"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Ghostbusters #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz
Illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith, and Dan Schoening
2014, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on October 22nd, 2014
Growing up, my two favorite things were Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had a mountain of toys from both franchises (although I never got the Technodrome) and I watched the VHS tapes of the movies and cartoons over and over again. I even had the "Coming Out of Our Shell" tour video. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that these two titans of my childhood would crossover, but IDW Publishing did just that in a new mini-series dubbed simply Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Ghostbusters.
The four-issue mini-series picks up with the Donatello testing out a new teleportation device that goes haywire for the goofiest of reasons. Instead of being transported to their underground lair, the Turtles, April O'Neill, and Casey Jones are sent to an alternate version of their own New York City. This one has a ghost problem. There's an ancient spirit that is somehow involved in all this that the two teams will have to join forces to stop, but that's about the gist of the book. Yes, the premise is a little flimsy, but the nostalgia factor more than makes up for it.
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There's no real reason provided as to why Donatello wants to build this teleportation device. Aside from this, Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz have crafted a comic filled with smart dialogue and references to pop culture that hits on all marks. The pair have been working with these characters for some time, so opening this book feels like popping in those old VHS tapes (or an upgraded Blu-ray) all over again. While the two groups don't really interact much in this first issue, there's one point when the Turtles encounter their first ghost that feels so perfect to the characters. Donatello is adamant that this is not a ghost. His scientific mind cannot accept this. He has to come up with another reason to explain what this is because ghosts can't possibly be real. Granted, this is coming from a five foot tall anthropomorphic turtle trained in the ways of the ninja, but you get what I mean.
The artwork on TMNT / Ghostbusters is split up amongst Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith, and Dan Schoening. This works for story purposes as Charles Paul Wilson III handles the flashback scene at the front of the book, Cory Smith takes care of the scenes in the Turtle world, and Schoening illustrates the final pages when everyone is in Ghostbusters land. This provides a visual difference for each dimension, helping to distinguish them from one another.
All of the artwork is pretty solid, but Schoening takes the cake. He has a great style that has been a mainstay of the Ghostbusters comics for some time. It perfectly captures the essence of each character. What's interesting is that his take on the Turtles comes across as a bit grittier than the rounded, cartoon-like look of the Ghostbusters. This further shows the difference between the different dimensions. Schoening also gets bonus points for including the Bug-Eye Ghost, which was a Ghostbusters toy that I still have that features a large eyeball in the center of its forehead that would shoot out when you squeezed it.
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There are eight variant covers for this issue, including one from TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman. Schoening's regular cover is pretty sweet, showcasing all of the members of both teams. My favorite is probably the Heroes' Haven cover by Ozzy Fernandez and Tony Kordos, showing all of the characters in the sewer covered in slime with Slimer popping a karate pose while sporting a bandana like the Turtles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Ghostbusters is the answer to so many of my childhood dreams. Granted, I would have loved this comic even if it was just 20 pages of the two teams talking over pizza, but fortunately it's a pretty good story with some dynamite artwork. We'll see how quickly they get through the typical team up stages. Judging from my calculations, the next step is a fight between the two groups before they realize they're on the same team and then join forces to stop the bad guy. As long as Raphael trades quips with Venkman, I'm fine with that.