The eighth installment of “Mass Hysteria” also happens to be the final issue of this series as writer Erik Burnham, artist Dan Schoening, colorist Luis Antonio Delgado and letterer Neil Uyetake conclude their run with “Ghostbusters” #20. As the Ghostbusters franchise hits its thirtieth anniversary, this creative team provides a story in line with the upbeat, fun-filled adventures set forth in the first film.
In the thirty years of the brand, Ghostbusters has been incarnated many times in comic books and with many teams working on it creatively, but now writer and artist has found the spirit and lovingly blended the various cross-media versions of the Ghostbusters together as wonderfully as Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening. “Ghostbusters” #20 celebrates the franchise and gives readers a satisfactory “For now. . .” ending without rushing through an overabundance of loose, dangling plotlines or character gaps. Burnham and Schoening even follow the lead of many film productions by giving readers “What Happened Next!” with all of the dramatis personae from this series, which is a smart, sassy blend of characters from the films (Dana Barrett and Louis Tully, Sigourney Weaver’s and Rick Moranis’ characters from the first film; the cartoon Janine Melnitz and Slimer) and characters of their own creation (Ron Alexander and Melanie Ortiz).
Schoening is the shining star of this series and this issue, as he once again fills the pages with characters that bear the essence of their bigscreen counterparts, albeit in significantly more animated and caricature-based form. His Venkman doesn’t look like Bill Murray per se, but it feels like Murray. Such is the case across the board. Schoening doesn’t stop with the Ghostbusters, however, as he makes the world around the team almost tangibly real through significant use of detail, and collaboration with his colorist. Delgado and Schoening concoct some frighteningly stunning and stunningly frightening images, complete with eerie, sickening halo glows as the Ghostbusters must fight to keep control of various the spirits in their custody, a common occurrence that is made exceptional in this issue with dazzling reds (blood red moon, blood rain, traffic lights and escaped ghosts), sparkling yellows and chilling blues.
As completely as Schoening and Delgado blend together, Burnham’s work also blends in. After all, he puts Venkman, Egon, Ray and Winston in the positions that coax their personalities out of Schoening’s drawings. Burnham raised the stakes with this storyline, taking a peek into the afterlife and sending Winston Zeddemore there with Tiamat snapping at his heels. The writer demonstrates a snappy ability to write these characters — good and evil — throughout the book, as evidenced in the heartbreak Zeddemore experiences at Tiamat’s hands and the camaraderie the Ghostbusters share in the face of adversity. Uyetake’s lettering is masterful throughout, from the hollow echo of Tiamat’s dialog to the snappy “CLICK” of the Ghostbusters opening a trap that also opens the potential for future adventures.
“Ghostbusters” #20 is, simply, another sequel to the original Ghostbusters movie. As with all successful sequels, though, this one lures readers into wanting more and leaves the door open for future visits. I’m not sure where the “Ghostbusters” franchise is set to go or change into at IDW beyond this series and a crossover with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” but true fans of the Ghostbusters brand will have this series to return to. It is only fitting that Burnham, Schoening, Delgado and Uyetake furnish readers with an issue that is as much a new beginning as it is an ending, and a satisfying one at that.