"Ghostbusters International #8" Comic Review
Written by Angry Scholar
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Erik Burnham
Illustrated by Dan Schoening
Colors by Luis Antonio Delgado and Andrew Harmon
2016, 32 pages, $3.99
Comic released on August 24th, 2016
Ray, Peter and Winston have returned from a sojourn in Ireland to learn that Egon has been vaporized, or at least thrown into an alternate dimension, by the newly-revealed Big Bad, Loftur Thorsteinsson. Thorsteinsson is after a powerful spellbook that will supposedly give him control over Satan himself, and all the international shenanigans the Ghostbusters have been dealing with was actually a front for Thorsteinsson’s quest for the book. Egon, genius that he is, had researched the book previously, and the immortal glowing-eyed Scandinavian sorcerer thinks the brainy Ghostbuster can help him track it down.
The remaining ‘Busters get their hands on Egon’s research notes, but they can’t decipher them. Deciding that only Egon himself could ever understand Egon’s notes, they do what one logically does in such situations: they jump into a parallel dimension, occupied by the 1980s The Real Ghostbusters-versions of themselves. Enlisting that universe’s Egon in their cause, they get down to the business of locating the spellbook and possibly saving their Egon.
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This book is just great, okay? I mean, let’s calls it likes we sees it. Writer Erik Burnham must be a big Ghostbusters fan, because the tone is perfect. Peter is sleazy and wise-crackey; Winston is stoic; Egon is basically Data from Star Trek: TNG with less personality (in a good way); Ray is a goofball. Kylie, the one full-time ‘Buster from the short-lived Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon, gets less stage time, but it’s nice that she’s here. Janine is the same as Janine always is: suuuper pissy (also in a good way). These are the Ghostbusters as they were and could have been again, but without feeling pointlessly nostalgic. (I’m looking at you, Paul Feig.)
And don’t get me wrong: nostalgia is key here, and nowhere more so than when the ‘Busters jump universes to visit their ‘80s counterparts. Normally I hate dimension-hopping, but in this instance it’s handled with such zazz and such delicious nostalgia-pandering that it succeeds. Crazily. When the IDW Ghostbusters hop into the Real Ghostbusters’ universe, we not only see the ‘80s cartoon ‘Busters looking precisely as they do in my memory, down to Egon’s bizarre pompadour/rattail combo, but in fact recreated in such loving detail that I wonder if they actually used original production cels from the cartoon. They even included recognizable ghosts from the beloved ‘80s action-figure series, the “Gooper Ghost” Squisher and Granny Gross Ghost. If you’re a dedicated child of the ‘80s like I am, nostalgia doesn’t get better than this.
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The art in general is great. Dan Schoening’s standard designs for the IDW ‘Busters are perfect, appropriately cartoony and recognizable as the characters they represent, but also sufficiently distinctive to be interesting. He does great backgrounds, too, especially detailed interior scenes. And the ghost designs are just super, incongruously creepy against the goofy humor. Luis Antonio Delgado does some amazing colors, really lending every panel a wonderful Saturday morning cartoon vibe. The light effects are especially stunning. They really make me want a proton-pack.
Ghostbusters International is a solid, solid book, and I hope IDW keeps the franchise going. It’s the most perfect realization of the Ghostbusters since Ghostbusters II. Which #8 references in the form of the photorealistic portrait of Vigo in the background of the ‘Busters’ office. Delightful.