Monday, April 21, 2014

CBR Ghostbusters Legion


When something's strange in the neighborhood... who ya gonna call??

Apparently, not 88MPH Studios.

Comic title: Ghostbusters: Legion also known as Ghostbusters (88MPH Comics) or simply Ghostbusters (2004)
Written by Andrew Dabb 
Illustrated by Steve Kurth

Published by 88MPH Studios 
From 2004
Lineup Ghostbusters series
Format: Single issues from 88MPH's Ghostbusters series #1-4.

Here is the Ghostbusters comics no one remembers.. or at least try not to do so.

Compared to many other classic 1980s series, Ghostbusters sort of slowed down following the release of the second movie.

It had been many years since the cartoon ended. Sure, we got Extreme Ghostbusters back in 1997, but over the years no new material had been produced in ages...

Not even comic books.

Before IDW Publishing was finally able to secure the rights for the entire Ghostbusters franchise nowadays and offer us a long-running quality comic adpatation, the Ghostbusters went through several more hands.

After a long hiatus since the old Real Ghostbusters tie-in comic series, the franchise finally returning to the medium at the now defunct 88MPH Studios in 2004. It had been quite some time since any new material had been produced.

The Candian publisher announced a 4-issue mini-series to much anticipation for the fans. Finally, this was it. We would be getting new Ghostbusters stories!

Andrew Dabb was announced as writer, with Steve Kurth on pencil duties.

But this was not the Ghostbusters anyone was looking for. This was going to be a more serious take on the GB, to distance itself from the previous Real Ghostbusters series.


Fine. I can work with that. That might be fun actually, if done properly.

The "Ghostbusters: Legion" storyline was going to be a reboot of sorts.

Only the events of the first film happened here. Anything from the second movie or cartoon was ignored. And besides that there are some questionable changes...

The story doesn't takes place in 1984 anymore, rather in 2004. About six month after the Ghostbusters defeated Gozer for good.

Our boys are now back ghost busting on a daily basis as a job.

But the city is about to get into some new trouble...

We pick up with Venkman, Ray, Egon and Winston. The whole "Ghostbusters fad" as sort of died out (think about the beginning of the second film - but I thought it was being ignored?!).

They've been running into some new personal problems (except Winston, but more on that below..). Peter Venkman has some issues with Dana Barrett (she's back, yay! it's a plus compared to how other people got the rights to the license usually... but she's only used as a plot device here... oh...). Our lawyer Louis Tully has since become a very rich man.  But he's barely recognizable now.. Turned into a parody of what he originally was....

And Michael is back. Michael who?

The entire premise revolve around the return of this Michael Draverhaven. Who is he, you ask? Apparently back in their college days, there was originally a fourth member before Winston who helped them establish all their paranormal tech and ran some first experiments with our heroes. One time he opened a doorway to another "realm", an outerworld of some sort. Which while proved an existence of different plane of realities, injured him. He ended up locked in an asylum.

But Michael was only biding his time and planning his revenge (why...?). He is now able to summon and control ghosts! Michael harnessed a legion of ghosts (hence the title!).

All being said, it's a pretty original idea for a story. With a quite unique villain for the Busters to face. But it also kind of feels forced. From Michael's convulsed origin story to the drama that ensues. It's all kinds of cliché and not that clever...

Also Winston is given so little to do here... It feels like Dabb had simply no idea what to do with him or how to use him. It's really not that complicated, I mean, Winston should be this fun everyday man.. Winston should always feel like the more concrete practical mind of the bunch, helping along these crazy situations.

From its conception there were a lot of elements working against this series...

First of all, all our protagonists feel radically out of character. Way too much drama here and there. It's like Andrew Dabb was mostly concerned with making things feel gritty... Ray was turned into this serious drama-filled character, with guilt about his failures and whatnot.

Because we all know grittiness was something Ghostbusters always needed... Remember it was supposed to be a comedy? Sheesh...

Also this dark 'n' gritty take on Louis just doesn't work in my eyes.. Louis was a simple silly nerd... turned into this sort of stalker and pervert here...

Art-wise, while nobody looks anything alike their actor-counterparts, you do get a general sense for the characters. Easily to recognize in a second. Nice enough faces and action-packed panels.

But then you get like about a half dozen inkers for only these mere 4 issues: Pierre-Andre Derry, Chuck Gibson, Serge LaPointe, Michel Lacombe, Ulises Grostieto, Jimmy Reyes and Marco Galli!!

88MPH's Ghostbusters was planned as on-going series for June 2004, to coincide with the franchise's 20th Anniversary.

This mini-series was supposed to build up the new status quo.

88MPH decided to swamp the market with a hundred variant covers (never a good thing to do for such a small independent publisher).

This mini-series was launched following a huge delay for the first issue! Followed by several more sudden delays...

Following this erratic first run a trade paperback was announced and the actual series sheduled for summer. The trade would have featured a foreword by Dan Aykroyd himself. The trade got delayed more and more... Until finally being canceled (though some copies made it through the UK thanks to the local publisher Titan Comics).

Several more delays and cancellations later, the actual series never came out and 88MPH went bankrupt.

TOKYOPOP would get the license back in 2008 before IDW finally acquired for good, to this day. It seems the failure behind this series made Sony hesitant to sub-license Ghostbusters for several years...

Overall, Ghostbusters Legion is a nice comic. An original story with some decent artwork. Just not worthy of Ghostbusters in my eyes...

Besides all the trouble 88MPH Studios ran with, it's actually pretty decent. But it feels so cliché, so dull and specifically so redundant... From the idea to move the Ghostbusters back to "present day" to the out-of-character gritty tone... It shouldn't be that bad, but it kind of is.

A special 5th issue "issue #0" was announced but after being delayed for a while ended up as a Convention Exclusive.

Titled "The Zeddemore Factor", it was also planned for the trade paperback collection that never was. This story takes place during the events of the first film, on Winston's very first ghost busting job. Like the main "mini", it also was written by Dabb, but drawn by Billy Dallas Patton instead. It follows Windston on his new job along those crazy Ghostbusters. He has some doubts about all this. When a night at the museum turns him into the heart of the team, as Winston decides to help come up with some actual strategy while our boys were running around trouble catching those ghosts... A short Winston-centric story. It's just a shame Winston never go to do much in the main series... 

After this problematic run and having a lot of trouble keeping this uncertain schedule, this small publisher (that had actually never-published a proper on-going) lost the license and the company was put to rest...

A Ghostbusters manga followed at TOKYOPOP, a couple years later.

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Aaylas!

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