Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Deep Dive Reviews

A TMNT/Ghostbusters Deep-Dive Review – Bustin’ in a Half Shell

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #14
AUTHORS: Erik Burnham, Tom Waltz
ARTIST: Dan Schoening
GUEST ARTISTS: Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison (Colorist)
COLORIST: Luis Delgado
LETTERER: Neil Uyetake
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
COLLECTED IN: Paperback, Deluxe EditionTMNT: The IDW Collection, Vol. 5
RELEASED: October 2014 – January 2015

***New around here? Check out Primary Ignition’s TMNT Deep-Dive Review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

If you were a kid in the ’80s or ’90s, chances are you’ll find something appealing at IDW Publishing. That’s not me kissing ass. It’s simply the law of averages. Their collection of licenses includes Transformers, My Little Pony, Sonic the Hedgehog, Back to the Future, among others. That’s to say nothing of two iconic staples of the ’80s: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters.

And of course, IDW loves them a good crossover. It was only a matter of time before the boys in green met the boys in grey.

So what do people want to see from a story like this? What’s the appeal of a crossover? The answer is fans like it when things…well, cross over. We like to see different characters from different worlds meet, interact, team up, or even fight. Often it’s a combination of all four.

But how do you mash up the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Ghostbusters? On the surface, they have very little in common.

The answer is: Find common ground. Take something the two properties have in common and use it to bring them together. Thus the question becomes, what do the TMNT and the GBs have in common? Well, simply at face value…

  • They’re both four-man teams.
  • They both fight the supernatural and/or the extraordinary.
  • They’re both from New York City.

That, especially that third point, is apparently a good enough starting point. TMNT/Ghostbusters sees an accident with the Turtles’ dimensional portal send them to the Ghostbusters’ incarnation of New York. The accident also frees Chi-You, a Chinese warrior god hell bent on ruling the Earth. Caught up in his plot is none other than a demonically possessed Casey Jones.

These issues feel very much like the Turtles are guest-starring in a Ghostbusters story. That’s because artistic team behind IDW’s Ghostbusters books, penciller Dan Schoening, colorist Luis Delgado, and letterer Neil Uyetake handle most of the pages. The common threads between IDW’s Ghostbusters and TMNT books? Tom Waltz, who co-authored TMNT with Kevin Eastman, was the editor on Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters author Erik Burnham had worked on plenty of supplemental material for the TMNT series as well. So the ground was fertile for a crossover.

Said crossover is in good hands. Over the last decade, Burnham, Schoening, Delgado, and Uyetake have been responsible for what in my opinion are the best Ghostbusters comics ever made. All parties involved clearly had a reverence for the source material, and Burnham was turning in amazing scripts.

But what really sets the material apart is Schoening and Delgado. As is the case with TMNT comics, my argument when it comes to Ghostbusters comics is that a lot rides on how you draw the heroes themselves. Because of likeness issues, most pre-Shoening artists tended to draw the movie-based Ghostbusters as guys who looked loosely like the actors. As in this case the characters are so closely identified with their performers (Can you picture someone other than Bill Murray playing Peter Venkman?), what we got were essentially Ghostbusters stories with characters who looked like they were standing in for the genuine article. 

Then along came Shoening who took a more animated, cartoony approach to the movie Ghostbusters. His Egon Spengler doesn’t look like Harold Ramis. But like an impressionist channeling a specific person, he captures the feel of the characters in a way no other artist ever has. So to see him take on the Ghostbusters and the Ninja Turtles, in the same story no less, is very special.

Issues #2 and #3 are where we get a lot of those “common ground” scenes. The two teams share pizza in the firehouse. Donatello compares tech geek notes with Ray. Raph and Venkman make wisecracks to each other. And of course, we get our first obligatory shot of a Ninja Turtle wearing a proton pack. Along those lines, Cory Smith’s variant cover for issue #3 (shown left) is my favorite in the entire series. If you’re an ’80s or ’90s kid, the smart bet is this would have made your head explode back then.

By villain standards, Chi-You isn’t very memorable at all. He’s essentially a generic, grand-standing, monolouging bad guy. He does, however, manage to look pretty bad ass in Casey Jones’ hockey mask. But the strange thing about this story is that the bad guy is almost an afterthought. The main event is that interaction between the two teams. With only four issues to work with, you almost don’t have the time to properly build up a brand new villain while still delivering on what fans want to see from a crossover.

