Does IDW's first issue of its new ongoing of the Columbia Pictures franchise meet expectations? Guest Reviewer James Irish warms up his PKE Meter and finds out!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written By: Erik Burnham
Pencils and Cover By: Dan Schoening
Colors By: Luis A. Delgado
Back-Up Story By: Tristan Jones
IDW Publishing has scooped up a multitude of licenses over the past few years, ranging from '80s nostalgia (Transformers, GI Joe) to more vintage sci-fi properties (Star Trek, Doctor Who). Ghostbusters is almost a middle ground of both, and brings with it a separate set of challenges: part of the expectations that come with the franchise is being funny in addition to the sci-fi elements. Erik Burnham manages to do both with a wickedly entertaining debut issue for the ongoing series.
Taking place in 1993, following the events of the first two movies, the book opens with a quick introduction to who the characters are before moving into the main story, and the first six pages alone are just an absolute treat to fans of not only the movies, but also those who are familiar with Dan Aykroyd's other work. The script moves along at a brisk, enjoyable pace, moving forward with dialogue consistent with the characters' portrayal in the films. And while you'd expect the interplay of Stanz, Venkman and Spengler to steal the show, in fact it's Winston Zeddmore who shares some of the best moments with Peter Venkman. I think this is promising, since Zeddmore was woefully underexplored in the movies compared to his co-stars, and makes a great counterbalance to his more "out there" partners.
Dan Schoening's art is a good balance of influences, taking just enough of the cartoony look of the Real Ghostbusters series while still making the characters look like the actors who portrayed them in the films. This gives the comic a lively animated look that matches the humor well and allows the characters a wide range of readable expressions. Luis Delgado matches the look with a vibrant color palette that matches what every scene calls for, be it a brightly lit television studio or a dark apartment filled with ectoplasmic activity. The combination of these two only backfires when the script calls for a good scare towards the middle, as I didn't find it quite on par with the creepiness evoked by similar scenes early on in the films. Much more effective, though, is the lead-up to the cliffhanger, which builds a nice sense of danger for the protagonists.
The back-up story is far more realistic in it's art, as Tristan Jones shows us how City Hall is reacting to the increase in activity, presumably in the wake of the past mini-series that IDW has published, but having not read them I can't confirm that. This one is devoid of humor, but I think that was the point, considering the subject of the story, which I won't spoil.
Folks, I cannot say this enough: this book does not deserve to get lost in the shuffle of the New 52, Fear Itself, Schism and all the other major goings-on with the Big Two. The $3.99 price tag may be a tad steep, but in a book with no ads from a mid-tier publisher, it's to be expected. Regardless of price, IDW has a winner on its hands, and I give this book four and a half stars. Pick this book up, and be ready to believe me!!
Review by: James M. Irish