First things first: A little disclaimer. I am a huge Ghostbusters fan. I got the two classic movies on DVD. I got the Real Ghostbusters box set shaped like the firehouse. I got two t-shirts. And I have IDW’s complete run of Ghostbusters stories. It has been…… GLORIOUS! (used with permission of Bobby Roode). Tom Waltz leads his writers as an Editor who is a fan that wants to make the fans happy with these continued stories.
But, Sony went and made a reboot movie in the meantime. And it bombed. I won’t get into a detailed review of the movie in this column. I am going to say is that the biggest problem with the movie is that the characters weren’t well done: Two-Dimensional and Hollywood Trope. The Ladies are just there. The reboot movie would gain the official title of Ghostbusters: Answer The Call in it’s home release.
IDW Publishing did their part and dipped into the reboot’s world first with a teams-crossover mini called Ghostbusters 101. And it was good. Not the best arc IDW has done with GB license but a good story where the Ladies were used well. Hints that good things can be done with these half-cooked concepts.
This leads us to Answer The Call Number 1 and 2 which I will refer to as ATC from now on. The book is written by Kelly Thompson who has done good work for Marvel and IDW previously including the previous Ghostbusters Deviations One-Shot. She is a good writer, maybe even great. I trust Kelly to do as good a job as any with the material.
The thing with licensed comics is that you can’t verge too far from the source material. For good or ill, any expansions and transitions and tweaks have to be done slowly so as not to come off as a bad fan-fiction. It needs to be solid work by someone who respects what came before from other writers. This is the problem that plagues these two issues, by the way. The characters aren’t that interesting yet.
Kevin is a waste of ink. He is literally a worthless character. Watch the movie, he’s so stupid he can’t do anything properly except get dressed and drive his motorcycle. That is his purpose in the movie. He generated laughs with the “humor” that stupid people are funny. One issue. The all-time great stupid characters of better movies have redeeming qualities. Look at Chris Farley in any of his movie roles. Kevin is just eye candy. That’s the reason he’s around. He’s Man-Pretty.
Fuck You Paul Feig and Katie Dipplod.
Holtz is still a mad-scientist rebel against the status quo. She is the closest to enjoyable but her manic personality isn’t balanced with any kindness. She seems almost eager to kill herself and everyone around her. Maybe one day, Holtz will realize this herself and have a character growth moment. Meanwhile we are stuck with quirky hyper Rebel Grrrl.
Erin and Abby are the scientist BFFs who do the ying-yang thing. Erin is all serious and nerdy bookworm, and Abby is the fangirl scientist who loves being a Ghostbuster yet isn’t actually very good at it. But she’s amusing.
Patty is sassy because she’s black. No. I’m not racist. That’s all the movie and this comic gives her. Sassy. Sassy. Sassy. Sassy. But doesn’t actually HELP in any way. She has this annoying quirk of I’m gonna have to say I told you so running joke that doesn’t pay off. She doesn’t have any ideas herself, and their failure is supposed to be dramatic. Patty is just critical without being constructive. She doesn’t plan, period. Her lines are just shitting on other people’s suggestions.
The ATC Ladies face off against a ghost who was such a fear-obsessed jerk-off in his mortal life. In the afterlife, he’s basically a fear demon. Also, we get references to cases that occured between movie and comic that sound more interesting. I want to see the Sewer Clown case, dammit.
Issue 2 ends with the ladies all stuck in their private fear-hells. Holtz is all cubicle suit wearing drone. Erin is confronted with the fact that Ghosts is fringe science that her peers don’t take seriously thus she is a laughing stock. Abby is a clown.
Let’s go ahead and point out the trope:
Clowns are scary. Yes, we all know that and every other fear story does this. Fucking Pennywise. Remember him?
Patty is afraid of… scary shit. Seriously you are a Ghostbuster and creepy things are your great fear? This is what I’m talking about! Patty has NO real character for Kelly to pull from, and it’s all just generic. Holtz was predictable as sin sure. I mean, at least, they tried to have fun with the concept. Patty is just a character we are forced to work with.
We have three more issues and I hold out hope that Kelly and Tom can work together to make a story that elevates the ATC continuity to something that deserves a fanbase.
I want to like these Ladies. I want these stories to be worth collecting and re-reading. But, IDW’s wonderful GB crew has to grow flowers from the manure pile the movie is. And so far, we just have seeds and some rain. Not enough for a wish sandwich.