Calling all Big Trouble in Little China fans! Ol’ Jack Burton is riding the Pork-Chop Express back into town this week with a new Big Trouble in Little China illustrated novel from Boom! Studios! Except, this time, Jack’s going someplace new: Russia!
Matthew J. Elliott is the writer of Big Trouble in Mother Russia, which will feature illustrations by Elena Casagrande. According to Boom! Studios’ description, this is “A direct sequel to the 1986 classic, Jack is back and he’s brought some old friends—and a few enemies—along for an adventure that will shake the pillars of Heaven. Literally. Kidnapped and dropped into communist Russia, Jack and his best friend Wang must survive the KGB, the Russian mafia, the ancient Chinese Wing Kong, and a series of fantastical horrors if they ever want to get home. With the help of Gracie Law and Egg Shen, they will have to unlock a centuries-old mystery that could tear apart the very fabric of reality in order to survive.”
Today, CraveOnline is exclusively debuting the first two chapters of Big Trouble in Mother Russia for your reading enjoyment. But first, check out the cover by Oliver Barrett! This book hits comic stores on December 21, and bookstores on December 27.
Chapter One: Hit the Road, Jack
There are just a few hours in the day even those who consider themselves “Night Owls” never see. Sooner or later, almost everyone needs their sleep. That’s when the world belongs to a privileged few. A noble, heroic band. Warriors, poets, lovers—they are all these things and so much more.
“Now, I’m not saying I’ve been everywhere and seen everything, but I reckon maybe I’ve seen too much,” drawled Jack Burton into the mic of his CB radio. “Yeah, you heard me. And you’re asking yourself: ‘Is this really my old pal Jack Burton talking? The man who proudly parked his truck outside every single International House of Pancakes in this great nation? The man who laminated the ten bucks he won from Rip Taylor in an arm-wrestling contest? The man who saved San Francisco’s Chinatown—the parts of it that didn’t get blown to shit, I mean?’ Hell, yeah, it is!”
Jack took his hand from the steering wheel of his rig long enough to grab his sandwich and take a healthy bite out of it.
“‘So what’s going on, Jack? What happened to that sense of wide-eyed wonder that women found as irresistible as your timeless fashion sense?’ Good damn question. Damn good question. And I can answer that in two words: David Lo Pan.” He paused for a moment, wondering whether or not Lo Pan might or might not be hyphenated. “Maybe three words. Long story short, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a few months back, I wound up going mano-a-mano with an ancient Chinese sorcerer. Well, sometimes he was ancient, other times not so much. The guy’s name was David Lo Pan. And, yeah, I know—David. Go figure.”
He wondered whether he should take off his sunglasses, it being 2:30 in the morning and the long road ahead being pretty much unlit. The hell with it, he decided—if it’s good enough for Corey Hart, it’s definitely good enough for Jack Burton.
“I’m a little hazy on the details of how I took out Lo Pan’s operation,” he went on. “I’m pretty sure I got knocked out by some kind of bolt of magic energy at one point, but my good buddy Wang insists I got hit by a ceiling tile when I fired my gun into the air. I think my version is the more plausible. But the world got itself saved, and the bad guys—Lo Pan, his assassin army the Wing Kong, and these weird dudes in enormous straw hats who called themselves the Three Storms—got themselves blown the hell up. I can say with absolute 100% confidence that I’ll never see any of them again. Except the Wing Kong—they’re like the Shriners; they got bases in most cities. But after that big trouble, I was a changed man. I was still ruggedly handsome Jack Burton on the outside, but something inside of me just wasn’t right, and I couldn’t put it down to the crispy duck Wang made me as a thank-you meal—not entirely. That was when I decided to get the hell out of Dodge, turning my back on Far Eastern magic, brilliantly choreographed kung-fu mayhem, and the incandescent green eyes of Gracie Law…” Jack seemed to stumble over that last name—it had a lot of associations for him. “And that was also when Pete came into my life.”
On cue, a loud snore came from the seat next to his. Jack lowered his shades and glowered at his noisy passenger.
“Pete was one of Lo Pan’s unholy creatures—a hairy, sabre-toothed killing machine. Imagine Clyde the orangutan from the Which Way films crossed with a python. The thought of what that might look like would at least take your mind off the goddamn ugly monster snacking on your internal organs. Of course, he wasn’t Pete when I first met him. To me, he was Where the Hell Did You Spring From Get Off My Truck You King Kong Wannabe Bastard. Maybe that needs a little context. I was in my natural environment, behind the wheel of the Pork-Chop Express (that’s the name of my rig, but you probably already knew that), when I realized that the last of Lo Pan’s brute-monsters had hitched a ride. I went through a mixture of emotions at that moment: shock, surprise … uh, anger … queasiness.”
