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The Snake Plissken Chronicles

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Snake Plissken Chronicles: Public Enemy No. 1 The Snake Plissken Chronicles
"Public Enemy No. 1"
Escape from New York #1 (BOOM Studios)
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Diego Barreto
Colorist: Marissa Louise
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Cover A: Declan Shalvey
December 2014


Humiliated by playing the wrong tape for the Hartford Summit, the U.S. President revokes Snake's hard-won pardon and sends the USPF after him again.


Story Summary


Picking up where Escape from New York left off, the humiliated President, after playing the wrong audio tape for the Hartford Summit, supplied to him by Snake Plissken, revokes Snake's presidential pardon and orders Hauk to get after him. But Snake is already ahead of the USPF, stealing a police Jeep and then commandeering a copter. USPF copters are sent after him and, after an aerial battle with air-to-air missiles, Snake is brought down in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Snake makes his way out of the forest and hitches a ride in a van with a group of four young Satanists, three men and a woman, heading for the Free Republic of Florida.


Snake falls asleep in the van, waking up to find the gang robbing a gas station after having killed the clerk. Angry, he knocks out the men and steals a pick-up to escape the scene with the young woman, Jayne, who was not directly involved with the hit. After escaping an investigating USPF helicopter, the two arrive at the border of Florida, where Jayne takes her leave of Snake, more interested in going back to her old, quiet life after her adventure. Snake wants to continue into Florida, where the USPF will have a difficult time touching him, but he must pass through the Crucible to prove his worthiness before the state will let him as a new citizen. Flaunting the rules of the Crucible, Snake easily slaughters his way through the obstacles.


Snake is passed into Florida, but must accept a job there to become a citizen. Snake disagrees and head-butts the job assignment officer, leading to the F.R.F. soldiers declaring him non-compliant, punishable by execution. He is then greeted by the Twins, Romulus and Remus, who run Florida and who promise to kill him.




Notes from the Snake Plissken chronology


This issue opens as the President begins his televised appearance to the Hartford Summit as seen at the end of Escape from New York and continues immediately from there, on the night of October 24, 1997 (as revealed in the novelization of the film) and then follows Snake into the 25th. This would be Friday and Saturday according to the calendar.



Characters appearing or mentioned in this issue


President Harker

Snake Plissken

Commissioner Hauk

USPF sergeant (unnamed)





Joe (gas station clerk, deceased)

The Twins (Romulus and Remus) 


Didja Know?


The issues of this series do not have published individual titles assigned to them. I assigned the title "Public Enemy No. 1" to this issue from a line of dialog spoken by Hauk about Snake in this issue.


While this issue begins during the last 45 seconds of the events of Escape from New York, the rest of the issue and the comic book series itself are not directly part of that story, so the series title seems a bit of a misnomer. Couldn't BOOM Studios have borrowed the title of the 2003 Crossgen comic book mini-series The Chronicles of Snake Plissken? I guess they figured the series would get more attention having the same name as the cult film. 


The snake image on the inside front cover of this issue (and subsequent issues) is the famous "Join, or Die" political cartoon woodcut by Benjamin Franklin, published in his Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper on May 9, 1754 (representing his opinion on the disunited American colonies' need to join together with Great Britain in the French and Indian War of 1754–1763). The eight segments and accompanying initials represent the disunited British colonies of New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
snake Join, or Die
Segmented snake on inside front cover "Join, or Die" political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin


Didja Notice?


Page 1 of this issue essentially retells the last 45 seconds of Escape from New York, with the President's failed audio presentation and Snake destroying the real tape.


The artist depicts Liberty Island Security Control very close to what was seen in Escape from New York, accepting some very moderate artistic license. 


Notice that Snake still wears the countdown timer on his left wrist throughout most of this issue, but we saw when he went to speak to the President before his speech at the end of Escape from New York that he had removed it. On the other hand, he is no longer wearing the makeshift bandage on his right leg that he was still wearing at that time.


Snake was pretty exhausted by the end of Escape from New York (as he even admits to Hauk in their exchange of "You going to kill me now, Snake?" "I'm too tired. Maybe later."), yet he runs around as if full of energy (and uninjured!) throughout this issue.


On page 2, panel 1, the President's cufflink is imprinted with what appears to be the official seal of the President of the United States.


On page 2, upon realizing that Snake has handed over the wrong cassette tape, the President tells Hauk to go after him and that he's revoking Snake's pardon. When Hauk challenges that that's "kind of against the spirit of the rules", the President responds, "It's not wrong if the President does it." The President's response is a paraphrasing of a quote from U.S. President Richard Nixon in a televised interview he did with David Frost:
  Frost: Would you say that there are certain situations - and the Huston Plan was one of them - where the president can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation, and do something illegal?
Nixon: Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.