And did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters deliver on what fans wanted to see? I’d say so. I’d like to think no one realistically came into this thing expecting a grand masterpiece. But it wasn’t a small task either. It’s job was to deliver on a scenario dreamed up by many an ’80s or ’90s kid: What if the Ninja Turtles met the Ghostbusters? And the answer we get is perfectly serviceable. It isn’t contrived, or forced, or hokey, or stupid, all of which it easily could have been. The IDW crew delivered on the crossover, just like they delivered on the two books individually.

What more could a kid who grew up watching these characters on worn out VHS tapes possibly ask for?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Uncategorized

Toy Chest Theater: Ghostbusters and the Punisher…the Ghost-Punishers?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

“Busy night, Frank? Ever think about leaving a few breathing?”

That’s the caption that Scott Bline put on this image of the Punisher and the Ghostbusters. The picture stands on its own just fine. It’s got great lighting, and reminds me of the cutscene in Ghostbusters: The Video game where the boys see Stay Puft again. But this is the rare instance where a caption is the one detail that puts an image over the top. It’s been stuck in my head for weeks.

It’s funny, I can actually visualize a story where Frank Castle and the boys in gray team up. You talk about wiping somebody off the Earth completely. Kill ’em, then capture their ghost. Gone without a trace.

Your move Marvel. You too, IDW Publishing.

For more from Scott Bline, check out his web site.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Eddie Murphy at Ghostbusters HQ

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Eddie Murphy/Ghostbusters connection goes back a long way. The irony there is that most people have no idea there’s a connection at all.

Legend has it that while writing early treatments for Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd had his eye on Murphy for a co-starring role. This would have been during Murphy’s days on Saturday Night Live. But as the film evolved, and Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, and Bill Murray became involved, the idea of Murphy playing a role fell to the wayside.

Some believe Murphy had been pegged for the Winston Zeddemore role, i.e. the everyman who gets to asks the Ghostbusters expository questions. A quote from Harold Ramis is cited in Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, which ultimately debunks this idea…

“Everyone thought that Winston was written for Eddie Murphy, but Eddie was really only going to costar with Danny is in his original version of the story. I never spoke to Eddie about being in the film.”

Decades later, Dan Schoening would pay a subtle tribute to Murphy in Ghostbusters #2.

Alright, maybe subtle isn’t the right word.

As Ecto-1 does one of its trademark zooms out of the firehouse, it nearly clips Axel Foley, Murphy’s character in Beverly Hills Cop. Foley is conspicuous by his trademark black jacket and muscle car.

Fittingly, both Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop were released in 1984. Both made big bucks, and spawned franchises. *sigh* Sure makes you miss the ’80s, doesn’t it?

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Martin Short and…Grandma Winslow???

***Dan Schoening’s art is filled with delightful Easter Eggs and winks. Here at “Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt,” we shine a fresh light on things you might have missed the first time around.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This hidden gem comes to us from 2014’s Ghostbusters #14, and the wedding of Winston Zeddemore. The boys in gray are about to face the heart-wrenching wrath of Tiamat. But in the meantime, Winston has some really interesting wedding guests.

I’ve always remembered this panel because Schoening slipped in, of all people, Rosetta Lenoire. Modern audiences know her best as Grandma Winslow from Family Matters. And low and behold, there she is in her Family Matters get-up. It somehow makes sense, doesn’t it? On the show, her son was Chicago Police Officer Carl Winslow. Carl was, of course, played by Reginald VelJohnson. VelJohnson also had a small speaking role as a prison guard in Ghostbusters. If you know enough to connect the dots, that’s an epic ’80s reference.

Then it was pointed out to me that standing next to her is Frank Eggelhoffer, Martin Short’s character from Father of the Bride. Yeah, I had no idea on that one. Makes me think I need to go back and watch that movie again.

And because we needed another ’90s reference, Schoening threw Roland from Extreme Ghostbusters in as well. Happy to see the team at IDW giving that show some love. Highly underrated, in my view.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Ghostbusters International #2 Review – Bustin’ on Location

Ghostbusters International #2, cover, Dan SchoeningTITLE: Ghostbusters International #2
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLER: Dan Schoening
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 24, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Erik Burnham, Dan Shoening, Luis Delgado, and the folks at IDW have been doing this Ghostbusters thing for awhile now. And as I’ve said before, they’re the best comic book team to ever take on the boys in gray. That’s why I was surprised when Ghostbusters International #1 largely felt like…business as usual. Mind you, business as usual for this book is still pretty good. Perhaps they were simply setting the table before the twist at the end. Either way, there was seemingly no new element of intrigue.

