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Adventures of Jack Burton

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Adventures of Jack Burton: Big Trouble in Little Heaven Adventures of Jack Burton
"Big Trouble in Little Heaven"
Big Trouble in Little China #17 (BOOM! Studios)
Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Dan McDaid
Colors by Gonzalo Duarte
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Cover by Joe Eisma
October 2015


Jack and his friends track Eddie to a sorcerers convention in China.


Story Summary


Jack, Wang, Winona, and Gracie fly to Macao, where they have tracked Eddie to a sorcerers convention at Kunlun Casino in his quest to find his missing wife Margo. At the convention, they learn that Margo has been ensorcelled by the Russian immortal called Koschei and she is writing his lengthy memoirs with him. After an altercation, Koschei challenges our heroes to gamble their souls for Margo's release in the casino. Jack cockily accepts.




Characters appearing or mentioned in this issue



Margo Litzenberger

Wang Chi

Jack Burton

Winona Chi

Miao Yin (mentioned only)

Whitney Chi (flashback only)

Gracie Law

Ivan Tsarevich (mentioned only)

Marya Morevna (mentioned only)

Yu Shi

Eddie Lee 


Didja Notice?


On page 1, Koschei, an immortal, remarks that he can't understand why immortals such as vampires or highlanders in movies and TV shows are always crying about the woes of being immortal, saying, "Cry me the Volga." His reference to "highlanders" is to the movie and TV franchise Highlander, about immortals who appear spontaneously throughout human history. "Cry me the Volga" is a play on the idiom "Cry me a river," the Volga being the longest river in Russia.


Many of the supernaturally-themed characters standing in line with Koschei to get into the Kunlun Casino appear to be homages to other franchises or references to mythology, though I am not able to identify many of them. A small figure in the bottom right corner of page 1, panel 2 may be Bacchus (aka the Roman god Dionysus) from the Bacchus comic book stories by Eddie Campbell. The creature with the octopus-like head may be Cthulu from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos. Page 2, panel one has a smoking man in a trench coat in the background who may be John Constantine from the DC Comics universe. Page 3, panel 5 has three characters on the right-hand side that may be from the Harry Potter books: Harry himself, Ron Wesley and Hermione Granger. On the double splash page of pages 4-5, the black man on the far left may be Brother Voodoo from the Marvel Comics universe. On the right-hand page of the splash, a being who looks similar to the Seven-Faced Widow from "The House of the Seven-Faced Widow" is depicted, but with only five obvious faces (one of the heads does appear to be wearing an ID tag with the number 7 on it). Standing next to the "widow" is a large being with an elephantine head who may be the Indian Hindu god Ganesha. In front of "Ganesha" is a floating spheroid creature with many eyes and a mouth, looking similar to Lo Pan's guardian from Big Trouble in Little China. Anyone else able to identify any of the other beings seen on these pages?


Page 4 reveals that Koschei is attending Source Con, taking place the Kunlun Casino. Source Con is a fictitious convention for practitioners of the supernatural.


On page 6, as the plane lands in Macao, Wang tells Jack they've crossed the International Date Line, " technically it's yesterday..." This is true. When travelling from east to west (in this case, from the U.S. to China), the clock is one hour behind for each meridian of the globe. Macao is about 8 hours behind San Francisco.


    Jack remarks that he's never left the U.S. before except for one time he hauled a load of Mountie piñatas from Guadalajara to Vancouver. Guadalajara is a city in Mexico and Vancouver a city in Canada. "Mountie" refers to a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

   However, Jack has also been out of the country in the novels Big Trouble in Mother Russia and Big Trouble in Merrie Olde England.


This issue reveals that Wang actually has two daughters with Miao Yin, the second being a twin of Winona's named Whitney. Whitney is sort of the evil twin (though we later learn in "All-In" that it is actually Winona who was the evil one as a child). Winona remarks that Whitney was the yin to her yang; this refers to the Chinese yin-yang philosophy of the interconnectedness of opposites.


On page 7, the flashback of Winona and Whitney's youth appears to show Whitney burning down a fire station, with a couple of men even caught on fire in the blaze.


On page 8, Wang reveals he stole a duffel bag full of Xanax from the pharmacy next to his restaurant. Xanax is the trade name for the drug alprazolam, used for treating anxiety disorders.


Also on page 8, Jack says, "Reagan knows I've seen some crazy stuff in my time..." Jack seems to be using the name of his favorite president in place of "God"!


