Review: Escape From New York #1

Even though I wasn’t blown away by BOOM!’s Big Trouble in Little China, I couldn’t help but get excited about Escape From New York. Growing up Snake Plissken was one of my favorite film characters, so much so that I struggled through the terrible sequel Escape From L.A. in which showed an aged Kurt Russell surf as he ran the gambit of California stereotypes (most of which are only true on TV). The thing is, I’m in love with the history and lore of this character. What happened in Cleveland remains one of the best untold storylines in all cinema for me and so the chance to expand on that and take Snake across the country was to enticing to pass up.

EFNY01_coverAThe issue picks up right after the end of the first (and one true) movie as the President is made a fool of by Snake who destroys the tape that he was charged with rescuing that could have prevented WWIII. After this embarrassment the Prez sends the military after Plissken, erasing his pardon in the process. Eventually Plissken makes his way to Florida which has broken off from the rest of the country though the government doesn’t acknowledge it.

For the most part I liked the issue, but there is a lot of good and bad. It tit for tats itself in that way. Every time I would enjoy something it was doing it would instantly do something I didn’t like and a lot of that stems from the artistic direction.

The opening in particular avoids using the facial features of any of the actors from the film which is expected. It’s 100% expected and so seeing a different face popped on the frame of the character is okay with me. Instead artist Diego Barreto takes the route of either never showing the character’s face or covering it in shadows. In particular there’s a panel with Snake at the beginning in which his face is completely blacked out and yet the shadowing for the panel does line up with the face. This one in particular is pretty strange since later we do see Snake’s face, be it a profile 90% of the time.

The president is reduced to just hands and Hauk’s face is almost completely blacked out as well. From there the art just choses to have very little detail and there are tons of jumps in the action. I lost count of how many times the issue would show the beginning of an action sequence and then just jump to the end of it. I don’t know why that was viewed as acceptable, but only seeing the start and consequences doesn’t make anyone cheer for the character.

As for the story there is potentially one thing that could sour me quickly. The world of EFNY has always been grounded in our reality, but an element introduced with the antagonists may make it more “comic booky” and not in a good way. That and it was pretty obvious to me that the woman that led Snake to Florida was likely working for some kind of government organization and that Snake was taking another government job without even realizing it.

A better direction with the art would have saved this issue. As it stands the story and dialogue are really good and capture the vibe of the world, but don’t try to mimic it in a way that’s annoying. The art, while decent, sinks the book. The strange gaps in action and the overall awkwardness of the panels chosen really leave a lot to be desired. Hopefully that art improves because otherwise this is going to be one difficult series to enjoy.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Christopher Sebela Artist: Diego Barreto Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/3/14 Format: Print/Digital