The Tie-Ins That Bind: Ghostbusters 101 by Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening


I could die without discussing Ghostbusters 2016 ever again. A thoroughly decent movie with great characters but an almost infuriating obsession with preemptively attacking its attackers, I truly do not care if I ever hear about it again. I’m glad it has its fans but nope, don’t care. It doesn’t deserve the energy spent on it. And furthermore the original is only so-so. You’re thinking of the cartoon or the end when you praise it.

So why am I here, about to do the very thing I despise? Look I’m not in a good place mentally after weeks of nothing but prequels so why not? And in all seriousness there is a good reason to do this. It had to be expected license holder IDW would try to carry the movie on. This comic was definitely in the works long before the film fizzled. Crossing over with the classic versions was also inevitable. But was really inevitable? This is an IDW comic so it had to wind up being brilliant.

IDW hasn’t come up yet on this column because I haven’t done a comic yet but they’re incredible. You can easily make a case their season 10 of The X-Files is far better than the 10/11 we got. (And with the audio dramas of season 10 with the cast it’s real easy.) They take licenses and put teams on them that care enough to do it right. They’ve given us truly great Star Trek comics  that have given us dream scenarios like Kirk and Spock vs the Borg. They gave us a Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters comic. And there’s this.

Ghostbusters 101 is a standard issue crossover straight from the usual template. There’s a dimensional rift. The two teams meet. Things happen. Not only does that describe these two teams meeting, it describes the Ghostbusters/Real Ghostbusters crossover, the Ghostbusters/Ninja Turtles crossover, and the Batman/Ninja Turtles crossover along with non-IDW crossover JLA/Avengers. Nothing new but it works.

The fun of these stories is the interaction between the characters and that is here in full force. It is a blast to see Holtzmann and Spengler nerd out. There’s also a complete breakdown of every injoke in the 2016 movie. But more than anything else there’s a healthy dose of mayhem! Penciller Dan Schoening knows how to draw great weird demons.

If I could just review this in a vacuum as a fun story, I’d likely highly recommend it but I wouldn’t cover it here. I’ve read all the minis I listed above and never considered them for this because they’re just good and that doesn’t need an explanation. This though? Yeah it needs discussing because of the context around it and more importantly how the book handles it.

As I noted, I think Paul Feig blew it critiquing the critics. You can do it, mind you. The current Star Wars films have an avatar of everything wrong with Star Wars fans in Kylo Ren, arguably the best villain in the franchise. Feig gave us such moves as killing Bill Murray (the novelization broke its back to keep him alive) and giving us a straw misogynist so poorly written I, an equal rights obsessive, thought he was shrill. Good idea, blown execution.

This though? This deals with the question of do these women have a place and nails it. It’s revealed that when the 1984 Ghostbusters fought Gozer, the idea of them entered the multiverse and impacted it. Thus the existence of the cameos in the ’16 movie and the very idea of Ghostbusters itself. The 2016 versions are left to wonder if they are nothing more than cheap copies.

That’s a hell of a question. And it’s answered by the comic rather brilliantly. These are great characters and they show it here. They’re distinct, boldly etched heroines. I was glad to follow them. I was so sold on this I’m probably grabbing their solo miniseries IDW put out.

Making this comic a metastatement on the controversy really was the only way to make it work. It really helps that it comes after the film’s release. There was time to evaluate the effect it had. Not much, maybe a month or so, but some time. It might even be stronger now. Whatever the case, I’m glad it was done.

I never wanted to cover this material but in the end I’m glad I did. This is an awesome miniseries. Will it convert you? No. But it’s a fun read and forget social statements, that’s what I wanted.

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