The proton packs of Ghostbusters #4

Posted by CB Droege

In the fall of 2011, IDW Comics kicked off a new line of Ghostbusters comics, starting from Issue #1 in September. Issue #4 hit store shelves in December.

I have to admit, I was not expecting much when I first heard about the project. I remember the Ghostbusters cartoon show from the 80s, The Real Ghostbusters.

The show was clearly written for children, with over-simplified plots, no series arcs or sub-plots, a ghost that served the team as a sort of pet, no political or non-otherworldly threats, and - worst of all - all of the characters personalities were made essentially identical - lovable wise-crackers - with the exception of Egon. 

Then there are the video games which have been in general, abysmal. The Ghostbusters license has been treated pretty poorly outside of the films themselves. A third film is now in development, but in the meantime, what we have is this comic line.

It’s fantastic, and not just compared to the other non-film Ghostbusters cruft.

This line really feels like a continuation of the story in the films (particularly the first one in the case of the first few issues). The plot focuses on the return of Gozer, and gives the reader some interesting back-story while drawing out the mythology of the world into something that compels more completely that just fighting with ghost after ghost.  

The series opened with Ray receiving a prophetic dream, being visited by a spirit who looks something like John Belushi in Blues Brothers, a welcome nod to Aykroyd’s roots. We learn that Gozer’s eminent return did not just spark off one event of increased supernatural activity, but the continuing supernatural activity around New York is actually being caused by Gozer’s continuing attempts to break into our world, and unmake it.

In ages past, there has always been a single man, one with exceptionally high connection to the spirit world, who becomes ‘the chooser’. When Gozer returns, The Chooser selects his form, and thus the fate of the world. It wasn’t a coincidence that brought Ray to that rooftop; he was drawn there by fate, and only his accidental choosing of a giant marshmallow mascot saved civilization.

In the New York of the comics, Gozer in marshmallow form has returned many times, each time defeated alongside the many other supernatural threats in the city, but now, the third minion of Gozer, "created by his initial defeat, neither gatekeeper nor keymaster" has arisen to assist Gozer in bringing about the end.

Of course, the Ghostbusters have to deal with the dubious public, and the ire of government officials, particularly Mr. Peck, who has been put in charge of managing the Ghostbusters on the behalf of the city.

There is also a sub-plot developing in which I believe we’ll eventually see a competing ghost disposal team in the city, trying to drive the Ghostbusters out of business.

Each of the characters is spot on the personalities from the original film. Ray is a naive dreamer, Venkman is a wise-cracking womanizer, Egon is a disassociated brain, and Zedemore, the rookie, is the moral grounding for the team and surprisingly resourceful despite his lack of education relative to the other three. The team dynamic is fluid and witty with the same level of frequent wry laughter as the film.

The artwork is a bit whimsical, and suits the tale well. Further, there are additional, more detailed, artistic studies of the characters and monsters in the back of the issues, in the form of reports from the desk of Mr. Peck with, in some cases, even detailed specs for one of the ghosts in that issue.

Overall, this is a great way for Ghostbusters fans to get a real fix for this great, and surprisingly deep ongoing story, and it makes the wait for Ghostbusters 3 a little easier.

Ghostbusters can be picked up wherever you buy comics, including the comiXology store.