Now’s a pretty good time to be a Ghostbusters fan. Every episode of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series is available on DVD, both movies are streaming on Netflix, the video games are still regarded as big hits, and the amount of Ghostbusters merchandise now available seems to be at an all-time high (Exhibit A). Oh, and Dan Aykroyd is still threatening to make that third movie (Although, to paraphrase Egon Spengler, the more I read about that project, the more I’m convinced it’s part of a bizarre ritual to bring about the end of the world). But with the third movie in development hell, there’s only one place where fans can go to find new Ghostbusters stories – the comic book shop!
Last September, IDW kicked off a new monthly Ghostbusters comic book series. I’ve read a lot of good stuff about the series, and my comic book illustrator pal, Nate (who would walk around with an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back every day if he could), recommended I check it out. So I did! I picked up a copy of the latest issue, Ghostbusters #8, today.
I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan. I’ve seen both movies at least 100 times each, I quote Peter Venkman in my daily life, and I collected all the Real Ghostbsusters toys when I was a kid (Yes, even the Screaming Heroes figures). I even collected every issue of The Real Ghostbusters Starring in Ghostbusters II comic, which blew my mind when I was ten years old (Actually it still kind of blows my mind now, I mean LOOK AT IT!). So it was only a matter of time until I started reading the IDW series.
Ghostbusters #8 is billed as a standalone story, or a one-off, and it comes on the heels of a multi-part adventure, which I haven’t read. Luckily, there’s enough clever exposition layered throughout the issue to bring new readers up to speed with the goings on at the firehouse and the hotbed of supernatural activity that is New York City. The issue centers on Egon and his obsessive quest to find out why the PKE (psychokinetic energy) rate has spiked in the city. The PKE spike is making life difficult for the boys by giving the ghosts around town a spooky power boost. What used to be run of the mill zap-and-trap jobs have now turned very, very dangerous, as we see in the opening panels.
This is a great nerdy setup for a Ghostbusters story. It’s rooted in the cool spectral science and mythology the franchise has built since the original movie, and it focuses on Egon, even delving into his past a bit. (It’s always fun to learn about the boys’ lives before they became professional paranormal investigators.) The dialogue is snappy and streamlined, which is good for a sci-fi comedy comic, and there are plenty of clever Venkman one-liners packed into the short story. The tone is spot on – the book feels less realistic than the movies, but not as cartoony as the animated series, which I appreciated. The artwork is highly stylized and very cartoony, which younger readers will probably enjoy, but the dialogue and the jokes are sophisticated enough to keep adult readers engaged and entertained.
This issue, as far as I can tell, is the first part of a new story arc that we’ll see play out over the next few months. Since issue #8 is mostly setup, it’s not all that exciting. All of the action is relegated to the first few pages, and the rest of the issue is mostly devoted to Egon’s solo quest to solve the big mystery of the surge in PKE activity. The other characters – Venkman, Ray, Winston and Janine – don’t do much but stand around and comment on Egon’s obsessive behavior (And Slimer is nowhere to be seen). The mystery is intriguing, though, and the ending of the issue sets up what could be a great multi-episode arc; Egon’s investigation leads him to reconnect with an old friend who he thought was long dead. The friend tells a wonderfully strange and twisted story that explains why he’s still alive and, possibly, why the PKE levels in NYC are burying the scale.
This wasn’t the OMG THIS IS SO AWESOME I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE start I was hoping for, but I’m looking forward to the next entry in the new IDW series, penned by Eric Burnham with art by Dan Schoening. These books could easily get by on nostalgia and repeat the same old stories and jokes from the movies and TV show, but that’s not what this series is about. I love that IDW and the book’s creators seem interested in telling new Ghostbusters stories and exploring the ongoing relationships and the history of the sci-fi team I became obsessed with back in 1984.
Check out some panels from Ghostbusters #8 here.