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ROBOT OVERLORD: It’s been 25 years since the first Ghostbusters movie debuted, (I’ve got diodes older than that!) and in that time it seems that the interest in the property continues to grow.  IDW Publishing released their latest Ghostbusters title this past week, and since Matthew and Stephen have been witness to the franchise growth since the beginning, I demanded they appease their Robot Overlord by reviewing the issue.


ghostbustersCOVER.jpgGhostbusters: Tainted Love
Writer: Dara Naraghi
Artist: Salgood Sam
Colors: Bernie Mireault
Letters: Salgood sam
Editor: Tom Waltz
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Previously in Ghostbusters:  Eddie Spencer and his gorilla Tracy start each day the same way, by picking up their mission at the local convenience store (a message which will self-destruct in five seconds.)  With the help of Jake Kong… Waitamminit!  That’s not Forrest Tucker!  And where’s Billy Barty?  This…  Oh, this is the OTHER Ghostbusters?  Neeeevermind.  Their story goes like this:  After getting drummed out of the halls of academia, Doctors Pete Venkman, Egon Spengler and Ray Stantz go into business themselves as paranormal exterminators.  Business booms, thanks to the extradimensional demon called Zuul  (as well as Vigo the Carpathian, and a few other names) and the boys use their skills as scientists and Pete’s snake-oil salesmanship to turn Ghostbusters into a household name.  Quoth the main man himself, “Sometimes $#!+ happens, nobody wants to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?”

STEPHEN: Sing it with me Matthew… Whoa, whoa whoa… Tainted Love… No?

MATTHEW: No.  In fact, I think I finally understand the lyrics about why people ran from you…

STEPHEN: Killjoy.  Anyway… this issue is quite a bit different than the last series we reviewed on Major Spoilers as the crew isn’t lost in time and space, and things seems pretty normal.  Well, as normal as they get when you’ve got specters, (not THAT Spectre) haunting the likes of New York. It’s near Valentine’s Day and the GB crew are putting the kibosh on a pair of unruly ghosts who are trying to crash the dance at one of the local high schools.  As expected, the ghosts are brought down, and the gym is a mess, but this time we get something a little different; Winston meets a substitute teacher who really digs on him.  It’s just too bad she’s got an over protective ghost haunting her apartment.

What I really liked about this issue is it is a very Winston-centric story.  Sure, we get Venkman being Venkman, and the odd Egon/Ray love affair with gadgets, but I really like that we get to see Winston take charge.

MATTHEW: It’s actually nice to see Mr. Zeddemore take center stage here, but I think that’s a pretty plot driven decision.  After all, given Pete’s well-documented lechery, Ray’s general social ineptitude and Egon’s almost certain 45-year-old virginity, he was the only one of the characters likely to casually fall into the quasi romantical relationship, and that role is central to the plot.  Still, this issue does bring up a problem with TV/movie animations, in that you can do convincing Egon or Winston dialogue with little trouble, but so much of what was funny about Ray and Pete was entirely about facial expressions or tone of voice.  The story isn’t hampered too much by it, and there are moments during the opening sequences and the climax where Peter has lines that are seemingly straight out of Bill Murray’s mouth (“Your neighborhood is charming…  Authentically New York, but pleasant.”)

STEPHEN: I thought the story was a nice one for Valentine’s Day, even if the issue came out the week after the holiday.  The story was fast paced, and I like that the battle wasn’t solved with guns, but with a stern word from our central character.

MATTHEW: It’s just a shame that various elements conspired to deliver this book AFTER the Valentine’s Day holiday (I understand that there were both delays at customs and a delivery truck accident due to the snow and ice.)  Either way, it’s a charming tale, and I think IDW should hook us up with Ghostbusters for all the major holidays.  “Pete Venkman’s St. Swithin’s Day Excellent Adventure,” anyone?

