BOOM! Studios has earned a degree of success with a comic book sequel to the cult classic film Big Trouble in Little China. Naturally, the publisher hopes for lightning to strike twice by publishing a sequel to another John Carpenter/Kurt Russell collaboration: the dystopian action movie Escape From New York. While Big Trouble in Little China has managed to capture the madcap goofiness of that film, writer Christopher Sebela and artist Diego Barreto sadly lose sight of its source material’s appeal.
Though Escape From New York #1 may be a disappointment, it is not without its moments. Specifically, the issue’s opening sequence wonderfully picks up from the film’s conclusion. The action may be over-the-top compared to the film (even more so than the 1995 sequel Escape From L.A.), but it holds together because of the characterization of S.D. “Snake” Plissken. Here, Plissken is cold, efficient, and brief with his words. Sadly, this depiction of Kurt Russell’s star-turning role does not last beyond the first seven pages.
Once the opening scene has past, Escape From New York becomes a completely different book, and not necessarily for the better. Snake gets himself caught up with a group of people heading towards Florida – this universe’s modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. Seeking out the world’s last vestige of freedom is not in character for Plissken given what is known of him from the movies. Though he is a bad-ass criminal, his actions [within the Escape movies] suggest that he enjoys upsetting the establishment. He sees the country which has branded him both a war hero and a criminal having gone astray and wishes to exploit it from the inside, if for selfish reasons. Having him flee the country makes no sense.
Another problem is that Snake is more chatty than ever before. There are times where Sebela has the character spout off paragraphs of dialogue. For a character that hardly put two sentences together at any moment in two films, this can be off-putting for longtime fans.
One of this issue’s strongest elements is the art by Diego Barreto. Though the script may have lost sight of what makes Escape From New York an enduring piece of pop entertainment, Barreto’s art does not. Emulating the grimy, gritty nature of the films, Barreto gives this world a “lived in” feel that many other licensed properties fail to capture. This is partially due to the beautiful, muted colors provided by Marissa Louise.
Escape From New York #1 is a disappointment. Had this been an original story with original characters, perhaps opinions of this issue would be different. However, it caries the name of a beloved classic film, and with that comes expectations as to what kind of story this should be. Sadly, those expectations fail to be met.