It struck Jack that queasiness might not actually be an emotion. Now he came to think about it, shock and surprise were kind of the same thing. OK, so he went through two emotions, but they were big ones.
“When the dust settled, though, it seemed like the ugly son of was really just lonely. He missed his boss, and now that he was suddenly unemployed, he didn’t know what to do with himself, apart from fling his own poop (which I once saw melt its way through the door of a 1970 Dodge Challenger—classic muscle car, what a damn shame). We bonded over a cold meatball sub, and right then, we both knew he was coming with me. I named him Pete, after all of my childhood pets, and dressed him up in my second-best T-shirt. And it almost worked. I pictured Pete and me, crisscrossing the country, getting caught up in a bunch of BJ and the Bear-style mishaps (why Greg Evigan was never even nominated for an Emmy is one of the greatest injustices of the 20th century). I even learned to live with the fact that, whenever he picked his boogers, I could see the image of a soul screaming in eternal torment in each of them. I’m pretty sure one of them was Bing Crosby. My new life of liberty and adventure was laid out in front of me, and it didn’t seem half bad. Until we got to Fresno. That was where the Lords of Death caught up with us.”
A violent jolt suddenly lifted Jack out of his seat and caused his sandwich to fall from his lap. He stuck his head out the window. Nothing there but his truck and the long, long road. Either he’d hit a pothole, or some animal with poor spatial awareness that’d thought it could make it to the other side of the highway before the oncoming truck got too close. Bad call, brother. The incident hadn’t woken his neighbor out of his unnaturally heavy slumber.
Having reassured himself that no one was on his tail, Jack resumed his recollections. “Now, you’d be within your rights in thinking that after all the supernatural badasses I’ve mentioned up to now, the Lords of Death must have the biggest, baddest asses of all. But the best advertising campaign in the world can’t sell a sub-standard product, which is why I never made the switch to New Coke.”
He was suddenly unaccountably thirsty, and dropped the mic onto his knee while he reached under his seat in the hope of finding a full can of just about anything. No luck, dammit. He grabbed the mic, and waited until he’d built up enough saliva in his mouth to continue.
“The Lords of Death are a street gang. Their name has more of a ring to it than Crips or Bloods, I’ll give ‘em that, but they’re basically just the front men for the Wing Kong. I first ran into a few of them at San Francisco International, and, yeah, they were pretty handy with their martial arts stuff, but I put their success down to the fact that they caught me off guard. Try to jump Jack Burton when he’s ready for you, and you’ll find him a force to be reckoned with. The ones who were crawling all over my truck in Fresno were operating on the instructions of the Wing Kong, who were pissed that I’d blown their brothers to smithereens in an explosion bigger than that one time I tried to bake a potato in a microwave (though not by much). It took some pretty fancy driving and a conveniently placed low bridge to scrape ‘em all off, but I knew then that my new life was already coming to an end. It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do, but I’ve decided that Pete’s got to go.”
He’d once tried to explain to Pete how it had proven next to impossible to keep a low profile with Bigfoot’s dumber, gassier nephew sharing his cab, but the big galoot just started to swallow his tongue for approximately the hundredth time, and Jack had to reach into his jaws and yank it back out again for approximately the hundredth time. That was the moment when he’d pretty much made up his mind. After all, he told himself, there’s only so many times you can pick dried-up flakes of demon saliva out of your wrist hairs before you know you have to make a pretty dramatic change in your life. He was also sure he’d heard that something similar happened to Jerry Lewis right before he split from Dino, which at least put The Day the Clown Cried into some kind of perspective.
He looked over again at Pete, who had managed to produce an enormous bubble of drool while dozing. It was about the size of a party balloon, and the colors swirling around in it could not be found in nature. Jack reached across and popped it with a finger, drenching the creature in its own sputum, but yet again failing to awaken him.
“Yeah,” Jack murmured to himself, “it’s probably for the best. Egg’ll know what to do with you.”
He replaced the mic on its cradle, wholly unaware of the world of trouble that lay ahead of him.
Click over to the next page to read the second chapter from Big Trouble in Mother Russia!