modernnestalgia_ghostbustersEverything old is new again, lately.  Star Trek is hotter now than it’s been since the original series first leapt to movie screens.  We’re getting remakes/reboots of Cliffhanger, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Nightmare on Elm Street, and…well, just about every damn movie we saw between 1970-1990.  Still, some franchises, despite languishing for years without new material, refuse to die, and refuse to be remade.  Gremlins constantly has new toys come out from many different toy manufacturers.  He-Man, despite many attempts to be remade/rebooted, still finds itself at its most successful when collector’s can get their hands on stuff that looks like the original figures.

One of the most obvious examples of a franchise that refuses to die is Ghostbusters.  Despite having only two movies, the franchise has managed to stay alive thanks to long running television cartoons, and the love of its faithful fans.

Oddly though, one area that the Ghostbusters have managed to not entirely succeed in is in the comics arena.  Most significantly, from 1988 to 1993, Now! Comics published a series based on The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series, and an adaptation of the Ghostbusters II movie.

That is, to say, until recently. Read my thoughts on the two most recent Ghostbuster comic series after the jump!

Ghostbusters Legion #1
Ghostbusters: Legion from 88MPH Studios

In 2004, a brand new, unknown comic company named 88MPH Studios shocked everyone and picked up the rights to publish a mini series based on the popular Ghostbusters franchise, and the result was the four-part Legion, written by Andrew Dabb and Steve Kurth.  Due to significant delays between issues and financial problems within 88MPH Studios, fans became disgruntled, and sales dropped significantly after the first issue.  In fact, to be honest, I pretty much completely lost track of the series after the initial issue.

You can get your hands on all four issues for a total of between $30-$80, depending on where you look.  Is a series with a $12 cover price worth the money?  If you’re a fan of the Ghostbusters, the answer is a resounding yes.

While not perfect, Ghostbusters: Legion does a number of things right.  The humor is spot-on – the jokes don’t get tiresome or annoying (which is hard not to have happen in a comic with a character like Peter Venkman), the characters all get a bit of the spotlight, and the story itself is very well done.  The art by Steve Kurth (from Devil’s Due’s G.I. Joe series) is fantastic.  It doesn’t necessarily look like the actors (rights issues with the likenesses are probably the cause for that), but you know who everyone is right away.

The story is set about six months after the end of the first Ghostbusters movie.  Ray Stantz is not only exhausted, he’s depressed.  After all the Ghostbusters did for the city, they’re still seen as a bit of a joke, and the popularity they did have is quickly fading.  Venkman is having issues with his girlfriend Dana Barrett.  Egon is, well, Egon.  Winston is finding out more about the past of his co-workers, and a little bit more about the history of where the idea for Ghostbusters came from in the first place.  On top of all this, the city is getting plagues with SEVERE ghost issues, and not the usual ghosts.  They’re getting smarter, and more aggressive.  The mystery behind the appearances seems to be tied to someone in Ray’s past, but why would an old friend want to kill Ray?

Again, there’s a lot to like in the series, but there are some issues.  The fact that the series takes place in 2004 is problematic, as that basically reboots Ghostbusters to modern times.  While most fans find fault in the idea that the series essentially negates Ghostbusters II, I would say that by changing the time period for the original Ghostbusters, nothing in the series necessarily negates the second movie, which could, essentially, also take place in modern times.  Still, it’s a little jarring if you’re expecting 80’s references, and you hear Cameron Diaz namedropped.

In addition, the main issue I have with the series is that it feels a little rushed, story wise.  I would have liked to have seen the story stretched to six issues, not to necessarily decompress the storyline, but to give the story the room it needed to breathe.  Then again, given the financial problems 88MPH studios faced, had there been more than four issues, we may have never seen the end of the series.  As it is, a sequel ongoing series never saw the light of day.  I’d be deadly curious to know how they planned to continue the storylines.

If you love the Ghostbusters and can get your hands on the series for a reasonable price, this is a must read for fans of the franchise.

Ghostbusters: The Other Side from IDW

In 2008, IDW picked up the rights to publish Ghostbusters comic books, and their initial outting, The Other Side, found our heroes…well, dead.  At the end of the first issue (no big spoiler here) they are killed by the ghosts of some classic, famous gangsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano.  This is after a bad ghostbusting where Venkman’s body gets possessed, and his soul gets sucked into pergatory.  With all of them now stuck in pergatory, the Ghostbusters need to find out how to get out pergatory and come back to life, all the while with the other souls in pergatory trying to kill them…again!

Written by Keith Champagne, with art from Tom Nguyen, the series wisely throws out everything that fans have come to love about the Ghostbusters, and I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible.  This series seriously sucks.  Fans seem to agree with me, from what I’ve seen on GB message boards.

As if the ghosts of famous gangsters wasn’t an already annoying enough plot thread, we also find the Ghostbusters teaming up with the ghosts of J. Edgar Hoover and Elliot Ness to take down the baddies.  Oh, and we see angels and heaven.  And Venkman gets super powers in purgatory.

The jokes aren’t funny (remember before how I said it’s quite easy to get annoying – case in point), and the storyline doesn’t feel like a Ghostbusters story.  I know, at one time, there was talk that the third Ghostbusters movie would involve the heroes dying and going to Hell, but I have to believe this isn’t based off of that idea.  There’s nothing about this series that screams “Ghostbusters” to me, aside from the title.  A new series, Displaced Aggression, is due out this September, and involves the Ghostbusters being thrown across time.

Is this so difficult?  One of the most important aspects of the Ghostbusters is their New York backdrop.  They’re New Yorkers, dammit!  Here’s the formula…you take the Ghostbusters, throw in some ghosts in New York, rinse, repeat.

If you’re seeking out good Ghostbusters reading, seek out the 88MPH studios series, or the Now! Comics series from the last 80’s/early 90’s – those were fun tales.

What about you guys?  Any good Ghostbusters tales you’d like to recommend?