Review | ‘Ghostbusters 101 #1’
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Dan Schoening
Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado
"Let's Do The Space-Warp Again!" Before they began investigating the supernatural, most of the original Ghostbusters were teachers... and they've decided it's time they start sharing their knowledge again. But when their first batch of students start poking around the firehouse and accidentally set in motion the merging of two universes (it's easier than you'd think) Venkman, Stantz, Zeddemore, and Spengler will need all the help they can get to put things right! And who do you think will Answer The Call? (If you guessed Holtzmann, Yates, Tolan, and Gilbert... you get a gold star!) It's a brand new inter-dimensional meeting of the minds, starting here!
The Ghostbusters team from the 2016 movie in print for the first time!
March 22, 2017
- Snappy banter between familiar characters
- The comic book introduction of new fan favorites
- Crisp, lively artwork
- Exposition heavy
- Many references to earlier issues
I know this review is a little late considering the issue has been in shops for a couple of weeks now but I really need to talk about Ghostbusters 101. Since IDW announced the title, I’ve eagerly awaited its release. It marks a big step for Ghostbusters as merges the original team with the team from the 2016 reboot movie in comic form.
As the intro to a 6-part limited series, the first issue sets the stage perfectly. There’s not much in the way of action, though the first few pages do pull the reader in quite well. They also serve to introduce new readers to the personalities of the original team of Ghostbusters.
From there we get a glimpse at Walter Peck, the Ghostbusters’s government liaison, and the first seeds of the story arc take root. Basically, the team needs to deviate from their paranormal investigation and elimination and go the route of educators to produce additional revenue. I know it sounds very droll, and for the most part it is. But writer Erik Burnham realizes this and takes the time to poke a little fun at it to help lighten the mood.
Before I get more into Burnham’s writing, let me say that I’m a big fan of Dan Schoening’s art. He takes a lot of inspiration from the actors’ looks from the film but interprets them in his own way. This makes the comic characters feel like separate entities even though the comics relies heavily on the lore of the film. To contrast that, he draws the new team in the spitting image of the actresses, which helps pull the realism of the new movie into the comic. Granted, this is probably due more to likeness rights than character interpretation. I’m sure the producers planned heavily on multiple revenue streams with comics being one part of that.
The art also shines in more than just the characters. Schoening knows how to create movement on the page. His panels are dynamic and exciting, which really goes a long way to telling a great story.
The pencils are enhanced by Luis Antiono Delgado’s vibrant colors. All of the detail and depth he puts into the characters and environments adds life to the book. Also, I love the different effects Delgado uses, such as the glow of the ghosts and the proton streams. They go a long way to making the comic feel cinematic and are beautiful touches.
As the sole writer of Ghostbusters at IDW, Erik Burnham has a strong grasp of the characters. Just like Schoening, he takes influence from the movies but also manages to make them his own. Venkman is still flippant with a dry-wit, Spengler the stoic intellectual. But Burnham takes license and veers the characters into unexpected directions, which is fantastic since it makes the stories less predictable.
But again, just like Schoening, he basically carbon copies the new team into the book. Burnham’s dialogue for Tolan, Holtzmann, Gilbert and Yates is so on point that I could practically hear the actresses’ voices saying the words. This is not a complaint. Since most readers may not be as familiar with the new Ghostbusters, this is a perfect introduction for them into the comic book world. In addition, it’s wonderful to see these great characters brought back to life since we probably won’t be getting a sequel due to less than stellar box office turnout for the film.
After that glowing praise for both the writing and the art, there is a glaring drawback of this issue that needs to be addressed. It is heavily steeped in backstory. Characters make many references to previous events which could easily lose readers who haven’t kept up with the IDW series. Without a doubt, this shows how tightly knit Burnham keeps his narrative, that he can make callbacks to the team’s earlier adventures. But the addition of the new team is bound to draw new readers. Younger readers whose first introduction to the Ghostbusters is the 2016 movie. If they have trouble following the story because of these callbacks, then they may be unlikely to keep up with the series. I’m not saying Burnham should have omitted the references completely, but an old-style Editorial Notes showing previous issues may have been helpful.
I feel that it’s an important step in the IDW series because it brings the new team of Ghostbusters into the comics-verse. Given the vitriol the reboot received, all from the fervor that was created by the casting of four women in the lead roles, having this team of Ghostbusters interact with the “classic” team goes a long way in showing the nay-sayers that a reboot doesn’t negate its predecessor; in this case, it enhances it. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.