In Review: Ghostbusters 101 #2

The visuals are excellent, but the story could be progressing more quickly.

The covers: A trio of covers to catch before they scramble away to the netherworlds. The Regular cover is by Dan Schoening with colors by Luis Antonio Delgado and this continues the puzzle covers that connect to feature a map of New York City with several of the characters running across it. This cover features Winston, Kylie, and Abby. I love Schoening’s art and Delgado’s colors make the characters pop up off the map. Worth getting. The Subscription cover is by Tim Lattie and Delgado and features a nod to another popular Bill Murray film, Stripes. Patty and Erin stand before a gigantic poster of Venkman that’s pointing at them ala Uncle Sam. This is take on the poster used to promote the film Stripes. This is okay, but Venkman is really stylized and Patty and Erin aren’t quickly identifiable. Having the colors create a shadow across the poster dulls its impact. The Retailer Incentive Wraparound Photo cover features a terrific image of Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann, while on the back a close-up of Harold Ramis is shown as Egon Spengler. In the bottom left it says, “Ghost Corps.” I love both these characters and this was the cover I had to pick up and use to accompany this review. Overall grades: Regular A, Subscription C+, and Retailer Incentive Wraparound Photo A+

The story: If readers missed out on the first issue, writer Erik Burnham makes this issue easily accessible. There’s a one page summary that states what occurred last issue, followed by two pages that show images of all the characters and gives them a brief summary. These two pages are necessary because there are sixteen individuals to remember, with two more introduced in this issue. That said, once the book begins it’s very simple to follow the story line, so don’t be intimidated! Stryker Beach Golf Course in Brooklyn has a trio of golfers have their game ruined by a spirit that catches one of their balls and then pummels them with the dimpled orbs. Side note: these golfers and the location should be very familiar. The Ghostbusters are called and Abby, Jillian, and Patty are on the scene. Jillian makes a great opening comment and is reprimanded by Abby. Jillian spies one of the course’s members and whispers, “Come on, did you see that guy’s face? In the corner? $20 says I can make him fall over.” As they search for the poltergeist, Abby tells Patty she hopes they can bag a specimen for study, rather than destroy it. Patty reassures her they will, and that’s when they come upon Jillian who’s obliterated it. Back at headquarters, Erin is going over the books, telling herself that doing so is the cornerstone of a good business. She doesn’t get far before needing to talk to Kevin, which has things quickly going downhill. The story then moves to the other Ghostbusters, in their dimension, showing that Venkman’s plan has resulted in a commercial. The dialogue in the first panel on Page 7 made me laugh out loud. Once concluded, a new character is introduced and he’s quickly brought into the fold with the other newbies. This is the focus of this issue, this new character. I like him and I was taken with how well Burnham is able to make a character with an incredibly serious backstory fit in with the others so well — impressive. Pages 15 and 16 have the only tension of the issue, and that’s just not enough; it’s good, but too quick. The Ghostbusters still aren’t aware of each other’s existence, though the last page teases that the walls are beginning to drop. This is a good read, but Burnham seems to be still sitting up the pieces of this story, rather than moving it forward. Overall grade: B

The art: Dan Schoening is a terrific artist. His versions of these characters are original, yet resemble the actors just enough to be familiar. It was nice to see the newest incarnation of the Ghostbusters get more time in this issue. Schoening has captured the humor in Abby, without going overboard, and I really like the looks she gives to Jillian when trying to reign her in. Jillian is absolutely as nutty as Kate McKinnon was in the film. Her posture in the final panel on 3 and the second panel on 4 is perfect. There’s a spectacular visual joke involving Kevin on 5 that starts subtly and is hilarious by the end of the page. The two page commercial sequence is very reminiscent of the commercial from the original film, with the last panel bringing a smile to my face. The new character debuts on 9 and he’s visually heartbreaking, even before he speaks. Thankfully he has a breakout moment on 17 that brightens him and makes him more relatable to the reader. Besides the opening spirits on the golf course, there are two other supernatural specters: the first is done for humorous effect, with the latter being a grotesque ghost that hopefully returns to challenge both teams. The final page of the book has four panels that show some excellent movement and foreshadows things to come. The book ends with a character in close-up within a circular panel. I’m a sucker for these panels, as they create such a classic tone to any book. Ending the book with this character, saying that line, in that panel, is excellent. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors on this book are really well done. Luis Antonio Delgado uses his talents to make the spirits explode off the page, with the golf ghost creepy in red and the final creature in ghastly yellows. This monster is also notable for having black dialogue balloons to further make it look inhuman. The vivid blue skies of the golf course are a terrific backdrop for the Ghostbusters to stand out on the opening pages. The headquarters of the ‘busters is very realistic with its coloring, yet Delgado is able to make the characters remain the focus of each panel. Colors really get vivid when a new construction in the laboratory is again turned on. These bright colors really separate this room from the rest of the headquarters and foreshadow what lurks on the other side of the opening. Delgado’s work is strong. Overall grade: A

The letters: Shawn Lee creates scene settings and dialogue (the same font), symbolic profanity, sounds, text on a television commercial, ghostly dialogue, and a yell. The scene setting identifiers should be in a different font from the dialogue, as they are two different forms of communication; they’re separated by the colors of their balloons, instead. The profanity on the opening page is funny and good to see, since most books today decide just to print the foul language. The ghostly dialogue is fantastic, increasing the speaker’s ominous nature visually. Overall grade: A

The final line: The visuals are excellent, but the story could be progressing more quickly. Not much tension in this issue, just more setting up of characters. Enjoyable, but I want the characters to have met and the threat to have been clearly established. 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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