By Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, and Luis Antonio Delgado
One of the fundamentally amazing things aboutGhostbusters is how almost every form of ancillary media to the original has been a home run, save for the actual sequel. Both The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters are solid animation classics, the theme song is one of the catchiest and best composed pieces of theme music ever made, and the Ghostbusters comics of IDW have been absolutely phenomenal. Following their own continuity of events after the first film, IDW’s Ghostbusters series adopts a stylized look for the characters that, while not a direct transliteration of the actors, embodies the personalities and identities of the characters perfectly. However, unlike the animated shows which put the emphasis on exploring the kind of threats the Ghostbusters might encounter through their adventures, IDW’s Ghostbusters has put the emphasis on developing a lasting world of Ghostbusters continuity and mechanics. This latest issue continues that mission statement in a bold new direction with a look at how the Ghostbusters mission might go worldwide.
Like all of IDW’s Ghostbusters books, Ghostbusters International has a vibe that ends up much more in tune with the first film’s sensibilities, in particular a business emphasis. It’s easy to forget this now, but at the time it was produced, Ghostbusters was intended as an adult comedy that sought to subvert the comedic tropes of starting a business by throwing in the paranormal. Most of that gets lost under the more popular aspect of dudes shooting monsters with lasers, but that was always the seed from which the Ghostbusters tree grew and IDW is taking us right back to that origin point. There are still monsters to be fought and lasers being shot, but they’re less in the center stage than one might naturally assume. The bigger emphasis of the story is on a mysterious new player in the Ghostbusters Universe named Mr. Vinter.
Vinter’s a billionaire looking to buy the Ghostbusters and take their operations global, an act which would help bring the Ghostbusters a much needed support staff and take them out from under New York’s municipal thumb. In a lot of ways, Vinter plays like the set-up to a bigger joke being made about the series overall. It’s become a sort of common acceptance that the Ghostbusters are an inherently capitalist superhero team, extolling the virtues of private enterprise over academia and government oversight. Given that, making the villain of this piece, and make no mistake Vinter is almost certainly the villain as that’s telegraphed in his first scene, a multi-billionaire industrialist seems like a cheeky twist on expectations. There are still elements of the previous metaphor like Janine being crushed under mountains of red tape paperwork or a fairly humorous opening sequence with the UN refusing to pay their ghostbusting bill. Vinter could still fit into the classic Ghostbusters villain mold given he’s meant to be a Scandinavian industrialist, though that really doesn’t come across in his dialogue. Regardless, his central persona as a multi-billionaire who comes off just a little too plain and gangly while also being a massive Ghostbusters fan, makes him a pretty engaging antagonist.
The artwork is very good, a perfect blend of stylized comic work with a hint of cartoonish designs. All the characters physical forms are very well rendered representations of the human form; they look and move like real people. Where the art gets more cartoony is in the facial expressions, especially on Winston and Venkmen. Everybody’s face exists as something closer to a street artist caricature and while normally that might be a detriment, here it really compliments the overall style. The Ghostbusters already exist as something in the vein of cartoon characters, so doubling down on that effect while also allowing the artist more freedom in breaking with the actor’s facial design is a great shortcut for keeping the style classic and timeless. The color work is solid, a nice washed-out palette for the backgrounds so the brighter character colors stand out better. The ghost effects remain the highlight, especially a ghost delegation sequence in the opening. Lighting effects always lean heavily on the colorist and these are wonderfully natural and persuasive.
This is a good first issue that sucks you in and instantly makes you want to see more of the story. The basic idea of a global Ghostbusters is a great concept and nobody handles corporate comedy filtered through the genre lens like the Ghostbusters. It’s still a little up in the air how various international Ghostbusters teams will remain interesting and compelling given that they’d, by definition, have to be all new characters, but the promise of ghosts and monsters grounded in foreign iconography and cultural idiosyncrasy is more than enough to engage. Bottom line: rock solid opening to an interesting overall idea that’s drawn from the great central origin of this series, promising an end comic that’s very much up there with the bests of this subgenre like Justice League International or Batman Inc.