A few months ago, I picked up the first volume of IDW's Ghostbusters ongoing, and pretty quickly realized that it was going to be one of those comics that I had to stop myself from just buying all at once, because otherwise I was going to blow through it all at and then be sad that there wasn't any more to read. That's how it became one of the comics that I get myself as a reward, a little treat to get me through the day. I hit my deadlines, and I get to buy some Ghostbusters comics.

You, on the other hand, should just go ahead and buy them all at once, because there's never been a better time to jump in. Almost every part of Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening's run is on sale at Comixology with the collections at 50% off, and if you love Ghostbusters as a movie, I can pretty much guarantee that you're going to love it as a comic, too.

 

 

I say that almost all of it's on sale because there's a two-issue Infestation mini-series --- remember Infestation? The kinda-sorta crossover between all of IDW's licensed titles from a few years back where I don't think anybody actually crossed over and instead everybody just fought zombies? --- that Burnham wrote with Kyle Hotz doing the art, which serves as something of a prelude to what he did with Schoening. It's easy enough to find, though, and while it's worth checking out if you enjoy what you read in the ongoing, it's not strictly necessary to enjoy what's here.

That said, I mentioned it because if you've only got a casual knowledge of Ghostbusters, meaning that, like me, you've only seen the movies, know the first one a whole lot better than the second, and never played the video game, it's easy to think that you've missed something. And in a way, you have, because Burnham and Schoening take those three pieces of Ghostbusters canon and use them not even as the starting point, but as the background for their story.

By the time their series starts, the Ghostbusters have already saved the city from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man multiple times --- because really, nobody wanted to play a Ghostbusters video game where you did't get to have the movie's most memorable fight --- and they're working for the Paranormal Contracts Oversight Commission (or PCOC, get it?), the governmental organization headed up by Walter Peck. They're even franchised, with a rookie Ghostbuster operating out of Chicago. That's all stuff that originates from the game, not the movies, and it's never explained in detail in the comic. They just pick up and go.

And really, that's what makes it so fun.

 

Ghostbusters, IDW

 

Because they have that background in place, and because they don't seem to be particularly interested in filling us in when they can be moving forward, Burnham and Schoening are able to treat Ghostbusters in the way that the movies never could: As an ongoing story where a lot of the disparate elements of the films can be expanded on in really interesting ways.

Take the characters, for instance. As much as I love Peter Venkman's sarcastic quips and Ray's wide-eyed wonder at the supernatural, the breakout star of the main cast has to be Winston Zeddemore. He's arguably the least developed character in the movies --- he doesn't even show up until halfway through the first one, after all --- but here, he's given a history, a love interest, and, most interestingly, a motivation outside of being a Ghostbuster, something that none of the other characters really have, and all of it is still built on the core of his character that's revealed in the movie. He's still the guy who said he'd believe in anything for a steady paycheck, and that pragmatism is still there as his motivation.

And that's just what they've done with the existing characters. The book is full of new ones, too --- enough to form an entirely new team, in fact, which is exactly what they end up doing.

 

 

If you only wanted to check out a single story from the run, it'd be very tempting to suggest starting with volume 5, The New Ghostbusters to get an idea of how fun this series can really be. The whole book is full of exactly the kinds of plots that you'd want to see from a serialized, ongoing Ghostbusters story, whether in comics or TV --- they go on a road trip to fight ghosts in other places! A rival Ghostbusting company steals their technology and screws up bigtime! --- but this one is maybe the best possible example of that.

See, it's not just that there's a new team, it's that there's also a team of Peoplebusters.

 

 

I don't really know what else to call 'em: They're a bunch of ghosts who take the form of demonic versions of the Ghostbusters and attack the originals, zapping them with beams and trapping them in their own version of the GBs' containment field. And really, that has to be the first idea that you come up with when you're asked what you want to do with a Ghostbusters story, but it ends up being as fantastic as you want it to be. I am on record as a dude who loves stories about evil opposites, so unsurprisingly, I was 100% into this, and my only complaint is that they weren't in the spotlight for the entire story, trading eeeeeevil versions of the regular guys' quips.

Instead, we get something that might be even better: The supporting cast, characters who have been slowly developing in the background over the course of the series, form a new team of Ghostbusters, led by Janine:

 

 

And for the record, the short-shorts are actually part of a pretty great commentary on "sexy" uniforms:

 

 

The whole story is great, and it probably works as one of the more accessible high points of the run, but it works as such a natural extension of what's going on to the book at that point that it's hard to recommend it without tacking on a "but you should really just start at the beginning."

And you should --- the book's full of great character work, and Schoening's art has that perfect combination of cartoony visual humor and genuinely scary ghosts to make it work perfectly with the subject matter. It's an amazing contrast in styles that still feels unified --- and considering how he's juggling two different styles of "cartoony" in the current Ghostbusters: Get Real miniseries, where the comics team crosses over with their Real Ghostbusters counterparts, it's even more impressive that he does it well enough to seem effortless.

 

 

Even beyond that one story, there's a lot here that's going to appeal to Ghostbusters fans, bringing back a few unexpected characters and filling in backstories for the ones we already like in ways that make us like 'em even more. The whole series is an absolute blast, and so's the Ghostbusters/TMNT crossover that's not part of the sale. It's a whole lot thrilling, a little bit scary and frequently pretty hilarious; exactly what Ghostbusters should be.