The New Ghostbusters #1: Second Stringers

What do Annie Potts, Fletch, a pasty bookworm and a fed with questionable taste in men have in common? Call 'em!

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Erik Burnham's and Dan Schoening's Ghostbusters series for IDW has been some good and breezy entertainment, and now they're stunting up a story that allows them to drop a new #1 issue on us. While slowly cultivating an unlikely supporting cast – including Kylie Griffin, the manager of an occult bookstore and Jonni-On-The-Spot for emergency Tobin's Spirit Guide consultations, and Melanie Ortiz, a federal agent who somehow took a liking to Peter Venkman during the recent cross-country ghost-busting road trip – Burnham has put erstwhile bookkeeper Janine Melnitz in charge of the mismatched squad as a replacement team.

Why? Because the original four have been abducted by ghosts and brought into some mysterious netherworld. But New York City remains in need of paranormal elimination services. Thus, out of duty, Janine steps up, and we've got lady Ghostbusters now. Trouble is, they're not licensed operators of the equipment, and that lets their perennial adversary Walter Peck step in and strongarm them into becoming an arm of his government regulatory agency. That's gonna be bad news when the boys who like their independence get back.

The kicker will be that they'll have to accept a knowledgable technician of Peck's choosing as well, and since Egon Spengler and Ray Stantz were really the only game in town, their absence means they'll have to go to Ron Alexander, who is currently in prison for being a hack rip-off of the Ghostbusters.

By the by, Ron Alexander looks like Chevy Chase in Fletch.

New Ghostbusters

Burnham's series has often gone meta – Ray's been periodically visited by a spirit guide of his own who looks unapologetically like Joliet Jake Blues, aka John Belushi (the guy Bill Murray's part of Peter Venkman was originally written for). In this case, there's no better arch-rival for the Dan Aykroyd and Murray-led team than Chevy Chase, the guy who ditched the Not Ready For Prime Time Players after one year, and who has such a reputation for dickishness that word is Murray decked him once after all that went down.

Schoening's art, as you can see, is extremely cartoony, invoking the old Real Ghostbusters animated series and then some. It does take a little getting used to, especially since Burnham's dialogue isn't afraid of double entendres and the level of detail in his storytelling would seem to lend itself more towards at least a little more drama in the illustrations. However, once you do get into it, it works pretty well, keeping things light enough to enjoy and never making us think they're taking themselves too seriously.

Thankfully, we're not losing the original cast of characters we all know and love, as their spirit world adventure looks as though it'll unfold right alongside Janine & Co.'s amusing attempts to fill their shoes. If that remains the case, The New Ghostbusters #1 just added another layer of fun to these paranormal investigators, and gave them some welcome gender diversity, too. Plus, Venkman in space. Sort of.