Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Dan Schoening
Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado
I’ve read elsewhere that we’re in the golden age of crossovers. Thanks to cross-media licensing, we can have Sonic the Hedgehog meet Mega Man or Archie meet the Predator or the Predator pretty much meet anybody. Maybe the industry is running out of possible crossovers, since the industry now seems to have a recurring “character X meets themselves” theme, such as in the recent Spider-Verse crossover or DC’s Convergence. So why IDW didn’t have the Ghostbusters meet themselves before now is beyond me, but I guess we’re due.
IDW’s Ghostbusters Gets Real is pure 80s nostalgia porn…which isn’t a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing. The intent of this book is to marry up the film version of Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston with their animated counterparts. For those who didn’t grow up in that period, the quick rundown is this: the animated “Real” Ghostbusters was for all intents and purposes a continuation of the films, but really became its own thing. The events of the films more-or-less happened in the cartoon, but the show added its own wacky, ongoing adventures for the characters and pushed Slimer–a minor character in the first movie–into prominence as the team’s mascot. The art style of the show didn’t quite match the movies–possibly due to the cost of getting likeness rights from the live actors–so Egon got white hair, Ray became a redhead, and other subtle changes were made.
The upside of this comic is that Dan Schoening’s art perfectly captures the spirit of the old Ghostbusters animated series. I probably haven’t watched it since the early 90s, but reading this issue was like stepping back in time and I could almost hear the animated voices again. To his credit, Schoening gets clever in drawing the Ghostbusters’ live-action counterparts. They don’t look exactly like Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis or Ernie Hudson. At best, they look like Hirschfeld-style caricatures, exaggerating some of the familiar features of the actors without looking exactly like them. I will admit that I really can see Dan Ackroyd in the “live” version of Ray while still being enough of a departure that it would survive a lawsuit.
The downside is that I thought the plot was moderately thin in this particular issue. The animated Ghostbusters encounter a villainous angry God (with whom I’m admittedly unfamiliar) and through a magical mishap, poof, they’re in the film universe. I wouldn’t call this “phoned in,” but maybe I’ve become so used to inter-whatever crossovers in comics that there’s little surprise left in this dimensional mishap’s occurrence. The plot requires a crossover, so we get a crossover. Comedically enough, the film characters acknowledge their own recent crossover with the Ninja Turtles in an earlier IDW comic. In some respects, it feels like we’ve been here before.
However, what Erik Burnham loses in plot, he makes up for in styling. He really does manage to capture the spirit of the characters, both from the show and the film. I could equally “hear” Lorenzo Music and Bill Murrary’s respective versions of Peter while reading this story. Hopefully, future issues will pull together more elements of both Ghostbusters franchises and really embrace the nostalgia-porn nature of this story for what it is.
Overall, this is not a bad start to the crossover, and diehard Ghostbusters fans who are riding high on the franchise’s 30th anniversary will want to check it out. However, I do hope it’s able to excel beyond the standard tropes of a crossover, because we really are running out of new ideas.
Rating: Two and a half Walter Pecks out of Five
Reviewed by: Adam Frey