STEPHEN: One of the big elements found in this story was the introduction of the new Proton Packs, that are now pistol sized instead of unwieldy shotguns.  Of course they aren’t as powerful as the main packs…

MATTHEW: But then, they don’t have to be, do they?  They’re the proton-pack equivalent of Huntress’ wrist crossbow, and they’re nifty as hell, to boot.

STEPHEN: I’ve seen a few rumors here and there, but I think this may be something we’re going to see in the next movie.

MATTHEW: That might be cool.  I do like the fact that there’s no obvious attempts to “modernize” the guys in this story, putting it in that vague sorta “It happened at this point in their lives” temporal period.  We didn’t have to deal with Sally Floyd yelling at Peter about You Tube or anything of that nature, allowing this to naturally progress into any theoretical Ghostbusters 3 story down the line…  Naturally, technology would move forward, and miniaturization would come with that.  What did you think about the visuals?

STEPHEN: I wasn’t a big fan of the art or the lettering in this issue.  Perhaps it was the heavy inking around the edges of the characters, or perhaps Salgood Sam was trying to cram too much detail into each panel, but I thought it came off as kind of diry and out of control, and distinguishing between the characters (Ray and Venkman) was problematic at times.  Of course, one only has to look at the hairline for clarification, but still…  On the lettering front, I can understand the floating letter style when dealing with the ghosts, but it seemed there wasn’t a straight line to be found in the world balloons.

MATTHEW: The art worked for me, overall, even as I wondered about likeness rights (There isn’t a single panel that resembles Ernie Hudson to me) and how difficult it is to capture Bill Murray on paper.  The problem with the lettering is that it’s hand-done, which can be difficult to pull off (just look at early Bloom County or Doonesbury if you don’t believe me) and it didn’t work for me here.  There were some elements of the coloring, as well, that threw me…  Still, the art felt like animation, and was a much more successful style thereof than the actual cartoon adventures of the ‘Busters.

STEPHEN: Overall, I thought this was an okay issue.  I think it was a good thing that this was a one-shot, because if this issue had carried out any longer, I don’t think I would have finished it.  Dara Naraghi told a solid story, and I really liked that we saw Winston take center stage, but I think it was the art and lettering that killed it for me.  I’m only giving this issue 2 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MATTHEW: Having not read a lot of the previous comic adaptation of the team (and being a bit upset at the dearth of gorillas and Larry Storch) I can still say that this issue was a pretty enjoyable one for me.  I like the Winston focus, I liked the through-line of story, and as distracting as certain color effects and the dialogue/word balloon issue was, I found this to be an above average effort.  There are two big questions in licensed comics:  Did they look right?  Did they sound right?  The answers to those questions, in reverse order, are “Yep.” and “Close enough for government work.”  Maybe I’m more inured to production issues after years of reading old-school indy books (which, BTW, is why I’m a little starstruck to note that the colors are by Jam creator Bernie Mireault) but I can live with the shortcomings, and give this issue a successful 3 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

Disclaimer: This review was half-way based on a complimentary copy provided by IDW Publishing, and half based on an actual copy purchased at the store. We’ll let you try to figure out which half.

The Author

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4 Comments

  1. February 22, 2010 at 12:32 am — Reply

    I vote the left half…

  2. February 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm — Reply

    Hey guys, thanks for the review, i get lots of ‘love it or hate it’ about my lines, can’t please everyone. I draw to make myself happy so that’s ok.

    Dara and I were really into this project in big part because we got to give Winston some time in the sun, glad to hear people are enjoying that!

    Mostly i thought i’d leave a comment to let you and you’re readers know that we didn’t have rights to use the actors at all. I didn’t want to totally change them, so i was trying to balance drawing them as close as i could to the players without actually drawing them. Had to tweak Not Bill once even for getting too close to the mark. That was tough, and most of my energy was on keeping the work from getting stiff and making sure the acting played off well – as you mentioned comedy is often about delivery!

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