Fritz Baugh has been kind enough to continue providing his reviews for the excellent Ghostbusters on-going series from IDW for SPT. I've been loving this series from issue one and their "Mass Hysteria" storyline hasn't disappointed. This issue features fun nods to Ghostbusters' past for us die-hard fans as always without distracting from the narrative. The creative team behind this book has truly harnessed the spirit (no pun intended, I swear) of the Ghostbusters franchise and it's going to be sad to see it come to an end. More on that in an article later today. In the meantime, here's Fritz...
SPOILERS AHEAD - YOU'VE BEEN WARNED, JR. GHOSTBUSTERS!
No real dilemma on the cover this time-- a Tristan Jones Real Ghostbusters cover without having to get rooked on the "retail incentive" price? And no Louis on it? And I'm a subscriber at the comic shop I buy at? Sign me up.
As the story starts, every Ghostbuster original, new, and others, have to take the stairs up Dana’s apartment building because Tiamat's shut down the elevators (editor's note: Tiamat being the big bad introduced at the beginning of the run, Gozer's mischievous sister). This seems familiar, and it won't be the last time this issue. They're stopped by the ghost of Judge Valkenheiser, but Winston files a "Motion to Dismiss" in the form of a ghost trap.
As they continue to climb the stairs, Venkman starts talking to himself. But not in the way you expect: standing in the way are aged versions of the original Ghostbusters, all decked out in the Fright Features uniforms familiar from the Real Ghostbusters Kenner action figure line, spouting all sorts of cryptic dialog and warnings. Ray tries to be optimistic and says, "Well, this proves we survive!" while Fright Feature Ray counters that they, "could just be temporal anomalies."
Fright Feature Egon, who has put on a little weight (Venkman later implores Egon to "knock off the Twinkies" to not end up like that), tells them Tiamat is more powerful that Gozer, but she's addicted to chaos, which is apparently some kind of clue. I normally roll my eyes when a Ghostbusters writer tries to one-up Gozer, but I make exceptions when a figure of real myth is involved (or HP Lovecraft). It makes Tiamat seem pretty frightening, which makes some of what happens later… well, I'm getting ahead of myself. I kept sorta hoping Janine would point out to Egon, "And why in the world does your older self have the same haircut I saw pictures of Roger sporting back in the 1980's?" Because Fright Feature Egon doesn't just have the white and red outfit (similar colors to Janine's uniform in "Mister Sandman Dream Me A Dream" interestingly enough) but even the Real Ghostbusters Egon swirl and rat tail.
Fright Feature Winston tells his younger self that he's the one who's gonna pull them through, but of course doesn't give any more details other than, "You'll figure it out when the time is right". After this, the Fright Feature Ghostbusters fade away.
The Ghostbusters mob reaches the top of the building and, lo and behold, it's a ziggarut. Dana and Louis, still possessed by Tiamat's goons (let's just call them "Vuul" and "Zinz Clortho") start trying to tease them, Louis/Zins first.
Ron: Can I shoot him?
Me: I'm with Ron and Venkman on this one.
And then Dana/Vuul starts trying to brain-screw Venkman, but just like with the Manitou a while back, he's having none of it. I almost wonder what it would be like if a monster starts threatening Venkman? Venkman thinks the monster is just pulling a trick or a brain-screw, and then the monster does exactly what it threatens some time.
So then Vuul and Zinz turn into bird-things instead of dogs, but still have Dana and Louis's faces, and the main event starts: Tiamat strides in. The Ghostbusters mob starts shooting her, but she shrugs if off and gets serious: she adopts a new form, the same kind of five-headed dragon Tiamat as seen in "I Am The City." But in Dan Schoening's artistic hands nevertheless ten-times more badass looking than in that somewhat spottily animated episode.
Unfortunately for our heroes, they don't have Marduk or Bahamut on speed dial.
Fortunately for our heroes, once dragon Tiamat appears… she doesn't really do anything. I start to wonder if M. Thunder, who has posted on the IDW message board criticizing Tiamat's lack of menace, has a point? I mean, I've seen the numbers on this one. Level 35 Solo Brute. 1610 HP. AC 51. I realize we don't want our heroes fireballed, ice-blasted, poison-gassed, acid-burned, and electrocuted out of existence, but there comes a point where a villain starts to look like all roar and no bite. I mean, c'mon, we have a horde of Ghostbusters, surely we could have her vaporize (insert your two or three least favorite characters in the series here. For example: Ron, the Rookie, and Louis) just to prove how badass she is while still leaving enough heroes to defeat her? I mean, Geoff Johns does stuff like that all the time… oh, now I see why not, then.
And what happens next? After the Ghostbusters climb the building, see Dana and Louis turned into animals, and the villain changes from a female humanoid to a giant monster, guess what? You won't believe it, they cross the streams!!!
Oh, why not? It all works, Tiamat is defeated. Dana and Louis are back to normal (well, except Louis still has Zinz's Freakazoid hair). Candy and teddy bears fall from the sky.
It's not candy and teddy bears. It's blood.
It ain't over yet, kiddies. In fact… it's only half time.
Erik Burnham hasn't lead us wrong yet; the last four issues were Tiamat jerking everyone around. Why not pull the ultimate headfake by letting the Ghostbusters think they'd defeated her?
Next issue: Since we hit #16, it must be time for Ghostbusters Vol. 3 #1. Strange that they'd do this right in the middle of a story, but… wait, it will be #17? Well all right then!