Review by: Dillon Beck
Title: Ghostbusters #14: Mass Hysteria Part 2
Artist: Dan Schoening
Release Date: Wednesday, March 26th 2014
Sub-Genre: Science Fiction
Synopsis: After battling baddies to the next dimension and back the Ghostbusters are faced with what may be one of their biggest challenges yet. Tiamat, Sumerian goddess of chaos and sister of Gozer, has been made aware of the Ghostbusters after they rattled all of time and space with a proton explosion. Now she’s en route to Earth, (more specifically New York), and she’s making her presence known. Radical weather patterns, faulty gravity and plenty of other supernatural signs indicate that she may already be upon us.
Our thoughts: I went into this book a first-time reader/frequent skimmer with little-to-no expectations, simply due to a lack of familiarity with the series. I do however enjoy the movies, (rest in peace Harold Ramis) and was eager see some familiar characters. Despite any skepticism I was engrossed by the artwork, and the utter realness of the people and situations, the latter not necessarily being something you’d expect from a Ghostbusters story.
The artwork stood out to me immediately and in a big way. The people are drawn in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Archie comics, with wacky hair-cuts and exaggerated, disproportioned facial features. This serves immensely to both soften and compliment the book’s serious, often dark content (i.e. haunting, possession, and even raining blood, no not the Slayer song). The cartoonish look and feel carries our spirits through somber scenes like Dana’s private consultation where Schoening’s art shows us her fear, denial and eventual relief through facial expression alone. The panels themselves play a key role in the readability as well. They are framed and sequenced to pan out more like a movie than a comic book. This is perhaps most noticeable in the sequence surrounding the worm’s eye view we get of Ray and Peter looking up, flummoxed, at a sky full of floating cars. These factors unite to make an aesthetically pleasing comic with a style all its own. I had heard great things about Dan Schoening but wow! He really brings these characters to life with an unexpected whimsy and even less expected gravity.
The dynamic between characters in the book is surprisingly real. Candid displays and delicately crafted dialogue paint a universal picture of the human mind’s more fragile side and shows us that our characters are far too real to be flawless. We feel for these characters when they are scared and we can hear the ennui in their speech, making for a surprisingly sincere reader experience. By no means is it a bleak or sad experience, it’s actually a pretty funny book. Ray and Peter often serve as the superlatively placed comic reliefs. Their smart-assed remarks play to make light of their situation even as space-time deteriorates around them.
As a patron of literature I was beaming at the flawless storytelling here in Ghostbusters #14. I would like to have seen more spectral smack-downs in this issue but in consolation I got to watch characters develop and the plot thicken. It’s hard to find a comic book with so much luster and emotion. Needless to say, I’ll be hunting down back issues this weekend. The duo of Burnham and Shoening has endless chemistry, and in my opinion they’ve created some insanely real characters and a uniquely entertaining Ghostbusters universe for readers old and new. This book also serves to exemplify exactly what it is that makes science fiction cool, explaining the unexplained (or at least trying to). My one regret is that I didn’t jump into this title sooner. I hail it with 8 out of 10.