REVIEW: Escape from New York (2015)

A Graphic Novel by Christopher Sebela & Jordie Bellaire Diego Baretto

At some point BOOM! Studios got the rights to make officially licensed comics based on numerous John Carpenter properties. I believe there is one for Night Breed and another for Big Trouble in Little China, just to name a few – I saw this and jumped at the chance to read it since I absolutely love the film. I went into this book assuming a direct adaptation of the classic 1981 film, Escape from New York, however this book is somewhat misleading as it is a direct sequel to said movie continuing on from the last moments of the film. In all honesty, this should be called “Escape from Florida”, as that is literally what happens in the book – at least the graphic novel acknowledges that on the cover of the print edition. What the comic does right is get the character of Snake Plisskin down pretty well, what is does wrong – well, pretty much everything else sadly.

“The crime rate in the United States has risen 400 percent. After humiliating the President in front of the world and destroying America’s one chance to end World War III, Snake Plissken has become America’s Most Wanted man in a land of criminals and the insane. Everyone wants Snake dead. Luckily, Snake knows the feeling all too well. War hero. Outlaw. Renegade. Snake’s back!”

This is not a terrible book by any means, the art is serviceable if not somewhat underwhelming, and the writing seems fairly passable, however there were some glaring issues that made me not like this very much. First and foremost the plot is choppy, mostly because it seems like the comic was made in the mindset of being separate issues of a story rather than a full graphic novel. There are time jumps where we don’t see the culmination of a long portion of the plot, and confusing sections where things are just dropped for some reason. It’s kind of sloppy, and honestly doesn’t “feel” like the original film in any way. We also never get the camaraderie of having sidekick characters, as they die off almost immediately after appearing. It’s hard to get much emotion out of Snake if he never has anyone to talk to for long period of time.

In this story, Snake decides to head to the Deep South, tagging along with a group of people to “The Independent Free Republic of Florida.” It’s a contained walled country, that only allows the most amazing of all badass people to enter the gates, and Snake has a feeling he can lay-low there. Florida turns out to be run by teenage brothers named Romulus and Remus and their guardian ‘Meemaw’, a powerful former alligator wrestler. Everyone is excited to see such a celebrity as Snake that they have all sorts of plans for him, ones he has no intention of participating in. So now, he has the stakes we are used to, and now he has to “escape”.

To be honest, that is exactly what the plot seems to boil down to every subsequent issue, Snake gets captured in some way and has to “escape” on his way to “escaping from Florida” – it gets tiresome, and feels like lazy writing. This might as well be a comic about Harry Houdini, as the plot is a bit too “on the nose” for the comic. This, more than anything else, was a disappointing comic considering the source material. I’m not going to pretend that Escape from LA, the follow-up film, was anywhere as good as the first film, but at least it had the same vibe as the classic movie. This does not, and almost feels like a parody. Honestly, I may take a pass on further comics in this line.

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