On page 9, Jack tells Gracie that when he first encountered Chinese black magic, he was thinking, "Why oh why did I agree to drive Wang to the airport?" He is referring to driving Wang early in Big Trouble in Little China, which started his current series of adventures all the way up to now.


Gracie reveals that the sorcerers' gathering currently taking place in Macao takes place only once every 100 years.


Page 9 reveals that Gracie owns a private jet.


Also on page 9, Jack warns Gracie not to hire any psychotic mercenaries this time. He is referring to the Alpha Group she hired to bring him in, as seen in the previous four issues of the comic book, starting in "Encino Man". Gracie apologizes for the incident and comments that they took advantage of her sympathy for the underdog by claiming they'd been railroaded by the military justice system. She goes on to say the Innocence Project really screwed her on that one. The Innocence Project is a non-profit organization in the U.S. that works to exonerate people that have been wrongly convicted of crimes.


Miao Yin's second husband and owner of the Kunlun Casino is named Yu Shi. The name was probably borrowed from the Chinese god of rain called Yu Shi who dwelled on the mythical Kunlun Mountain.


Gracie says that sorcerers' gathering this time, called Source Con, was originally to be called Wizard World, but was threatened with a lawsuit. This probably refers to the organization called Wizard World that produces comic book and similar genre conventions across the United States.


Appearing at the Women in Sorcery panel at Source Con, Koschei apologizes for being late, saying his flight got diverted over Ukraine due to rebel anti-aircraft fire. This refers to political unrest in Ukraine that has turned to violence since 2014 over Ukraine's relationship with Europe and Russia and includes the Russian illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in that year.


On page 10, the host of the Women in Sorcery panel asks Koschei to give the audience his C.V. C.V. stands for Curriculum Vitae, a summary of one's professional history and achievements.


Koschei claims to have been born around 627 A.D. on the banks of the Dnieper River. The Dnieper is a major river that flows through Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.


After giving his year of birth, the immortal Koschei continues, "...died in--shut yo mouth!" The phrase "Shut yo mouth!" is most commonly associated with the 1971 "Theme from Shaft" song by Isaac Hayes. In the song, the female backup singers interrupt Hayes with those words as he's about to utter a profanity: "He's a bad mother--Shut yo mouth!"


On page 11, Koschei mentions having studied with Vedomye Zheny and Vedun. In Russian folklore, Vedomye Zheny is a village wise woman and Vedun are hermits who live in the forest acting as healers and seers.


Koschei complains that the royalty like to pick on wizards when they've still got only a few cantrips under their belts. "Cantrip" is a Scottish word for "magical spell".


Koschei tells the panel the story of his encounter with Ivan Tsarevich and his fiancé Marya Morevna. Ivan and Marya are characters from Russian folklore, as is the story Koschei tells of his encounter with them (as far as he tells it; the folk tale itself tends ends with Ivan killing Koschei!).


Koschei explains that he enslaved Margo while she was snooping around a criminal organization he was involved with in Little Odessa back in the '90s. Wang explained Margo's disappearance to Jack similarly back in "Encino Man".


Koschei tells the panel he's been writing a book of his exploits with Margo for almost 25 years and still is only up to the reign of Dmitry Donskoy, over a thousand years ago. Dmitry Donskoy (1350-1389) was the reigning Prince of Moscow during part of the 14th Century. Obviously, this is significantly less than a thousand years ago.


On page 13, Koschei refers to the mummy sitting next to him as "Ace Bandage". ACE (All-Cotton Elastic) is the brand name of an elastic bandage, but has taken on the generisized description of any type of elastic bandage.


On page 14, Koschei mentions that he has an honorary masters in Women's Studies from Oberlin. "Oberlin" probably refers to J. F. Oberlin University in Machida, Tokyo, Japan.


On page 15, Koschei turns the young woman who is speaking up against him into a Russian nesting doll.


Wang tells Jack that Kunlun Casino was named after the Kunlun Mountain, a Chinese version of Mount Olympus in mythology, home of the gods.


Winona says that Kunlun Casino being compared to the mythological Kunlun Mountain makes her chi want to puke. In Chinese culture chi is considered to be the life energy of a living creature.


Due to its name, Kunlun Casino is also known in Macao as Little Heaven (Kunlun essentially means "paradise" in Chinese).


On page 20, Wang calls one of the Russian bear bodyguards "Smokey". Smokey Bear (or Smokey the bear) is an advertising mascot of the United States Forest Service to educate the public about the prevention of forest fires.


On page 22, Jack mentions Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong is a 1981 video game and gorilla character in the game, developed by Nintendo.

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