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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Snake Plissken Chronicles: Up and Running The Snake Plissken Chronicles
"Up and Running"
The Adventures of Snake Plissken #1
Marvel Comics
Words: Len Kaminski
Pencils: Rod Whigham
Inks: Stephen Baskerville
Letters: edd fear <NMe>
Colors: George Cox
Cover: Dan Brereton
January 1997


In Chicago, Snake is chased down by the USPF’s proclaimed "future of law enforcement"—the Autonomous Tracking and Combat System (ATACS) robot.


Story Summary


In Chicago, Snake meets up with Eric "Ebola" Sasmor at a smoker's bar to sell some metaviruses he has recently stolen from the Centers for Disease Control. But Sasmor has sold him out to the USPF, who burst in suddenly. Snake escapes the bar, but the police have sent a prototype robot, the Autonomous Tracking and Combat System (A.T.A.C.S.), after him. The robot has been programmed with Snake's own personality matrix and is thus able to predict his moves. A.T.A.C.S. predicts that Snake will attempt to get revenge against Sasmor and surprises him there in the process. A battle ensues and Snake damages A.T.A.C.S. with an iron rod through its head. Damaged, the robot must reboot, only now it has rebooted with an essentially complete Snake personality and now sees the government as the enemy. As Snake flees, he meets a like-minded young woman in an alley and she gives him a cerimasteel knife that will cut through anything. When A.T.A.C.S. catches up, Snake damages its arm with the knife, causing it to drop its ultra-powerful rifle. The robot refrains from killing him, explaining how it is now a copy of him. But Snake grabs the robot's ultra-powerful rifle and blows it to pieces, proclaiming, "I don't need the competition."


Snake returns the knife to the woman, who asks where he's headed next. Snake says, "You tell me. There any place worth a damn left?" She responds, "I dunno. I hear Cleveland's nice this time of year..."




Notes from the Snake Plissken Chronology


This story takes place shortly before the events of "Get the Hell Off My Lawn", which is set in 2011.


Didja Know?


The Adventures of Snake Plissken was a one-shot comic book published by Marvel Comics a few months after the release of the film Escape from L.A.


Characters appearing in this issue


Snake Plissken

Johnny Qabala



Dr. Fry

Ms. Tanzer

Eric "Ebola" Sasmor





Didja Notice?


Page 1 implies that the majority of television entertainment in the United States is produced and/or broadcast by the United States Department of Entertainment (obviously a fictitious institution).


Bowling for Jesus is pre-empted for a special edition of America's Most Hunted about the search for Snake Plissken. Bowling for Jesus is a play on the series of local TV game shows called Bowling for Dollars which aired in cities and towns across the country from the 1960s-2008. America's Most Hunted is a play on the television news/crime program America's Most Wanted, which ran 1988-2012 and presented real life cases of wanted criminal suspects.


The America's Most Hunted program begins with the text "U.S.P.F. Presents...America's Most Hunted" on the screen, implying the USPF itself produces the program.


The story opens in a bar called Dapper Dan's Smoke Easy. A smokeasy is a business establishment that allows its patrons to smoke tobacco products in a region that has an official ban on the use of such products due law or public health regulations. Escape from L.A. also depicts tobacco as illegal in the U.S.


On page 1, on hearing the television report on Snake, one of the bar patrons says, "Snake Plissken? I heard he was dead." Another responds, "Nah...they say he ain't as tall as he usedta be tho'." These lines are, of course, references to the running gags that appeared in Escape From New York and Escape from L.A., respectively.


America's Most Hunted reports that Snake has recently stolen millions in engineered metaviruses from Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a U.S. federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services established to protect national public health and conduct research on public health hazards.


The bar patrons comment on a couple of rumors that Snake is laying low in Lima or is with the Yakuza in Chiba City. "Lima" is presumably a reference to the capital city of Peru. Chiba is the capital city of Chiba Prefecture, Japan. The Yakuza is an organized crime syndicate in Japan.


As the USPF raid the bar on page 3, a patron complains, "First they deport Chip Carter, now this..." This is probably a reference to James "Chip" Carter III, son of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (from 1977-1981), who has long been rumored to have smoked a marijuana joint with country music legend Willie Nelson on the roof of the White House in 1978.


On page 4, the leader of the USPF strike team shouts, "Plissken has left the building!" This is a play on the popular U.S. colloquialism "Elvis has left the building," which was often said at the end of an Elvis Presley concert to help disperse audiences who lingered hoping for an encore performance or chance to meet the legendary rock-and-roller. The reference here may also be an in-joke to the fact the actor Kurt Russell played Elvis in the 1979 TV movie Elvis, directed by John Carpenter, as the two Snake Plissken films have been.


In the background of page 4, a half-obscured poster hanging on a tenement wall says "Join" along with a Christian cross and half-obscured words that probably read "Onward Christian Soldiers". This likely is meant to refer to the theocratic president of the United States in Escape from L.A.


On page 5, Gerhard introduces the Autonomous Tracking and Combat System robot (A.T.A.C.S.) as "the future of law enforcement." The phrase "the future of law enforcement" was also one of the taglines of the 1987 film Robocop.


On page 6, Gerhard mentions that the primary routes out of the city will be covered to help prevent Snake's escape, including the maglev stations. This implies that magnetic levitation trains have become commonplace in the Snake Plissken universe.


On page 7, notice that Sasmor's hideout has cases labeled with the skull-and-crossbones and radiation symbols, indicating that he is in the habit of buying hazardous and toxic materials, just as his business of purchasing metaviruses from Snake implies.


Seeking revenge against Sasmor for selling him out to the USPF, Snake pours a vial of one of the metaviruses into Sasmor's mouth. Within seconds, Sasmor's entire body starts to metamorphosize into an inhuman monstrosity, even sprouting insect-like appendages! Hard to believe a virus to cause such a transformation, but the Snake Plissken universe is fairly satirical in nature. Sasmor's metamorphosis may also be a nod to the transformations of the shape-changing alien creature in The Thing, the 1982 film directed by John Carpenter which also starred Kurt Russell.


On page 9, A.T.A.C.S. begins to rattle off to Snake something akin to the Miranda rights of U.S. citizens in the real world. The robot begins, "You are under arrest. You have the right to repent your sins; you have the right to meet with a member of the clergy; if you cannot afford one, a clergyman will be appointed for--". This is similar to the basic statements of a U.S. citizen's Miranda rights: You have the right to remain silent; Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law; You have the right to an attorney; If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.


The A.T.A.C.S. robot identifies Snake's two guns as Smith and Wesson #22147 models, using tedlar-jacketed .666 caliber ammunition. The gun model and ammunition type are fictitious, though the weapons are based on the Smith and Wesson 629 Hunter. Tedlar is a DuPont brand name for the real world polymer polyvinyl fluoride. Snake carries these same two guns in Escape from L.A.


On page 11, the graffiti on the wall behind the helpless mother and her two children reads, "THEY LIVE, WE SLEEP". This same graffiti is seen in John Carpenter's 1988 film They Live.


On page 15, the young woman who meets Snake in a dark alley has an upside-down cross tattooed on her chest. This is the traditional Cross of St. Peter, but has also become an anti-Christian symbol in modern times. Possibly, its presence as a tattoo on her body is meant to convey that she is against the theocracy of the current U.S. President in the story.


The wastebasket in the alley on page 15 has a sign on it reading "My Kind of Town". This indicates the story takes place in Chicago, just as the young woman says; "My Kind of Town" is a 1964 song about the city of Chicago, the most well-known version having been performed by Frank Sinatra.


The young woman gives Snake a cerimasteel knife with a fractal monomer edge. "Cerimasteel" appears to be a fictitious material. The term originally appeared in the 1993 Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook, as a material used in the construction of vehicle hulls; the sourcebook is a guide for the Star Wars roleplaying game published by West End Games from 1987-1999.


On page 19, a Hexxon building is seen in the background of panel 2. Hexxon is a fictitious corporation, though probably a play on the name of the Exxon corporation, an oil company now going by the name of ExxonMobil.


At the end of the issue, Snake asks the young woman if there's any place worth a damn left and she tells him, "I dunno. I hear Cleveland's nice this time of year..." This lead's nicely into "Get the Hell Off My Lawn", in which Snake is settled near Cleveland in 2011.


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