Joint Review – Escape from New York #1 (BOOM! Studios)

EFNY01_coverA - CopyPublisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Diego Berreto
Release Date: 3rd December 2014

Ceej Says…

Following Eric Powell and Brian Churilla’s impressive success in bringing John Carpenter’s Big Trouble In Little China to the printed page, all eyes now fall on the creative team of Christopher Sebela and Diego Barreto to see if they can capture the same magic in their eagerly-anticipated homage to another Carpenter classic, Escape from New York.

Following on directly from the events of the film, this series doesn’t miss a beat in hurling us headlong into the action as Snake Plissken pretty much instantly becomes public enemy number one (again!), finding himself pursued by jeeps, helicopters, angry police officers and god knows what else. This is every inch an 80’s action movie of a comic, which I suppose you can take as either both a positive or a negative depending on your personal taets.

On one hand, the action set-pieces (while occasionally more than a little confusing to follow) and the dry, wise-ass delivery of Snake feel as though they have been plucked directly from the movie, with the over-the-top violence and sheer unflappable ‘bad-assery’ of our one-eyed hero all-but guaranteed to appeal to fans of the franchise. On the other hand however, the story itself is a little nonsensical for the time being, with the seemingly unstoppable Snake seeking sanctuary in the rogue seceded state of Florida, and some vaguely-defined threat involving the state stockpiling nuclear weapons.

Writer Sebela does throw in some great moments along the way it has to be said, such as the ‘crucible’ required to gain entry to Florida, and the dialogue is pleasingly familiar – even if Snake himself doesn’t really have all that much to say.   Artist Baretto does a solid enough job in recreating the iconic lead character, even if the layout of his action sequences can occasionally be a little muddled, and his hand-to-hand-combat tends to look somewhat awkward and disjointed.

Overall, while it may not quite live up to the hype, this is still a solid opening salvo for the new series, and contains more than enough meat for fans of the franchise to get their teeth into. I’m definitely curious to see where the story goes from here, and as a die-hard fan of cheesy 80’s action, I’m planning on sticking with this one – at least for the foreseeable future.

Rating: 3/5.

Martin says…

Opening with the final moments of John Carpenter’s dystopian cult classic, Escape From New York re-acquaints us with one of cinema’s most influential anti-heroes, Snake Plissken. Having just saved the President from the denizens of Manhattan Island Prison, before promptly humiliating him before the leaders of the world, Snake’s full pardon is soon revoked and he finds himself public enemy number one…again.

The first issue in this hugely anticipated series, is heavy on action, but is disappointingly thin on plot and doesn’t quite translate the gritty realism of the film to the page. Aside from wishing to create distance between himself and the USPF, Snake would appear to have no other motivation at this early stage. The issue is essentially a series of exposition heavy encounters with a hitherto disposable supporting cast, wherein our hero simply glides through a variety of threatening situations without ever breaking a sweat. Characterisation is as you’d expect; Snake is a serial rule breaker and lateral strategist, but he’s verging on superhero status here. We all know he’s a badass, but if you go too far, you can paint yourself into a corner to the point where it’s hard to see how he can ever come to harm.

Action sequences account for much of the panel space in the issue, and Diego Baretto captures pretty accurate likeness of Kurt Russell, although I found some of his panel transitions disorienting; especially during the helicopter chase. Marissa Louise’s colours are understandably washed-out to accentuate the grim dystopian feel, which does work well for the most part, but leaves the artwork looking flat in places.

Although minus a compelling narrative at this early stage, and with Christopher Sebela on writing duties, this series can and hopefully will come good in the long run. An intriguing last few panels have helped retain my interest, but I had expected quite a bit more.

Rating: 2/5.

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