Welcome to February’s IDW Pubwatch! This month we saw the rollout of IDW’s 20/20 Anniversary event. Special issues of Jem and the Holograms, My Little Pony, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were released for the occasion. Some jumped ahead twenty years, others went back twenty years to an important moment in their character’s past. In this month’s piece, I’ll highlight which ones I consider to be the standouts of the bunch.
But first, IDW isn’t the only one celebrating an anniversary this year. Let’s talk about what other upcoming events they have planned.
Happy 35th Anniversary to the Ghostbusters
The Ghostbuster franchise is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, and in the wake of a teaser trailer for a new movie, set in the original continuity, IDW has announced a new weekly comic event starting in April. Each week will see a standalone issue, focusing on a different team. It will start with the original “Prime” team, but also highlight the team from the 1980s cartoon, the women of Answer the Call, and the next generation, Extreme Ghostbusters.
I recently read the previous Ghostbuster cross-over event, Crossing Over, and enjoyed spending more time with the ladies from the 2016 movies (especially Holtzmann) and was starting to get a little attached to some of the other new-to-me characters. So I’m glad to see they won’t be disappearing from my comic TBR any time soon.
Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet Again
Ghostbusters isn’t the only franchise from the ’80s celebrating its 35th anniversary this year: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are joining in on the fun too. And since Batman’s 80th anniversary also happens to be in 2019, there seems like no better time to bring these characters back together for the third and final run of their crossover comic.
This last volume will be made up of six issues, with the creative team of James Tynion IV and Freddie E. Williams returning to finish what they started. In volume one, the heroes fought the Foot Clan in Batman’s home turf of Gotham, then for volume two, they all returned to New York to battle Bane. In this final volume, they’ll face the classic TMNT villain, Krang. There isn’t much more information at this time, but if you grew up with these characters this is one event you won’t want to miss—and since it doesn’t start until May 1, you have time to read (or reread) the first two volumes beforehand.
Jem and the Holograms 20/20
Sina Grace (author), Siobhan Keenan (artist), Cathy Le (colours), Shawn Lee (letters)
January 23, 2019
The first of the featured comics this month is my favourite of the IDW 20/20 event. In this issue, the reader has jumped ahead twenty years to find out what our favourite ’80s girl bands are up to now. We start with the Misfits (their rivals) who are still going strong… so strong they’ve just been inducted into the Hall of Fame. But when Kimber shows up at the party, we find out things haven’t been going so great for the Holograms. They’ve broken up, Kimber and Jerrica aren’t speaking, and the music label is about to send actual holograms on tour to replace them and profit off their work.
Jem and the Holograms always seemed like the cookie cutter perfect group of friends and musicians, so I appreciated that this comic gave them some new challenges and showed that even they weren’t immune to the trappings of fame. There is a really positive message at the heart of this issue, but thanks the Misfits and their antics it isn’t too sentimental or heavy-handed. Sina Grace does a great job capturing what all these women (both Misfits and Holograms) would be like twenty years in the future. They’re different of course, older and wiser, but they’re also the same characters we know and love.
Unlike the other properties featured in the IDW 20/20 event, Jem doesn’t have a regular monthly series and reading this issue reminded me how much I miss that. So I’d love to see some Jem-related announcements join the Ghostbusters and TMNT announcements above sometime soon—after all, it’s their 35th anniversary next year!
Spider King: Frostbite
Adrian Bloch (colours), Simone D’Armini (artist), Chas! Pangburn (letters), Josh Vann (author)
January 23, 2019
Spider King is a story of a group of unlikely Viking heroes in 965 AD, who find themselves fighting to save the earth against alien invaders in Northern Europe. The original comic series ran last year, and Spider King: Frostbite picks up where the previous volume ended. It finds our heroes trekking through a snowstorm, continuing to fight the alien invaders, this time in the form of creepy, vicious, talking animals.
I haven’t read the original series, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this comic. The characters all have larger-than-life personalities and following them along on their adventures was quite the ride. It’s a humorous comic that somehow manages to walk the line between high fantasy and science fiction—not a combination you see every day! I also really liked the design of the Vikings and the animals. They’re a little grotesque and a little cute at the same time. Colours in this comic were bright and varied, which, paired with the action-packed plot, made every page feel even more energetic. Since the original comic is from the same creative team, I’m looking forward to going back and following these characters on their adventure from the very beginning.
Star Trek 20/20
Peter David (author), Gilberto Lazcano (letters), J.K. Woodward (artist)
January 30, 2019
The other IDW 20/20 standout is Star Trek. Where Jem took us twenty years into the future, Star Trek takes us twenty years into the past. Picard is already a captain, but this is before his Enterprise days. He’s leading the crew of the U.S.S. Stargazer with Jack Crusher (Wesley’s dad) by his side. He’s the same grumpy, awkward, and somewhat rude Picard we saw in season one of The Next Generation. When a dangerous mission comes up, he goes down to the planet, proving that he’s the kind of captain who will do what he must to protect his crew. But then the mission goes sideways and things are looking dire for the captain until a young cadet, Beverly Howard (later known as Beverly Crusher), beams down to the save the day.
The official blurb for this comic is a little misleading. If you only read that, you would think this was just Picard’s story, but it’s also Beverly’s, and a glimpse inside the early stages of their relationship and the foundation it was built on. She was never one of my favourite characters on The Next Generation, but in this issue, she kicks ass and we get to see her in a whole new light. It was not at all what I was expecting from this comic, a pleasant surprise.
Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive #3, cover by Michael Allred
Transformers: Historia, cover by Sara Pitre-Durocher
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #90, cover by Michael Dialynas
Ghostbusters: IDW 20/20
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: IDW 20/20
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder in Hell #1
Uncle Scrooge: My First Millions #4
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #74
Rick and Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons #4