Ghostbusters – Answer the Call: The Ladies Are Back

Ghostbusters_ATC Cover B IDW Publishing

Ghostbusters – Answer the Call #2 

Kelly Thompson (Writer), Corin Howell (Artist), Valentina Pinto (Colours), Neil Uyetake (Letters)
IDW Publishing
3 January, 2018

You know you are in for a good story when it opens with “Everything is awful.”

And everything really is awful for the Ghostbusters at the moment. Having unknowingly unleashed the Schreckgespenst, a class VII ghost, upon the unsuspecting denizens of Manhattan, the quartet must find a way to arm themselves against the spectre and bring it down once and for all.

But Shrecky, as they have taken to calling the spook, isn’t an ordinary ghost. The former Doctor Krueger gets his power from feeding on fear. His first targets? The Ghostbusters themselves. Shrecky will delve into the heart of these four seemingly fearless fighters and burrow into their souls. Can they overcome that which they fear the most?

The all-female Ghostbusters film remake may have sparked differing opinions among fans, with an unhealthy dose of misogyny thrown in, but there was much to love about the film, particularly the characters – Ghostbusters Erin, Abby, Holtzmann and Patty, and their incompetent secretary, Kevin.

As we are unlikely to get a sequel to the film, we can at least take solace in the characters living on in the world of comic books. IDW has a few different Ghostbusters comics running now, but the Answer the Call miniseries puts the female team in the spotlight. And so far, they’ve been shining.

The story is just the right mix of goofy and believable, which is exactly what one would expect from the franchise. The characters all have distinct voices and I appreciate the fact that writer Kelly Thompson has managed to get the actors’ intonations just right–from Kate McKinnon’s staccato, short sentences to Kirsten Wiig’s unbridled optimism. You can practically hear them reading the dialogue from the comic. Holtzmann continues to be over-enthusiastic while Patty is the realist, trying to temper Holtzmann’s delusions of grandeur. Erin is pragmatic, taking care of logistics and sometimes getting stuck on the details, instead of looking at the big picture. Abby is the go-getter but also a bit too gung-ho to fight Shrecky–she wants revenge for him possessing her in the previous issue. All of this comes out in their mannerisms, but especially in their speech. It ties the book into the film world beautifully.

The text is so well thought out and precise, that it is almost a shame that the art doesn’t reflect the film. Corin Howell’s illustrations are great, there is no doubt about it, but it would have been better if the characters looked like their onscreen counterparts. However, if the publisher is aiming to target audiences who have not watched the film (and whose perceptions might be coloured by their impressions of the actors), or could not acquire the rights to the cast’s very recognizable likenesses, then this artistic choice is justified. It’s not my ideal, but this approach to the art does work from a certain point of view.

Ghostbusters ATC Pg 10 panel IDW Publishing
That is indeed, very cool!

If there is one thing many comics strive, and fail, to do, is to give all their characters equal importance within a single issue. This comic manages to do just that. As I was reading the comic and came across the panels where ‘Shrecky’ induces the quartet’s deepest fears, I was concerned that we either would not be given any insight into a couple of the characters or that they would not have fully fleshed out fears. I was proven incorrect, much to my delight.

We saw hints of the characters’ fears in issue #1, and now see the depths of those horrors. The art really pops in these double-page spreads; their fears are palpable off the page, drawn with intricate detail. The contrast of colours, so bright in the real world but so diminished in this ‘fear dimension’ make these pages a completely immersive experience for the reader.

What I also noticed in this comic is that Patty is being given a lot more room to grow. Leslie Jones was a bit shortchanged in the film, being introduced much later in the film than the other leads. Many fans noticed that the white female characters were all scientists while Patty, the sole woman of colour, was a MTA employee. Here she is shown to be more of a historian, her skills giving context to the scientific work that the Ghostbusters do. This is a good improvement on the source material.

For fans of the 2016 Ghostbusters, this series will bring great joy as it does the characters justice. For those that never watched the film, this series gives them an all-female team of ghost-hunters who are funny and loveable. And, for those who hated the film… they should give this series a try, it is so much fun! I genuinely hope this series does well so we can get more of the all-female team on their own. Their banter is to die for; and their camaraderie a welcome introduction to the comic world. A mini-series will not be enough!

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir