Sunday, December 3, 2017

TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #2



Publication date: November 8, 2017

Written by: Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz
Art by: Dan Schoening (pgs. 1-5, 18-20), Mark Torres (pgs. 6-9), Pablo Tunica (pgs. 10-13), Tadd Galusha (pgs. 14-17)
Colors by: Luis Antonio Delgado
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Edits by: Bobby Curnow
Published by: Ted Adams

Summary:

Ray and Raphael, Peter and Michelangelo, and Winston and Leonardo are busy rapidly hopping through dimensions to keep the Collectors from getting a bead on them (including brief layovers in the Fred Wolf TMNT dimension and the Nickelodeon TMNT dimension).


Meanwhile, Egon and Donatello continue working on a means to capture the Collectors.  Having lost his notes from when he and Donatello first built the teleporter, Egon needs Donnie's help in retrograding their upgraded dimensional portal back into a one-way trip machine.  The plan is to create a portal that will lead directly into the Containment Unit, but without letting any incarcerated ghosts out, so that they can force the Collectors into captivity.  The bigger issue is how they will hold the Collectors and force them through the Trap Portal.  Donnie has an idea about that.


Ray and Raph arrive in a snowy forest dimension and are immediately attacked by spectral birds.  The act of messing with dimensional integrity apparently riles up and attracts supernatural entities, hence why they seem to be attacked by ghosts and monsters wherever they go.  A lumbering spirit then takes Ray hostage and Raph puts on his proton pack to try and save him.


Peter and Mikey arrive in a dimension populated by anthropomorphic animals.  Peter lends Mikey his jumpsuit so the Turtle won't be naked and the two decide to go exploring.  After bumping into an anthropomorphic rat, Mikey breaks down and tells Peter all about the falling out he had with his father, Splinter.  Using his psychology skills, Peter tells Mikey that he's still a kid and has set his father up on a pedestal.  However, Splinter is still just a human being (more or less) and prone to making mistakes, large and small.  Mikey starts to feel better, but the two are then interrupted by that dimension's incarnation of the Ghostbusters: Four anthropomorphic Turtles.  The Turtle-Ghostbusters, mistaking Peter for a demon, try to blast him.


Winston and Leo arrive in a post-Apocalyptic city and are immediately attacked by killer robots.  Winston blows them away with his proton guns and the two duck for cover in an abandoned building.  Leo tells Winston that all of their problems are his fault, as he was Splinter's Chunin when his father ordered the assassination of Darius Dun; the event which ultimately resulted in the dilemma they're in, now.  Winston reassures Leo, telling him that he can't be responsible for everyone else's decisions and he can't survive with the weight of the world on his shoulders.  Winston then awkwardly transitions from military rhetoric to scientific jargon, leaving Leo to think he sounds like Donnie.


Back in the Firehouse, Donnie is putting the finishing touches on the Trap Portal when his helmet gives him a shock.  Donnie begins talking like Winston and Egon fears that the helmets they're using to exchange psychic readings is causing their consciousnesses to mingle.  Another shock and Donnie's consciousness momentarily expands.  He sees the Collectors and realizes he can use this flaw in the helmets to his advantage.  Janine then enters with the ninja weapons Donnie had rush ordered and Donnie lays out his plan.  They're going to merge the Ghostbusters' proton weapons with the martial arts weapons to take the fight back to the Collectors.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #1.  The story continues in TMNT/Ghostbusters #3.

*When Winston and Leonardo enter the dimension of the Fred Wolf TMNT, the ghost they encounter is the spirit of Lord Shibano, who appeared in the episode "Blast from the Past".

*Egon mentions the time he was killed, which happened in Ghostbusters International #7.  He was brought back to life, but his notes were destroyed in Ghostbusters International #11.

*Donatello mentions the time he participated in professional wrestling in Dimension X, which happened in TMNT: Dimension X #3.

*Donnie mentions the last time his body and soul were in two places at once.  He had his mind separated from his body and placed in Metalhead in TMNT (IDW) #45.

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Cover A by Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado, Cover B by Pablo Tunica, and Cover RI by Donny Tran and Delgado.


Review:

The characters pair up and split up in this issue and the fun is seeing each Turtle and Ghostbuster work together to get through a problem.  With the introductions having been taken care of in the first crossover, this time around the characters are able to cooperate like old friends and I think it makes their interactions more entertaining.

Burnham and Waltz throw a bit of a curveball, too, in regards to the pairings.  Some of the characters get matched with their obvious counterparts, like Egon and Donnie (the eggheads) or Winston and Leo (the straightmen), but the rest get a bit of a shake-up.  The rebellious Peter gets paired with Mikey rather than the rebellious Raph, while the childish Ray gets paired with Raph rather than the childish Mikey.  It's a good mix and match that breaks the formula some rather than saddle everyone with their obvious soul mate.

One of the things I love about the Ghostbusters as characters is that each one was designed to represent a different aspect of the sciences.  For instance, Peter Venkman, with his Ph.D.s in psychology and parapsychology, represents the soft sciences.  It's why he's so good at manipulating people (mainly getting a rise out of them) and talking his way out of problems.

Egon Spengler represents the STEM fields, like engineering.  He designs all the equipment, thinks in complex mathematical formulas, and speaks in a scientific jargon that needs to be translated for the laymen in the audience.

Ray Stantz is somewhere between Peter and Egon (he assists Egon in designing the equipment and can translate his jargon for Peter's benefit), but I always saw him as representing the research sciences.  Whenever there's an urban legend to be recollected, an obscure scrap of folk lore to be cited, or a chapter and verse from Tobin's Spirit Guide to be referenced, he's the one to do it.  He did own that book store in the second movie, after all.

Winston is a little different; he represents practical application and real world experience.  He got his job with the Ghostbusters not because he was a super genius with multiple Ph.D.s, but because he replied to an ad in the newspaper.  In the original script, novelization, and most prominently in the IDW comics, he's a former Marine.  In the Real Ghostbusters, he was a former construction worker.  In all versions, he's a man of faith who goes to church and brings a spiritual perspective to each case.  But regardless of the universe, Winston comes from a blue collar background and his lifetime of experiences and hard-earned skills make him every bit as indispensable as the other Ghostbusters with their purely academic backgrounds.  And he's also proof that ANYONE can be a Ghostbuster, not just hyper-intellectuals, which made him my favorite character as a kid.

The reason I went off onto that tangent just now is because you can see a lot of those angles worked into the characterization of the Ghostbusters in the IDW comics, especially in this miniseries.  You can see it in Ray, as he rattles off a ton of techno mumbo jumbo to Raph, but with a legitimate enthusiasm that Egon often lacks.  Last issue, Winston was the one to suggest that the interdimensional limbo was the religious concept of Purgatory, and in this issue he uses his military training to try and rally a depressed Leonardo.  And the scene where Peter applies his psychology degree to help Mikey work through his parental abandonment issues was absolutely perfect.

It's easy to try and pigeon-hole each character as being something blander, like "the nerd", "the joker", "the optimist" and, uh, "the other guy", but so much more work went into developing these characters than just throwing darts at tropes.  It's why the Ghostbusters as a team are so well balanced and also why you can tell when a writer doesn't get what makes them tick (especially when you get a writer who doesn't know what to do with Winston; I hate that).  It's that sort of craftsmanship and forethought that separates the original Ghostbusters from the 2016 versions, who were exactly the sort of hollow tropes the original characters were designed to avoid being.

I know I'm talking more about the Ghostbusters in these reviews than I am the Turtles, but c'mon.  This is a TMNT website and I talk about the Green Machine all the fucking time.  Who knows when I'll get to ramble on about the Ghostbusters again?  Let me have this.

Anyway, this issue was defined more by the ways the characters interacted than the actual plot.  The scenarios exist to facilitate those interactions, so I won't say anything was particularly lacking.  The references to both series are a bit dense for new readers or for someone who follows one book and not the other.  For example, the Ghostbusters go on about how they used to be against protonic dispersal of ghosts due to the danger it represented (a major plot in IDW's Ghostbusters Vol. 1) but later figured out a means to make it temporary and less end-of-the-worldy (as seen in Ghostbusters 101).  If you haven't been reading the Ghostbusters book, then all of that just comes at you as words words words and you might not get the significance.  Likewise, Mikey rambles on about his reincarnation and Shredder's beheading and Splinter taking over the Foot Clan and readers who only follow the Ghostbusters book might find it all a bit suffocating.

But not me, because I read both!  Ha!


7 comments:

Adam Winters said...

I think you may have used the wrong cover image in this review. This series was really unique in mixing up the cover sequences across the variants. I had a hard time picking the ones I liked best. Ended up going with the Schoening covers for issues 1, 3, and 4 but the Cover Bs for issues 2 (especially beautiful) and 5.

Mark Pellegrini said...

@Adam

Whoops! Fixed the cover mixup; thanks!

Adam Winters said...

I greatly appreciate the analysis of the Ghostbusters in relation to the various scientific concentrations. Did you glean that yourself or read it from some other source?

Dermot Mac Flannchaidh said...

I did enjoy the interpersonal chemistry of this issue, and also realized this may be the first time in any TMNT continuity that one of the main characters actually spoke with a shrink about their problems. Most TMNT series' characters haven't had the benefit of seeing a therapist. I mean, yeah, many of them ''can't'', because they keep too many secrets they can never, ever talk about (even the Mirage V4 turtles living largely public lives still had to keep lots of secrets mainly to protect the Utroms), but sometimes you gotta think a lot of these characters might be more well-adjusted if they actually got more professional help for what has to be a fertile breeding ground for PTSD, daddy issues, learnt dysfunctional behavior and other kinds of cumulative mental illness.

Though, maybe that's also not so practical for ninja living by life or death to begin with, because it's literally part of their training to swallow and endure all kinds of pain and hardship and volunteer no vulnerabilities to the outside world. They're invisible all the time, and must solve all their own problems or they don't get solved.

But still, I thought it was really refreshing that one of them...spoke to a specialist, and we actually read a believable psychological analysis, however brief. What they actually covered doesn't quite compare to the depth of psychology explored in stuff like MNT Gaiden, but it's still really impressive for a licensed TMNT story (especially in the IDW era) to actually consequentially show how all this baggage wears on characters, can distract them, and even cause them to break down. It adds a certain special depth I feel like we don't see enough from IDW TMNT's main characters.

Anonymous said...

Good news Mark, the REAL Samhain is the villain in February's 2018 Annual.

Mark Pellegrini said...

@Anon

Well, now I'm psyched! Thanks for the heads up, anon! I hadn't heard about that.

Anonymous said...

The reason why the interactions with the Ghostbusters are important is because the Turtles have very few adults in their lives, even April and Casey are their contemporaries in this universe. Only Don regularly spends time with any older individuals other than Splinter (Harold and Fugitoid), and they haven't even had Splinter for the better part of the last year. Mikey REALLY needed an adult outsider to talk to, the fact that he was paired with a therapist just made it easier for him.