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“It’s All in The Reflexes” A Look at ‘Big Trouble In Little China: Old Man Jack’

Written by John Carpenter, Anthony Burch
Illustrated by Jorge Corona
Published by BOOM! Studios
Available in Comic Stores and via Digital

 

Everybody relax. Jack’s here.

Three decades in the making and fans of John Carpenter’s Big Trouble In Little China finally get what they always wanted: A sequel. And a sequel penned by the legendary helmer himself, no less.

Written by Carpenter, and Anthony Burch, Big Trouble In Little China: Old Man Jack is the twisted tale of everyone’s favorite trucker, with the title as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the popular curmudgeon X-Men book that earned so many accolades (and a big screen adaptation.)

And much like recent reboots such as Old Man Logan and Ash vs. The Evil Dead, Old Man Jack takes a look at what happen Burton and how the ne’er-do-well is doing this days.

The answer is: Not that great.

So, what has been Jack been up to in the last 30 years? Well, the usual. Driving around the good ole’ Pork-Chop Express, wearing his one and only tank top into the ground, and accidentally freeing the Ching Dai Demon God of the East from captivity so that it enslaves the population of Earth in a hell dimension, aka the Hellpocolypse, as it sets up shop in Little China.

So, you know, the usual.

The narrative picks up 30 years later, finding Burton in the midst of a heap of trouble, as three decades on Earth hasn’t taught Old Burton much. He’s still the same loveable lunkhead who runs headfirst into chaos without so much of a courtesy knock. This time, he’s aided by former nemesis-turned-mortal David Lo Pan as he attempts to navigate the oceans of hell from the demons he’s unwittingly unlocked.

Old friends from the original cult hit continue to pop up throughout the books, keeping the reader in the fuzzy embrace of nostalgia. And the books are filled with in-jokes galore, from Jack Burton action figures with multiple smirks to choose from to glossy movie poster parodies of other Kurt Russell pics.

The writing of the book is sharp, updating the humor from the original movie so that it translates for a modern audiences without losing the long-time fans.

This Jack is ready for battle and he’s armed with enough snide remarks to cut down any millennial.

The exaggerated look of the comic and the characters leans into the campy humor of the original movie. The over-the-top look of the characters kicks up the comedy of the original source material but playing up the yucks and the supernatural element. This Burton is even more reminiscent of Evil Dead’s Ash in many ways (cough*chin*cough) as he continues on the path of righteousness as a charismatic lunkhead who acts without thinking.

But the comic is not without flaws.

The book gives Carpenter something he never had in the movie: the freedom to explore all avenues of insane plots, theories and supernatural elements without being confined to a budget. The ability to delve into any and all ideas without the restraint of money (or in some cases, actual physical limitations) gives Carpenter and company the capability to stretch the storyline of Little China to furthest regions of their imagination.

And this is both a good thing…and a bad thing.

In some cases, it goes a little too far. The plot, the surroundings and the characters become unfamiliar and foreign to the reader as the writers get lost in their ability to go anywhere and do anything with their beloved Jack. As some points, it becomes a bit of a mess and difficult to read without reality to tether the plot.

That said, these diversions are brief and there is still Jack’s humor to help readers though. In the end, fans of the original movie looking to continue the adventures of their favorite trucker and his friends will not be disappointed.

At the end of the day, Big Trouble In Little China: Old Man Jack is an entertaining read. Sure, a little cluttered at times, but hang in there. Jack will see ya through.

 

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