A supernatural comedy which had some genuinely scary moments (as a seven year old in 1984, believe me when I tell you I was NOT ready for the horrifying library ghost right at the beginning), lots of memorable characters, quotable dialogue and a huge number of generally impressive special effects which stand up fairly well even now (stop motion Terror Dogs aside), 1984’s Ghostbusters was an enormously successful blockbuster.
Until Ghostbusters: Afterlife, it had struggled with unsatisfactory sequels – or at least, one disappointing sequel and a further reboot that didn’t really do justice to the original’s concept and quirky charms. So it’s interesting to see IDW’s Deviations – essentially their version of Marvel’s What If? – take on the job of making a direct sequel to the original, albeit by changing one small detail from the Ghostbusters finale: this comic answers the question of what would happen if our supernatural extermination team hadn’t crossed the streams of their ghost-catching proton guns – a dangerous act which allowed them to defeat big bad Gozer in his Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man form at the end of the movie.
A few months have passed since Gozer descended upon New York as a giant piece of cute confectionery – and the Ghostbusters aren’t exactly beloved by the people they tried to save. Being blamed for the emergence of Gozer – and despite their ongoing attempts to clean up the mess he’s constantly leaving in his wake (in the form of Mini-Pufts, mostly – I guess the makers of Ghostbusters: Afterlife checked out this comic too) – means that they aren’t the heroes they were lauded as by the end of the first film (though in fairness, they weren’t exactly being treated as heroes by the second film either, which was an odd direction for Ghostbusters 2 to take after the joyously upbeat 1984 film’s climax). Oddly, Gozer himself hasn’t exactly been having much fun after his emergence into 1984 New York, being trapped in his sweet, cute form – and he’s keen to get back to the dimension he escaped from to rule that instead. The Ghostbusters agree to help him – and hatch a plan to rid the world of him once and for all. If only they’d stopped following their own advice and crossed the streams in the first place, right?
First things first: the art is wonderful; sitting somewhere between the depictions of the characters from the movies and their counterparts in cartoon The Real Ghostbusters – much like the latter, Egon here is blonde and Winston is sans moustache, though the individually coloured suits and other elements familiar from viewers of the cartoon are gone, replaced with the designs from the movie.
Still, the art is great. The writing isn’t bad either, but the concept itself just doesn’t lend itself to a particularly interesting story and there’s some awfully convenient plot contrivances (the Ghostbusters just happen to have a time manipulating ghost lying around, ready to be used).
That said, there are some amusing moments – Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis’s characters, trapped in their Terror Dog forms, are changed back into humans halfway, for example – and the characterisation of the Ghostbusters team is handled nicely.
The recreation of a famous moment – slightly changed – from the movie is a neat touch too. It’s not bad, per se – it’s all nicely put together too – and I feel like a bit of a grump for just finding it to be a little bit dull.
If you’re a big Ghostbusters fan, you may well get a kick out of this slight deviation from the events of the first film. I could definitely take it or leave it though; by the end of it, as much fun as the creative team seemed to have with it, I was left a bit nonplussed by the whole thing.
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