Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ghostbusters #1: A Review

Ghostbusters #1

Written by Erik Burnham

Art by Dan Schoening

Back-up story by Tristan Jones

Edited by Tom Waltz

IDW Publishing

IDW has this thing where they take franchises that I love and make great comics out of them.

I’ve followed their GHOSTBUSTERS comics on and off, but I’ve been looking forward to this book getting an on-going tale for a long time. The miniseries and one-shots were good (particularly GHOSTBUSTERS: INFESTATION, the tie-in to IDW’s company-wide crossover of their licensed properties), but I couldn’t help feeling that these characters needed more page time to come into their own in the comics. Instead of an explosion of plot, a quick resolution, and a tasty sprinkling of banter, the idea of an on-going series seemed to be the perfect venue to finally allow these classic film characters make the big transition to the page.

Erik Burnham, writer of this new series as well as INFESTATION, steps up to the plate in a big way. He makes the series friendly to new readers, starting off with a dream sequence that reintroduces the four leads while also expertly setting up things to come, but old fans will find these pages completely dripping in references to the past. Not only the movies, though. There’s a nice nod to INFESTATION in a scene where a guy working for the Stay Puft company says, “Well, I’d like to argue that it’s free advertising. Yes, even wit the zombies. It’s not as though it destroyed (Manhattan).”

As you’ve probably seen floating around the comic circuit, there is a scene in the opening dream sequence that reunites Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. LINK HERE. The book is just loaded with these moments, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun, but I think the best writing comes from when these characters just have a few panels to interact. My favorite scene is when Winston takes Venkman to bust the hell out of a particularly slimy ghost. On the way there, the banter between Venkman and Winston is great as Venkman slowly realizes that his kid-loving partner is taking them on a mission that they’re not getting paid for. It’s the small, funny moments that make this feel like the movies at their best.

The art is fantastic. It’s cartoony and stylized, which a lot of folks tend to dislike when it comes to capturing likenesses, but I can’t see anyone complaining about this stuff. The characters are perfectly captured by Dapper Dan Shoening here. From the facial expressions down to the movements, it’s clear that the Shoening/Ghostbusters relationship is gonna be a great one. There’s a reason why that pitch for the on-going GHOSTBUSTERS series that never was got so popular, and it’s because of Shoening’s amazing, amazing art.

There’s also a backup story by Tristan Jones, and it seems to be the beginning of a device to showcase content from the files of the Ghostbusters. I’m not sure if it’s going to be done in a narrative way as this was, but it seems like an interesting way to give readers some more content.

Ah. This looks like it’s the start of a beautiful relationship.

Also, this review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the callback to “Are you a god?” Poor Ray. There really is no right answer to that question.

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