Long-time friend of Ghostbusters HQ, Fritz Baugh has been kind enough to chime in with his thoughts on the IDW Comics series from time to time. We turn the floor over to Fritz for his insight on the latest offering, Ghostbusters Get Real #1. Spoilers are abound in his thoughts, so if you haven't read the issue, you're warned to steer clear...
Hey folks. Long time, no see.
As much as a loved the first Ghostbusters movie from the moment I saw it, it wasn't until 1986 that I became the kind of Ghostbusters superfan that would one day be christened "Ghosthead." I was fifteen in the fall of 1986; a lot of people my age were "outgrowing" cartoons, and considering most of the preachy, formulaic crap that inundated Saturday Morning I couldn't really blame them. I preferred to sleep in most of the time. Then came the morning of November 1st, 1986.
I was wandering in and my brothers were watching a show with... well, vaguely anime-esque looking guys wearing flight suits and proton packs. "It's the new Ghostbusters cartoon," they tell me. Holy cow, really? But none of them look like Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd! The flight suits are different colors! One of them sounds like Garfield! Good grief, Harold Ramis's character is blond! At least they remembered Ernie Hudson's character existed, they seemed to forget about him in a lot of the promo material. Ah well, it's Saturday Morning, this will probably be really watered down and stupid... I'll just sit down and pick apart the nonsense...
Except it wasn't watered down, stupid, or nonsense. As time would reveal, that episode-- "When Halloween Was Forever"-- was one of the best of the series. The show was called "The Real Ghostbusters" for reasons that could take up an article of its own, but a team of top-notch writers led by J. Michael Straczynski (later of Babylon 5) and a crew of voice actors that rivaled the comic chemistry of their movie counterparts (including, yes, the late Lorenzo "Garfield" Music) took the cinematic outline and created a full-blown world that didn't talk down to its audience the way practically every other cartoon of the day did. That would change, as many of you well know, but let's not dwell on that-- those early days were magic. I was hooked for life.
To this day, and I know I'm in a minority, I still see the Ghostbusters world through the filter of the animated series. You don't find too many pictures of Bill Murray on my web site, but you do see quite a few of that guy who sounded like Garfield in 1986.
So the last dozen years have been... mixed. Almost all of the "revival" products of 2003 and beyond have been aimed more toward the movie-only paradigm, albeit with a few, to use a phrase, "fun nods" to the cartoon here and there-- like the Containment Unit in both 88MPH and IDW's series, the "New Ghostbusters" wearing the RGB colors, IDW Janine's haircut and her dating a guy who looked exactly like Extreme Ghostbusters Egon, and the loads of visual in-jokes and callbacks that artist Dan Schoening packs into every story he does.
Well, as much as I loved the IDW ongoing series (thirty-six issues of awesome) and the crossover with those pizza-eating Turtles (I wonder if Donnie is now wishing he'd stayed on IDWGB Earth?) the announcement of a crossover between the IDW Ghostbusters and the animated Ghostbusters had me over the moon. MY Ghostbusters were coming back to comics! And now, I finally have Ghostbusters Get Real #1.
In a very specific tie-in to the RGB storylines, it takes place during a favorite episode of mine, "Janine Melnitz: Ghostbuster". It first aired in syndication in 1987; it's the 48th episode in the DVD set, and the thirty-fifth by air date. It features Janine in a strong performance, where she basically has to bail the Ghostbusters out of trouble all by herself when they run afoul of the Greek god Proteus. Ironically though, RGB Janine doesn't actually appear in this comic outside the profile picture on page 1.
We see the Ghostbusters running around town stopping the ghosts that Proteus' activities have stirred up. In Schoening's penchant for in-jokes, a woman who looks a lot like Dahlia from "Moaning Stones" (Claudia) is being menaced by a ghost that looks a lot like Madame LaFarge from "Drool, the Dog Faced Goblin" (Natasha). The Ghostbusters catch Natasha, and Claudia promises to help them one day.
That day turns out to be today-- as we see in the episode, right before the commercial break, the statue of Atlas at Rockefeller Center comes to life and zaps the Ghostbusters away. We find them later in the episode imprisoned by Proteus. But as we find out, they had a much longer trip to get there than we ever knew. Claudia apparently knows some magic, and cast a protective charm that took the Ghostbusters out of Proteus' control. Proteus shows up at Claudia's place, and he's pissed. She didn't know where the Ghostbusters have gone, so he turns her into a bird, perhaps hoping that Claudia's cat Hollis delivers what Proteus no doubt considers a more amusingly ironic ending that him just blasting her to atoms. (I loved how Hollis is the long lost twin of Phineus Eventide's cat Tarantula. Dan hasn't done too many callbacks to the NOW Comics series, but Tarantula and Eventide were two of the more memorable characters.)
Artistically, unsurprisingly in light of the variant cover of V2 #8 (or as I prefer to call it, GB #24), Dan Schoening and Luis Delgado completely nail the look of the animated Ghostbusters. It's so on-model it could be mistaken for a "cine-story" made out of animation cells.
So what happened to the Ghostbusters?
They pop up back outside Ghostbusters Central, but things look... off to them. Janine's there, but she's messing with something in her desk and neither she nor the four Ghostbusters notice that each looks... different than each is used to. (Janine, you see, has changed her hair again--ironically, in the ongoing series she sported a haircut patterned off the RGB 1986 one, but I guess to make her more "different" IDW Janine has reverted to one closer to GB1).
The Ghostbusters go upstairs and everything's been moved around. Slimer is in the observation tank; they let him loose and he goes nuts, and Egon points out that it may not be Slimer. Well, it's not the same Slimer-- this Slimer was never domesticated the way RGB Slimer was, and add in after-effects of the mandala (GBVG) and Idunas (GB#2) he's a lot more feral. They zap him, and to add to the confusion the real owners of the place get home-- four guys who look like the law firm that starred in their movie, but not close enough to get sued for violating likeness right restrictions.
Having just finished their crossover with the Ninja Turtles, the IDW Ghostbusters figure out pretty quick that they're having cross-dimensional visitors once more. The two teams of Ghostbusters look over the transdimensional gate, and RGB Ray immediately wants one. Good news, Ray: you eventually build one (See: "Egon's Ghost", "Egon On The Rampage", "The Copycat", and NOW's "The Father Thing Trilogy" in Real Ghostbusters Issues #9-11). But that's all in the future for you. (Even though, according to production order, "Egon On The Rampage" has already happened, or in air date order "Egon's Ghost" was the very last episode. Oh shut up, Fritz.)
Just about then, Janine busts into the basement and gets a shock-- because of RGB Egon's resemblance to her ex-boyfriend Roger. (Well, a younger Roger. He looked like EGB Egon, remember?) I really hope this comes up in conversation between both Egons. It probably won't, because this is exactly what Egon hates talking about in any universe, but I can hope.
So eight Ghostbusters are going on a bust. But was we well know from the cut scenes, Proteus is looking for them.
It's gonna be a long commercial break.