and They Live started to shape my adolescent machismo.

With every karate class I took, I wanted to be Jack Burton. Every time I put on shades, I wanted to see hidden messages in the advertising. Interestingly, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s IMDB lists more movie and television credits than I remember but to this day, when I see Shepard Fairey’s ubiquitous “OBEY” images in large format public art, it freaks me the hell out.

Other (bigger) kids had Schwarzenegger’s Terminator to aspire to, I had Kurt with his Snake Plissken and Jack Burton to envy and model my hair style and attire after.

Hell, I even went to the movies to see Tango & Cash.

I did wait for the trade of this comic, though. I’m either a notorious ‘trade-waiter’ now, or my stack is overwhelming most weeks. Thankfully, Marvel and DC are freeing some space, time and dollars with their current offerings, so revisiting Jack and Egg 29 years later feels as comfortable as a wonton soup on a cold winter day.

Side order, this just in: The Rock is interested in bringing back Jack to the big screen but Carpenter has yet to commit his special sauce to the equation.

Carpenter worked with the main writer Eric Powell at least to lay the foundation of this trade. There is Powell’s signature style from The Goon thick on this book that deals with demons, paranormal and of course kick-ass action scenes.

The magic in this trade is that it achieves what one hopes to achieve when writing a licensed book is getting the voices of the characters right.

The 1980’s egotistical trucker hero Jack Burton is true to form here, even when Egg and Wang seem to only hold up the story and exposition.

Jack is at his best wise-cracking against mystical forces and lightning demons he doesn’t have time enough to be fearful of. He’s fearless and cracks more wise than Spidey himself or Ash from Army of Darkness. Actually, please excuse me for a few moments while I pitch an Ash vs. Little China miniseries!

Back to the book! Brian Churilla, a frequent collaborator with Cullen Bunn (Hellbreak,
The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun) and also creator of The Secret History of D.B. Cooper nails the artwork by keeping it action packed and easy to follow.

Brian’s cartooning references the original actors in the film but has a hand drawn look to it that is quite fun. I compare him respectfully to The Fox’s Dean Haspiel who may be appearing in this column quite soon!

The comic is fun, funny and full of fight scenes, not an easy task to hit all of those notes. I can’t wait to read the rest of the book and get caught up. The art direction and designs of some of the creatures in the book are both gross and hilarious.

Credit to both the writer and the artists for pacing silent panels with deadpan expressions right before some attacker comes flying through the window!

There are mystical elements that are great, referencing the underground action in the film. One assumes these are all scenes that happen after the events of the movie. Egg, Pete and Jack head into a Roger Rabbit tunnel in the wall to go on their first quest in an effort to save Wang.

Carrying on the tradition of Jack telling stories about his ex-wife, we find out in the comic there was more than one of those, each marriage ending in a spectacular fashion. A running gag portrays Jack’s blissful ignorance about his evil exes being revealed to the reader and never Jack himself. Laugh out loud moments for sure.

Perhaps I didn’t initially want to believe I could go to the Chinatown of my youth again, but it turns out I could.

This book received a lot of praise from major comics media and for good reason. I can say that I am glad I waited because there are still eight more issues for me to throw some soy and ginger sauce on this summer.

The bad news for those wanting volume 2 is that you may have to wait. Good news is single issues are available in ComiXology and at your local store.

Do, please rock a sweet mullet if while you pull it off the shelf and say, “It’s all in the reflexes”.

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