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What an idea! A brand new Ghostbusters team made up of recurring characters in the highly regarded series—oh, and did I mention three out of the four are women? That’s right. Janine, the trusty receptionist, Kylie, the brainy manager of Ray’s bookstore, Melanie, a hard as nails federal agent, and Ron, a techy lawbreaking wannabe ghostbuster, team up to bust some ghosts. This bold turn in the Ghostbusters universe, which started running serially in February of 2013 and will be released in a single volume containing the first four issues at the end of July, appears to not just be more of the same. There’s no question about it, The New Ghostbusters Vol. 5 is as funny as it is action packed, and it’s pretty damn funny. But after reading it, I can’t help but feel a little bit deceived. SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!
This isn’t the first Ghostbusters rod-eh-o for the creative team. Erik Burnham, writer, and Dan Schoening, artist, have been covering the paranormal exploits of Egon, Ray, Peter, and Winston since 2011 with a variety of titles and runs. And they don’t appear to be slowing down yet with the release of The New Ghostbusters. As someone who used to watch the cartoon growing up, I can’t help but notice that Schoening’s illustrations are a step in much more caricatured, cartoon-ish direction. It’s different, and it works. The art is complimented quite well by Luis Antonio Delgado’s bright color work. The result is very striking; the ghosts practically glow right on the page, just as they’re supposed to.
And although the team is new, those trusty elusive ghosts are the same as they’ve always been, and so too are their public relations reps. Plenty of good laughs are woven into the story in classic ghostbusters fashion, from that messy gooey ghost residue that always seems to make its way onto one or many members of the team, to ridiculous public appearances that favor image over practicality. In so many classic ways, The New Ghostbusters is a great success. Unfortunately, it falls short of serving up what the title promises: something new.
This “fresh” take on a classic series wasn’t quite as fresh as it leads us to believe. Yes, in the sense that a new group of four are, for a time, busting ghosts and making a mess of New York City in the process, it certainly lives up to its title. It’s all smoke and mirrors though. The “real” Ghostbusters, we are told, disappear. I mean they’d have to, right? It would be hard to accept their replacements if they didn’t. Spoiler: they didn’t. Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston get snatched up and caught between dimensions, and we are right there with them and their larger than life personalities all along the way.
The kicker to all this? The boys save themselves. That’s right. Despite the fact that the number one priority of the New Ghostbusters is to locate the not-to-be-found originals, the ‘reals’ manage to bust themselves out. We only get to watch Janine and the gang trap a few ghosts. In fact, a potentially engrossing story thread—Janine’s encounter with her ghostly Viking ancestor, who warns her of an impending attack from Grendel, which also happens to be a test of bravery passed down in her bloodline (cool right?) is met with a grossly anti-climactic end. Janine fails her test because she called Kylie for advice (it was intended for her only). Then, the Viking returns to confront her about it, furious. Suddenly, as if to show us how little this plot point matters, he explodes, covering Times Square in slimly ghost residue. When the smoke clears, the Real Ghostbusters are standing right where the Viking was. In returning from in-between dimensions all by themselves, they literally obliterated the most interesting thing to happen to the “new Ghostbusters” yet—goodbye cool story, goodbye new Ghostbusters, we hardly knew ye.