Review: Ghostbusters #1

Infestation star writer Erik Burnham brings his breezy banter to a new ongoing series, and bustin' makes us feel good.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Ghostbusters #1

Earlier this year, IDW had a big crossover event with their four major franchises called Infestation, and Erik Burnham's Ghostbusters was the most enjoyable read of the bunch.  So it only makes sense that he's back for Ghostbusters #1, the start of a new ongoing series featuring all our old favorites – and not necessarily all those favorites are actually from this movie franchise.

For the uninitiated… wait, seriously?  You're uninitiated?  I don't care when you were born, there's no excuse for you to have not seen Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters, starring Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Ray Stantz, Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler, Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore, Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz, Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett, Rick Moranis as Louis Tully and William Atherton as Walter Peck.  After that, watch Ghostbusters 2.  It's not as good, but it's still good.  Then come back and start reading this series, or at least this review. 

Burnham picks up with the gang long after the events of the sequel, and after the events of Infestation, which featured a tilt between the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and his zombie alter ego. Winston drags Venkman on a pro bono gig for the nephew of Janosz (Peter MacNicol from Ghostbusters 2), a nice kid who thinks his family is cursed, while Egon helps Ray analyze a dream he had that may or may not be a "precognitive episode."  In a great nod Aykroyd's past, the spirit guide that appears to Ray in his vision is none other than Joliet Jake Blues of The Blues Brothers, which is also a reference to the fact that the role of Venkman was originally being written for the late John Belushi, Aykroyd's comedy partner in crime. 

The dialog is breezy fun and amiable, and there's never really that dissonant moment you always expect in an adaptation like this, where the comedy is forced in ways the real-life dudes never did.  The biggest difficulty you'll have trying to get into this book is the very cartoony art from Dan Schoening.  Even that's not that big a problem for a book geared towards the light-hearted, but the fact that Venkman's face looks more like the Heat Miser than Bill Murray is really hard to get used to, and it undercuts his charm.  It makes one miss the stuff Kyle Hotz did in the Infestation crossover.  However, the quick back-up pages from Tristan Jones which re-introduces Walter Peck as a new pain in the Ghostbuster's butts are done in a more typical comic-drama style, and seeing Ol' Dickless rendered all dark and shadowy so he looks like he's gearing up to face the Punisher is actually pretty hilarious. 

Overall, this is a fun opener to a series which has a good deal of potential to help us remember the halcyon days of Ghostbusters and Aykroyd and Ramis at the top of their game, as opposed to the dread one feels at those continuing rumors of a Ghostbusters 3, which would come from the co-writers of Blues Brothers 2000 and Year One.  It could not help but disappoint us all.  Why do we clamor for these long delayed sequels?  Have we not learned our lessons with Star Wars and Indiana Jones?  Keep 'em in comics.  The investment isn't as great and the miscues are much more forgivable.