Thankfully, Ghostbusters International #2 both ups the intrigue, and sends our heroes across the globe!

Ghostbusters International #2, Dan SchoeningErland Vinter, a wealthy Scandanavian businessman, wants to buy the Ghostbusters. But while the boys aren’t for sale, Walter Peck arranges for Vinter to have access to them in the short-term. Ergo, Peter, Ray, and Winston find themselves in Italy for a case involving the haunted island of Poveglia.

As usual, the star of this series is Dan Schoening. Granted, one can’t undercut the importance of Erik Burnham’s witty writing to the longevity of the Ghostbusters books. But Schoening’s art is always what has made them pop. Yes, it’s cartoony. But Shoening’s Ghostbusters have always resembled the real actors enough that you buy them as the characters. What’s more, Shoening has never gone too over the top with his renderings. So his work on these books has always had a certain animation-meets-pseudo-realism effect to it. It’s a hell of a lot of fun to look at, especially with all the ’80s Easter eggs he tends to toss in there for the sheer fun of it. You can tell he’s having fun, so you inevitably have fun with him.

Ghostbusters International #2, Dan Shoening, RaySending the Ghostbusters around the world is a fine concept. But I can’t help but wonder how long they’ll stick with it. A few years ago they relaunched this series as The New Ghostbusters, which saw the boys banished to another dimension, forcing Janine and a new team to take over. By issue #4 the boys were back, and the so-called New Ghostbusters would rotate in from time to time. I say this not because The New Ghostbusters was a bad story. I’m just wondering how the Ghostbusters will say “international.” As Burnham wrote in issue #1: “Everything about the Ghostbusters involves New York.”

Still, seeing the boys in Italy is fun thus far. Frankly, I’m just happy to have Burnham, Shoening, and this team writing the Ghostbusters again. These guys were seemingly made to write these characters, and if it were up to me, this series would have continued uninterrupted since it began. I suppose fans can take some solace in the idea that IDW would be stupid not to have a Ghostbusters book on the stands with the new movie coming out this July.

For more from Burnham and Shoening, check out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes/Ghostbusters

Image from comicbookresourcescom.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

Posted in Uncategorized

First Impressions: Superman, Aquaman, Ghostbusters, Teen Titans

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman #1 (2011)TITLE: Superman #1
AUTHOR: George Perez
PENCILLER: Jesus Merino
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was a FANTASTIC first issue, which carried over one of my favorite elements from Action Comics #1: Superman searching for truth and justice on the social level in a world that seems dominated by corporate interest.

In this issue we learn that The Daily Planet has been sold to a corporation called Galaxy Communications, which apparently uses illegal tactics and yellow journalism in its reporting. Furious, Clark Kent refuses to attend the big gala in honor of the sale. Galaxy proceeds to change it’s name to the Planet Global Network, and names Lois Lane as their nightly news producer and executive vice president of new media. Suddenly, the city is attacked by a giant fire monster (who apparently has ties to Krypton). Superman battles the creature, and at the end we get a glimpse into Clark and Lois’ personal lives in the new DCU (Remember, they’ve never been married in this continuity.).

Superman #1, 2011, Clark and Lois, Jesus MerinoAs a former reporter, I found the insight into the current state of the news industry to be an effective way to illustrate Superman’s views on white collar corruption. We also see the battle between Superman and the monster from PGN’s vantage point, which is very effective. During the fight, much of the narrative consists of text from a news story later written by Clark Kent, which is cheesy. Still, it’s forgivable.

Superman spends a portion of this issue brooding, which is something we’re not necessarily used to. When the old Superman got angry, often times he was like a parent who’d lost his temper. This character isn’t like that. He seems inclined to be much more emotional, which isn’t a bad thing. I just hope we get a balance between the grim and the optimistic. Superman has been a rather angry young man this month, and he has reason to be. But let’s not turn him into Batman, okay?

All in all, a complete 180 in quality from what we’ve been seeing in Superman recently. I’m very excited about this book.

***

Ghostbusters #1 (2011)TITLE: Ghostbusters #1
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLER: Dan Shoening, Tristan Jones
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

I once said that any writer of a Ghostbusters comic book would likely never recapture the magic Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis created in the movies. I maintain that to this day. However, the first issue of IDW’s new Ghostbusters series comes the closest out of any GB book I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a few).

We start the book with Ray having a nightmare, which features a delightful appearance by Ray’s brother, who looks exactly like John Belushi’s character from Blues Brothers. It’s a very endearing tribute. We then go into Winston and Peter tracking down a ghost at an apartment complex, who turns out to be someone that fans know VERY well. Then, in a back up story, we see that Walter Peck (William Atherton’s character from the first movie) will be butting into our heroes’ lives very soon.

Ghostbusters #1, 2011, Dan ShoeningThis book really has the total package for Ghostbusters fans. Burnham’s writing is solid. It’s not too corny, but not too serious either. To me, there’s a delicate balance that goes into creating a Ghostbusters story. You’ve got to make the threat believable and scary, but also be lighthearted and funny. That’s tough to do. But Burnham’s off to a great start.

Dan Shoening’s art is always a treat for me. I’ve loosely followed his Deviant Art page for a few years now, and it’s obvious he’s a Ghostbusters nut. He even co-manned a pitch for a new Ghostbusters comic a few years ago. His art fits the style and tone of the story, and it’s obvious he’s as passionate about the content as any diehard fan would be.

If the book keeps up with this kind of content, Ghostbusters #1 could very well become one of my favorite ongoing titles. I could gush about this book for awhile, but I’d prefer you go out and read it for yourself.

***

Aquaman #1, 2011TITLE: Aquaman #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

Well, how about this? An Aquaman who’s aware of his status as a pop culture punch line.

The most interesting moments in Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’ first issue of Aquaman are when ordinary citizens are either chuckling at the character, or saying weird things to him. At one point, Aquaman attempts to have lunch at a seafood restaurant, and someone says: “You can’t get the fish and chips…you talk to fish!” The character himself is getting a chance to respond to the public’s perception of him, which is interesting. Though, I find the idea of Aquaman sitting down in a seafood restaurant in full costume to be pretty stupid.

As a threat known as The Trench makes its way up from the Atlantic ocean, Aquaman and Mera decide that they’re going to live on the surface, and attempt to start a new life. One would assume their lives as superheroes won’t allow this transition to be easy.

Fans have wanted to see Geoff Johns tackle Aquaman for awhile now. They got that in Brightest Day, and they’ll get more of it here. I’ll stick with this series for the near future, simply out of interest for what Johns will do. Plus, Ivan Reis’ art is always lovely.

***

Teen Titans #1, 2011TITLE: Teen Titans #1
AUTHOR: Scott Lobdell
PENCILLER: Brett Booth
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

I don’t think I’m ever going to dig Red Robin’s new costume. It’s just…wrong. It just looks way too cumbersome and silly. In this issue, Tim Drake uses his new wings to block a storm of bullets coming at he and Wonder Girl courtesy of a helicopter. That’s great and all, but the old Red Robin would have simply EVADED THE GUNFIRE!!!!

My disgust with the costume aside, Teen Titans #1 isn’t so bad. We kick the issue off with Kid Flash (who is apparently still Bart Allen, not Wally West), rushing to help with a burning building, but ends up making the situation a LOT worse. This apparently adds fuel to the media’s claims that many teenage meta-humans are menaces. Meanwhile, Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (see Superboy #1) is hunting down teenage metas, and the poorly dressed Red Robin rushes to save Cassandra Sandsmark, who the press call Wonder Girl. In response to the resulting battle, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. decides to release their secret weapons (or at least one of them): Superboy.

Teen Titans #1, 2011, Brett BoothA few things that caught my attention in this issue:
– It seems to run side by side with the current Superboy story arc.
– Tim Drake will apparently be the one who to bring the Teen Titans together, much like Batman will be the one to form the Justice League (according to solicitations at least). Funny how these two loners are inclined to create superhero teams…
– Wonder Girl’s costume is slightly reminiscent of Donna Troy’s, from the standpoint of the stars in space design. Curious.

Will I come back for more Teen Titans? Probably. The concept of teenagers being reckless with their superpowers intrigues me, as that’s something real teenagers would likely do. But I’m telling you, Red Robin’s costume might ruin it for me. I’m THAT bothered by it.

Interior image 1 from insidepulse.com. Interior image 2 from bleedingcool.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/