Publishing finally catches up with the crossover that’s been happening in toy boxes since the 1980s in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters” #1. It’s a good place-setting issue that gets everything in order for the chaos that is sure to come in the remaining issues of the miniseries. We don’t get the payoff of the title until the final panel, which makes the rest of the issue feel a little slow, but there’s enough character moments to enjoy during that journey that won’t leave the reader feeling put out.
Centuries ago, an ancient evil was trapped in between dimensions when Krang, using his dimensional portal, visited feudal Japan to further his own machinations. As one is wont to do in limbo the evil man became a powerful demon ghost. Meanwhile, in modern New York, the turtles and their friends are putting the finishing touches on their own matter transporter that goes awry and accidentally shifts them across dimensions to the New York of Drs. Stantz, Venkman, Spangler and Winston Zeddmore. They check on a report of a massive spike in paranormal activity at a wedding where our ancient evil has been freed by the turtles’ breach of dimensional protocol. Fortunately, even though a ghost shows up no one in the wedding party says “I boo.”
This is an enjoyable take on both franchises as everyone’s personalities and voices are given an opportunity to come front and center via Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz’s script. There are a lot of characters to juggle in this book – we have two pages of cast intro head shots before the story even begins. That’s no small feat to be this economic and still let the reader get to know the people involved in the story. The balance of comedy and drama works for both dimensions. The only place it really suffers as far as characters is our villain – we know so little about him that other than being told he’s a major threat and seeing one act of villainy we don’t really know what he’s about. It’s also a bummer to not have the confrontation until the end of the issue, which means that the reader only gets to read about what it took to put all these characters in the same room, which boils down to reading an illustrated pitch. Given the handling of the characters here though I am willing to bet the next issue hits the ground running and provides the action everyone is looking for in this tale.
The art is split between three teams to showcase the three different settings in which the story takes place. Charles Paul Wilson III provides dark, moody art filled with heavy lines and shadow that give a rougher feel to the proceedings than the rest of the book. Much like ancient drawings it feels carved out of wood or scrawled on parchment. Cory Smith takes over while we are in the turtles’ dimension, and though he has little action to draw his characters are well blocked and well-drawn. His is a more superhero look with crosshatching and angled, animated faces. The turtles’ eyes are very expressive in these pages which is a nice change of pace from the standard pupil-less look they are given so often. Dan Schoening brings it home in the Ghostbusters’ dimension with a very stylized version of everyone. his action is great and because so much of the action happens in his pages his panel layouts are more distinctive than the previous pages. Luis Antonio Delgado and Ronda Pattinson do a fantastic job of coloring the whole shebang, creating real menace and otherworldly feels to the ghosts and dimensional jumps that take place. The introduction to the Ghostbusters is especially well produced.
This crossover isn’t necessary, but it’s fun. The creators’ energy feels like it’s jumping off the page and once everyone starts butting heads it will be fun to see how these characters play off of one another. Donatello/Egon, Michaelangelo/Peter, Leonardo/Ray, and Raphael/Winston are the pairings I’m particularly interested in seeing. Issue one gets everything set up that it needs to so that everyone can sit back and watch the ectoplasm fly.