"Counter Terror #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by ComixTribe
Written by Tyler James
Illustrated by Joe Mulvey
2015, 32 Pages
We all love Ghostbusters, right? That’s a given. What’s not to love about a few guys shooting laser beams at hilarious spirits like Slimer? The thing they never really addressed about all those ghosts is that they represent tons of dead people. We just laughed when Ray’s pants were undone by some horny she-ghost. What if these spirits were more than just gluttonous blobs? What if they were weaponized? That’s just scraping the surface of Counter Terror, a new series from Tyler James and Joe Mulvey out of ComixTribe, which has been described as “Ghostbusters meets 24.”
The book picks up ten years after an event called “The Blackest Swan.” We get a glimpse of this catastrophe in the opening pages. It appears to be when a portal was torn open between our world and the next, allowing all kinds of horrible things to come through. In the time since, the world has changed drastically and the human race has come to terms with the fact that ghosts are very real. They are used as weapons by terrorists and there are special forces developed to counter them. Counter Terror drops a whole lot of information in its first issue, but it never feels like someone is rattling off exposition at you. It all comes up organically and each piece is more interesting than the last.
We’re quickly introduced to a Skeleton Crew, a group of soldiers trained to take down ghosts. They are a far better trained team than Venkman, Spengler, and the rest. There are no worries about crossing the streams here. They come into contact with a suicide bomber, equipped with a vest that creates a veil breach, allowing violent spectrals to come through. It’s a pretty terrifying concept when you think about it.
The members of the Skeleton Crew are crass and filled with a dark sense of humor. You’d probably have to be if you literally encounter death every day for a living. There are a few stereotypical characters in this mix such as Vernard “Boulder” Lewis, who reminds me of Terry Crews’ character from The Expendables. He’s a big guy and he carries an even bigger gun…and he talks to it.
While the consequences are certainly dire in a movie like Ghostbusters, we see firsthand what these soldiers are up against in Counter Terror. People aren’t meant to see what lurks on the other side of this world and live to tell about it. We see the results when someone gets too close to a breach with a series of panels closing in on the face. We don’t actually see what’s on the other end, but seeing blisters pop all over the face and tears well up in the eyes is horrifying. It allows the mind to fill in the blanks of what is going on and holy crap is it scary.
Artist Joe Mulvey delivers some haunting (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!) images across Counter Terror. There’s a great two-page spread of the aforementioned vest detonating and the spectrals flying every which way. They’re all different and each would be at home on the cover of a metal album. They’re demonic or skeletal, most with rows of jagged teeth. Their eyes are vacant sockets. There’s another great spread at the beginning of the issue, where we see the devastation caused by The Blackest Swan. It’s like something out of a Roland Emmerich movie.
What really sets Counter Terror apart is the last page of this issue. Of course, I’m not going to spoil it here. Suffice it to say that it reframes the entire story and will hit you right in the gut. It’s the kind of ending that will leave you begging for more.
So does Counter Terror deliver on the “Ghostbusters meets 24” logline? Absolutely. This is a dense first issue, but you will be fully entrenched within this world and everything about it. Tyler James and Joe Mulvey have produced a paranormal blockbuster packed with action, horror, and heart. The phrase “Ain’t afraid of no ghosts” does not apply in this scenario.