In Review: Ghostbusters 101 #1

An impressive debut that has plenty of laughs and thrills for fans of the films.

The covers: This introductory issue has five covers to scare up and lock up in one’s collection. The Regular cover is by Dan Schoening with Luis Antonio Delgado on colors. This cover is the first piece of a series of connecting covers that show a map of New York City with several of the characters running in front of it. On this first issue is Peter Venkman, Erin Gilbert, and a character I don’t recognize. I’ve seen the image online of all the covers connected and it looks really neat. My hat is off to IDW for doing this with the Regular covers, so that everyone can collect them. The Subscription Cover A is by Tim Lattie and Delgado. This is a nice take on the classic Back to the Future image, but reversed. Ecto-1 is on the right side, with Jillian Holtzmann in Marty’s position and Egon Spengler in Doc’s. I like the design of this and the coloring and it’s the one I purchased. The Subscription Cover B is by Erica Henderson. Patty Tolan looks with disdain at Kevin Beckman, who’s trying to play nice with one of Zuul’s terror dogs. Unfortunately neither one of them is looking behind them to see that the first Ghostbuster super spirit is climbing up the building. The artwork on this is good, but the coloring is too dark to see all the details in the art. Dark blue should have been used to create the evening. The Retailer Incentive Wraparound Photo cover features the cast of the latest Ghostbusters film: Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones. This is a great shot of all four of them, in bustin’ gear, on a white background. The final cover is the Convention Variant Wraparound Photo cover. This features the cast of the classic film: Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, and Dan Aykroyd. They, too, are in the bustin’ gear, but they’re leaning on Ecto-1, partially covered in marshmallow goo. The photo is framed at the top and the bottom in drawn in green slime. Another good cover. Overall grades: Regular A, Subscription A A, Subscription B C-, Retailer Incentive Wraparound Photo A+, and Convention Variant Wraparound Photo A

The story: The first page brings new readers up to speed how this series is going to be possible for both incarnations of the Ghostbusters to meet. Two pages follow that give pictures and descriptions of the fifteen characters that are going to be in this series. It’s been a while since I’ve read a Ghostbusters comic, so I’m grateful for its inclusion. The story begins at Luna Park, a Coney Island attraction from 1903 – 1944. Jonas Schultz died this morning and his wish, as a ghost, is to bring it back. The massive structures are gorgeous, glowing in bright golds, which causes Peter some unhappiness since he doesn’t like dealing with ghosts that actually bring goodness. Still, he tells Winston, better on the ground than in the sewers with Egon and Ray. That pair have come across a huge repository of the pink postively charged protoplasm, as seen in Ghostbusters II. They realize they have to shut down the positive muck before it causes any more damage. “Better hit it with some negative vibes to even it out first, that’ll make it easier to transport,” says Ray. Egon helps, but not in the way Ray imagined. Above ground, Ray and Winston capture Schultz and all seems good until a large sound knocks the pair down and stuff happens. Writer Erik Burnham has perfectly captured the voices of both film casts. If these characters were just sitting in a room talking, I have no doubt that Burnham could make that entertaining. Highlights include Peter’s lines and Patty and Jillian on a job. Burnham has also crafted a very slick way for both casts to interact, preserving all the previous comic adventures of the Ghostbusters at IDW. Though this meeting doesn’t happen in this issue, the seed has been planted. I’m really looking forward to seeing where Burnham is going to take this. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Dan Schoening’s artwork looks like stills from an animated film. Out of the gate, readers should be told that his characters do not resemble the actors. Instead, they are cartoon versions of the characters, but there is enough of the actors in his versions to be more than acceptable. The first page is an exceptional full paged splash of ghostly Jonas Schultz hovering above the Luna Park he’s recreated. The visual joke in the last two panels on Page 3 made me laugh out loud. The interiors of the Ghostbusters headquarters are really well done, with tons of details in every panel it’s shown. I really liked the Ecto-Containment Unit, which has grown considerably from the films. The dimensional doorway was very cool, with the visuals on 11 showing it used. When the characters place certain body parts through the doorway there’s a neat electrical effect that surrounds them. When something unexpected is about to pass through this door, the tension that Schoening creates is superb, with the final panel on 14 making me exhale in relief. The visual tease in the third panel on 15 foreshadows that something will happen, most likely next issue. Peter’s body language while Peck speaks with the Ghostbusters on 8 and 9 is fantastic, as is the wise guy grin that’s perpetually on his face. Page 17 has a very funny visual with Patty and Jillian. However, the funniest visual of the book is what Kevin has found to wear and what he’s doing once he’s got his new outfit on. Schoening can do no wrong on this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Making Schoening’s visuals come to life are the sensational colors by Luis Antonio Delgado. The first page is instantly recognized as supernatural by the reader due to the ghostly pallor of Schultz, while the golden structures seem too bright to be true. The lighting effects done on Ray and Egon in the sewer is terrific: notice how white they are when they’re using their flashlights, but turn purplish when they discover the good slime. The brightly colored sound on the third page still makes me laugh out loud because of  the attention it draws. Throughout the book, colors are used to provide shading on the characters’ skin, giving them an excellent sense of depth. This is particularly true of the individuals in the Ecto-Containment Unit room and with Abby and Erin. Delgado makes the proceedings seem real. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Neil Uyetake creates narration, dialogue, transmissions (the same font), ghostly speech, and sounds. Uyetake’s work is fine, but I would have preferred to see different fonts used for narration, dialogue, and transmissions, rather than their balloon’s shape or color used to differ them. Overall grade: B 

The final line: An impressive debut that has plenty of laughs and thrills for fans of the films. The only thing you have to be afraid of is missing the next issue. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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