The President then goes on to ask Hauk, "Who's the President, Hauk? Who's A-Number-One?" He is appropriating the phrase the Duke of New York made him repeat while he was held captive, "You are the Duke of New York. You are A-Number One."


On page 3, Snake jumps onto a police helicopter as it is taking off and, yanking open the pilot's door, grabs him and says, "Get out. Now." This is probably a callback to a scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in which, after oozing into a police helicopter, the T-1000 Terminator tells the pilot, "Get out."


Snake's copter is shot down and he crashes into the Pine Barrens. The Pine Barrens is a large, thickly-forested area of New Jersey, sparsely inhabited.


Escaping the copter crash, Snake eventually emerges from the forest on a highway and thumbs a ride from a passing female motorist. It seems unlikely that your average woman driving alone would stop to pick up a scruffy, menacing-looking guy like Snake on the side of the road!


On page 8, the car the woman is driving looks to be a Honda Civic of the 1979–1983 model.


The television news broadcast on page 8 mentions recent border skirmishes between the USPF and F.R.F. We learn later in the story that F.R.F. stands for "Free Republic of Florida".


The waitress behind the counter at the diner Snake goes into seems to recognize him and gives him a hamburger on the house and adds, "Y'know, I heard you were dead."


On page 9, Snake gets a ride in a van with a group of young Satanists named Aleister, Anton, Jayne, and Kenneth. Their names are borrowed by the writer from those of famous occultists Aleister Crowley (occultist and ceremonial magician), Anton LeVey (founder of the Church of Satan), Jayne Mansfield (a well-known actress), and Kenneth Anger (an underground filmmaker).


Aleister wears a hat with the triangular symbol of the All-Seeing Eye of God on it.


On page 10, Jayne recognizes Snake and says, "I heard you was dead." Snake responds, "I get that a lot."


On page 10, Aleister opens his shirt to display a pentacle tattoo on his chest, a pentagram (five-pointed star) circumscribed by a circle. This symbol has been used in religious and magical rituals since ancient times and is still in use by various neopagan religions. Christian religions in recent centuries tend to associate it with Satanism.


Realizing that Snake is unaware that Florida seceded from the United States 6 years ago, Jayne asks him, "Where you been, Snake?" and he responds simply, "Busy." The novelization of Escape from New York reveals that the USPF had been trying to capture Snake for various crimes for the past 5 years. So what was he doing that earlier 6th year? Maybe he was still in the Army at that time, which might narrow down when the Leningrad mission took place (1991?). 


Snake looks at a map of the United States on page 10. There are X's through the state of Florida and over the area of Manhattan Island (the prison he just brought the President out of). But there are also X's over the states of Washington, North Carolina, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Missouri. What's the story with those states? U.S. map


Aleister says that anything goes in Florida, a "modern day Sodom and Gomorrah." The two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in both the Bible and Torah as being cities of sin that were judged and consumed by fire and brimstone sent by God as punishment.


On page 13, one of the Satanist men (I can't tell which one, they all three look the same!) is wearing a shirt with the Motörhead image of Snaggletooth on it. Motörhead was a British heavy metal band active from 1975-2015. Snaggletooth (or sometimes War Pig) is the name of the fanged demon face that serves as the band's symbol.


On page 17, Jayne says the Twins made a deal with Cuba to acquire the nuclear missiles left behind there after the missile crisis. This refers to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 16–28, 1962, when the Soviet Union attempted to place nuclear missiles in Cuba, threatening U.S. security. However, the treaty that ended the crisis required the Soviets to remove all their missiles from Cuba and is generally believed to have been successful, leaving no missiles behind. 


The sign welcoming Snake and Jayne as they drive across the state border into South Carolina is very similar to actual welcome road signs used by the state currently. (Sign photo by Jim Burke at Flickr.)
Welcome to South Carolina Welcome to South Carolina


On page 18, Snake appears to have finally removed the countdown timer from his left wrist. (However, it inexplicably returns next issue at the beginning of "Freedom Isn't Free"!)


On page 18, part of the wall surrounding the Crucible appears to be made out of the metal of the USS Indianapolis, a U.S. nuclear submarine in operation from 1977-1998.


Entering the Crucible to get into Florida on page 19, the P.A. system tells Snake, "Please follow the orange line to begin your immigration process." In Escape from New York, Snake was also told to follow an orange line for processing into New York Maximum Security Penitentiary.


The gun Snake grabs up in his right hand on page 19 appears to be an Uzi. The general Uzi line of weapons was designed by Israeli Captain Uziel Gal in the late 1940s and named after him.


On page 21, one of the Russian nuclear missiles acquired from Cuba by the F.R.F. is seen planted in the ground along the Florida border as Snake exits the Crucible arena.


The F.R.F. soldiers on page 21 are carrying M-16 variant machine guns.


In the final panel of the issue, Snake meets the Twins who run Florida. They call themselves Romulus and Remus. In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the twin brothers who founded Rome.

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