Driving the Pork Chop Express. Rescuing Chinese girls with green eyes. Fighting little old basket-cases on wheels who turn into ten-foot-tall road blocks. Shaking the pillars of heaven. That’s all in a day’s work for Jack Burton, the charismatic truck driver hero with a mullet from John Carpenter’s 1986 kung fu/sci-fi comedy, Big Trouble in Little China.
It’s been nearly 30 years since the film was first released at the box office, and since my friend Julian and I would pretend that I was Miao Yin and he was David Lo Pan. We’d quote lines like “Chinese girls do not come with green eyes, Mr. Burton” and “It’s all in the reflexes” and cross our pinky fingers just like evil Lo Pan did before beams of light shot out of his mouth. Big Trouble was one of my favorite movies of the 80s, and it was my second favorite from director John Carpenter (right after The Thing).
When I first heard that Boom! Studios was creating a comic book about it, I was excited. Then when Keith told me that I could possibly get an advanced preview of it, I was ecstatic. Sure enough, he was able to connect me with Boom! marketing manager Mel Caylo, who sent me a copy of it before its release date — which is today, June 4. So I immediately went home and read it, and it was everything that I could imagine, plus an extra scoop of the cockiness and hilarity that exudes from Kurt Russell’s epic portrayal of Jack Burton.
Thanks to The Goon writer Eric Powell — with a little help from John Carpenter himself — and The Secret History of D.B. Cooper artist Brian Churilla, we finally find out what happened to Jack Burton after he defeated David Lo Pan (who, in my opinion, is one of the baddest mo fo’s of the ’80s, next to The Last Dragon’s Sho’nuff). At the end of the film we were left with Lo Pan’s ape-like demon hiding in the back of Jack’s Pork Chop Express truck. So naturally, that’s where the first issue of the comic book picks up.
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers because I think that you should read the comic for yourself, but I will say that what happens between Jack and the monster — whom he later names “Pete” — is not what you would expect.
What should you expect then? For starters, familiar characters like Egg Shen and Wang Chi are back and bantering with Jack while still shaking off his lack of respect and decency. When they show up in this storyline, just like they did in the film, they let Jack think that he’s the hero while they end up fighting off the perpetrators. Even though Wang doesn’t have a huge role in this first issue, I have a feeling that his role as Jack’s “Asian sidekick” will develop into something much more, and he will once again prove that the white guy doesn’t always save the day (which was eloquently stated many years ago by Philip at You Offend Me You Offend My Family). Here’s hoping, anyway.
As we kick off the story in the comic, Wang is getting hitched to Miao Yin, and they’re preparing for the big event. Pete follows Jack to Wang’s wedding, and so does a gang of bad guys and a new antagonist: a warrior sorcerer named Qiang Wu. Wu has even more of an evil glow and towering presence than Lo Pan, and his body armor and massive headdress could definitely shield any of Jack’s reflexes.
Everything about this first issue — from the intricate artwork highlighting Jack’s unshaven face and Egg’s unimpressed expressions, to the campy dialogue that always gets Jack in trouble — pays perfect homage to the original film. I could picture Kurt Russell and the gang from the ’86 film saying and portraying every panel in the comic, and to me, that is exactly what you want to do when you model a new series after a cult classic.
Apparently I’m not the only one impressed with the series. John Carpenter gave a shout out to Powell in a recent EW article, saying:
He really gets Burton’s sense of humor and who he is. Jack Burton is really a piece of s– if you want to be honest. He’s a blowhard, he’s sort of incompetent but he thinks he knows everything. He’s really fun. He’s completely out of his league. That’s the most fun about it.
And what Jack Burton symbolizes is exactly what is captured in this comic. I highly suggest checking it out if you are a fan of the film. Plus, the first issue features over 14 different covers and is available at your local comic shop right now! You can see all of the 14 covers here.
Finally, to pump you up for the comic, I leave you with this remix: