Written by Erik Burnham
Art by Dan Schoening, and Luis Antonio Delgado
Backup story by Tristan Jones
I was born in the 80’s, but oddly enough, not that much nostalgia there. G.I. Joe? Faded memories. He-Man? Never really saw it. Thundercats? Didn’t see it until there were reruns on a cartoon station a few years ago. Those are the big boys, right? The animated icons of the 80’s that people who were kids remember? Those weren’t for me, I was always more of a Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters kid. My favorite cartoon from growing up? The Real Ghostbusters, hands down. My favorite movies? Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2. I have nothing but the best memories, and I’ll tell you what, I wasn’t afraid of any ghosts.
I always wondered how the franchise faded off into obscurity the way that it did. Extreme Ghostbusters wasn’t an awful cartoon, but it felt like a solid ten to fifteen years of just memories. I know there was a comic line when I was in grade school, and I’d heard of the Ghostbusters: Legion miniseries…but that was almost ten years ago itself. There’s always talks of a Ghostbusters 3, and there’ve been a few video games, but it just really hadn’t been enough. The franchise needed some life put back into it; it needed a regular presence, not just a few every couple of years. It needed what this book is giving to it…an ongoing monthly comic. I mean, if they aren’t getting new movies or a cartoon, this is the best thing I can think of.
The book manages to capture so much of the tone of the movies , mainly the humor. The characters aren’t the spitting images of their actors, but I’ll be damned if Peter Venkman isn’t Peter Venkman. That’s the best thing about the issue, the characterization is flawless. Whether compared to the movies or the cartoons, these are the characters I grew up with. Venkman is sarcastic and arrogant, he’s not happy to do something for free “again”, but he’s the funny one…and the one who has no issue telling someone off. Winston is an everyman, in this canon without the doctorate he sometimes gets tagged with, who shows an affinity for helping people without asking for compensation, he’s still the normal one. Egon is still a socially inept super genius, who is shorted on page time in this issue, but is still given a nice little joke with Ray to remind us that…Egon probably would cut somebody’s head open before remembering the MRI machine. And then there’s Ray, good old lovable Ray, the heart and sould of the team who will always be just a really big kid at heart. He created the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!
There isn’t a ton that happens in this issue, save for establishing where our characters are at. The book opens with a dream sequence that allows Ray to relive parts of the first movie and discover that to some questions, there are no right answers. The dream comes to a close with a face that is familiar to fans of Dan Aykroyd, though has nothing at all to do with Ghostbusters; I mean, you will never see me complain about a random appearance by Jake Blues. Especially in an eerie ghost form that may or may not be telling Ray the future. There’s some downtime in the book, a lot of characterization, and a few hints towards the plot going forward. In other words, we see ghosts tormenting people. Winston accepts a job from a kid whose mom brings them free baklava as a thanks (his uncle is the crazy foreign guy from the museum in Ghostbusters 2), because he’s the kind of a guy. Venkman isn’t too pleased at doing the work for free, but this kid has it rough enough. They can clear some ghosts out for him and his mom.
The art is great. It’s got a cartoony tone that makes the book feel animated, but not silly. I mean, it’s a fun book, animated works for it. The book never takes itself too seriously during the main story, and so a more colorful and playful tone really does welcome you in. The character designs for our main characters works pretty nicely, though I’ll admit that Winston’s mustache makes it impossible for me to take him seriously at all. He looks like a goof. The scenes with ghosts, or even just the slimed over buildings, look really cool, and it’s clear how much more can be added to this franchise through the medium. Even in animation you tend to see focus kept to the foreground, but the slimed scenes at the end really show off just how messy everything has gotten.
The movies were rated PG, the cartoon was a Saturday morning one for kids (that I watched when I was in the single digits), and I’m not surprised that this book has an all ages tone about it. While yes, all the kids who grew up with our in our twenties and thirties, that’s no reason to cater exclusively to us. The movies and cartoon aged well, hell, I’m planning on buying the cartoon box set for my nephew for his birthday next year. It’s still fun for all ages, and really, the comic needs to be too. I’m a proponent for material aimed at older audiences (and not just Vertigo), but not in this case.
Which actually brings me to the backup story (which I almost forgot to write about). The back up story has a darker tone and grittier art, and actually feels more like the X-Files. It features everyone’s favorite EPA d-bag Walter Peck, and it makes me wonder what’s coming next. He’s part of an organization that oversees paranormal activities (near as I can tell), and he’s already Venkman’s arch-enemy. This can only lead to cool stuff.
Ghostbusters is a fun book that retains the feel of the characters we’ve all known and loved for so long, and I honestly believe that any fan would enjoy it.
Tags: Erik Burnham, Ghostbusters, IDW, Reviews