Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Rachael Scott
Colorists: Luis Antonio Delgado and Anna Chher
With all the hoopla on-line about the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot I thought I’d take a look at what was going on in Ghostbusters comics. I’ll admit I haven’t been what you’d call a Ghostbusters fan for years, though I was pretty into it when I was kid way back in the 80’s and early 90’s (god does that make me feel old!) but with no new movies my fandom moved on to other things. So, with more decades than I’d care to count between me and the last time I saw anything new in Ghostbusters I was surprised to find that IDW’s Ghostbusters International felt as familiar as it did.
For those like me who haven’t been up to date on Ghostbusters in a while, here’s what’s gone before the current IDW books. Since the 80’s there’s been a two cartoon series, Real Ghostbusters (1986-1992) and Extreme Ghostbusters (Sept-Dec 1997) as well as comics from four different publishers and a video game in 2009 that reunited the original film cast to provide the voices.. Out of these, I’d remembered Real Ghostbusters the best (I’d been a huge fan), never saw an issue of the comics, and only watched the video game on Youtube because I’d heard it was widely considered the ‘third movie’. Added on to that since the Ghostbusters property landed at IDW they’ve put out 14 separate one shots and mini-series as well a 16 issue series from 2011-2012 called Ghostbusters: Total Containment. So, when I started Ghostbusters International I figured I’d be totally lost.
Thankfully this was not the case.
Ghostbusters International features the original Ghostbusters cast plus a few extra faces added from the previous IDW works or the cartoons. Set in the current day (although without ageing the main characters) the Ghostbusters operate under contract with the city of New York, and are overseen by law enforcement as well as Ghostbusters (the film) antagonist Walter Peck. In addition they run a number of franchises throughout the US. All of this is easy to pick up on for neophyte readers of the IDW books and facilitates a smooth transition into the series’ main story.
That story sees the Ghostbusters approached by European businessman Erland Vinter who contracts them claiming he wants them to remove ghosts from various international properties he wants to develop. Of course, there’s more to that deal than what it seems and as the team visits sites like the Island of Poveglia and the Louvre they discover the hauntings tie into an ancient grimoire that has the power to control the devil.
I was impressed with Erik Burnham’s writing of the series. He has zeroed in perfectly on each of the character’s voices, so the dialogue rings true. As well he’s clearly done his research about the sites the Ghostbusters visit and the folklore surrounding them. I found myself quickly Googling to learn more about them as I read. While being well researched the stories don’t take themselves too seriously and manage to capture the irreverent humour of the original movies. The art and coloring in this book is also top notch. The characters are recognizable as their movie counterparts without being slavishly done portraits or becoming caricatures. As well the backgrounds, many of which feature famous landmarks, are well drawn and the panel progression is dynamic and keeps the eye moving along the page on pace with the story. In all the books are fun and well put together, but ultimately light fare, much like the movies that spawned them, and, as much as I enjoyed my read of the series, I can’t help but wonder what this creative team could do if given a meatier property to run with. That said I do recommend this series for anyone looking for a some old school Ghostbusters fun. It’s great light reading that keeps you turning the page.
Ghostbusters International #6 is on the shelves now and issues 1-5 are available in trade paperback at your friendly local comic shop and digital versions of both are available online at Comixology.