TITLE: Ghostbusters, Vol. 7
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLERS: Dan Schoening, Burnham, Felipe Torrent, Erik Evensen
COLLECTS: Ghostbusters #9-12
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
RELEASE DATE: April 9, 2014
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
First and foremost, R.I.P. Harold Ramis. Never forget, Ghostheads, never forget.
Normally, it’s difficult for me to get into holiday-themed comic books or TV shows. For instance, there’s a wonderful episode of Justice League called “Comfort and Joy,” which takes place during the holiday season. I can never bring myself to watch it because something feels off about watching a holiday episode in, say, April. In this case, however, I’ll take whatever excuse I can get to see Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening do more Ghostbusters. And that’s exactly what they give us with Happy Horror Days!
This book sees the boys (and girls) in gray go to work on Halloween, El Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), the Sinterklaas celebration (more on that in a bit), and New Years Eve. Most of the cases involve children in one way or another. But how are they connected? And is it all leading to something terrible on the horizon…?
As a life-long Ghosthead, this series remains an absolute joy. Burnham’s writing is as close to the tone of the movies as we’ve ever seen from a Ghostbusters comic, Dan Schoening gives us delightful cartoony likenesses of the actors, set in a world that seems to be a hybrid of the movies, The Real Ghostbusters, and ’80s culture in general. There are so many little Easter eggs in these issues it’s almost impossible to spot them all in one sitting. But if you go to Ghostbusters.wikia.com, and look up the individual issues, they actually go panel-by-panel for you. For instance, in this book alone you’ll find a ghost based on Bill Murray’s Caddyshack character, a quick look at Laura Summer, the voice of Janine from the first two seasons of The Real Ghostbusters, and a litany of other RGB references. It’s an honest-to-God treasure hunt for children of the ’80s.
Vol. 7 sees Mel character come back to the team as a Ghostbuster/FBI liaison, and we see quite a bit of her in this book. I continue to have trouble getting into her character. To yours truly, she still comes off like a stand-in for Dana Scully. One would think the more time we spend with her, the less that would be the case. But she still seems very vanilla. I appreciated her being placed in a Day of the Dead story, as it texturizes her a bit differently than the other characters. But simply put, I just don’t find her very interesting. I’ve recently wondered if that’s because, unlike most of the other characters, we’ve never seen Mel in the movies or on a cartoon. But by that logic, Ron Alexander would be a boring character by comparison, and that’s certainly not the case. It’s unfortunate, as there’s certainly nothing wrong with injecting a bit more femininity into the Ghostbusters.
The creative highlight of the book is issue #11, in which Peter, Egon, and Mel investigate a haunting by Sinterklaas, the mythical figure whose legend helped inspire the creation of Santa Claus. Like Santa, Sinterklaas leaves gifts for good children. But he also punishes the bad ones, fairly severely in some cases. Hearing Egon get picky about how it’s “not Santa Claus, it’s Sinterklaas,” is amusing. But what really makes it special is what Venkman does when he comes face to face with the spectral Sinterklaas, who has a small child in his grasp. He maintains his trademark Venkman snark and wit. But the scene also illustrates that deep down, under all the scheming and womanizing, he has a kind heart. It’s a fantastic character moment.
This book also plants some seeds for Mass Hysteria, the big story IDW is doing to commemorate the 3oth anniversary of Ghostbusters. These occur in the main story, as well as the various back-ups Burnham does with various artists. Particularly notable is the debut of Eduardo, who fans may recognize from the Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon. Like Kylie, he helps out at Ray’s book store. But this book sees him sucked back into ancient Mesopotamia, to deliver a message to the Ghostbusters from an entity called Tiamat. Google that word. It’ll give you some interesting insight into what Burnham, Schoening, and the gang are planning.
In issue #12, we see the Chicago Ghostbusters run into a familiar face: Alyssa Milano’s character from Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Dr. Alyssa Selwyn. Dr. Selwyn has brought the “World of Gozer” exhibit to the Windy City, and as one might expect, things go bad. Erik Evensen’s art isn’t done any favors when it’s put next to Schoening’s work. But all in all, it’s nice that they connected the Chicago team to Mass Hysteria that way, and incorporated a familiar character in the process.
Ghostbusters, Vol. 7 is less fulfilling than its predecessors (as I said, I’m not a fan of holiday episodes). But by the standards Burnham and Schoening have set, that’s still more satisfying than a great many other books you’ll find on the stands. But it does give the reader a sense that something big, and not-to-be-missed is coming. And again, based on Burnham and Schoening’s reputation, I’m inclined to believe it.
Front page image and image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from uwstout.edu.
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