Deadshirt is Reading: Ghostbusters International and Venom: Space Knight!

Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. 

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Max Robinson is reading…

Ghostbusters International #1

Written by Erik Burnham

Art by Dan Schoening

Colors by Luis Antonio Delgado

Lettered by Neil Uyetake

IDW

“Background checks, mysterious clients – I love it when we get to feel like the A-Team.”

Batman did it. Spider-Man’s doing it right now. So I suppose it was only inevitable that the Ghostbusters would start a worldwide franchise. Granted, Ghosthunters International Ghostbusters International doesn’t exactly give us our heroes chasing pesky poltergeists in Japan or South America just yet, but there’s a lot to dig in this initial issue.

If you aren’t current or even familiar with Burnham and Schoening’s years-deep Ghostbusters run over at IDW, this issue’s a pretty solid jumping-on point. In a nutshell: the Ghostbusters (including Ray, Egon, Winston, Peter and Janine, plus new faces like goth scientist Kylie and municipal liaison Jenny) are recovering from yet another inter-dimensional incursion that wrecked their iconic firehouse headquarters just as some new foreboding weirdness manifests itself. Monosyllabic spectres haunting the UN headquarters! A ghost who can inexplicably spit acid! An ominous tarot reading!  Amidst all this, the Ghostbusters receive an offer from rich Scandinavian businessman Erland Vinter they may not be able to refuse.

The strengths of this creative team are definitely on display in this issue. Burnham’s Ghostbusters scripts tend to capture existing character voices very well, especially details like Ray’s inherent sweetness or Peter bickering with a UN official. Similarly, Schoening’s heavily stylized caricatures of Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, etc. give a great deal of life to the characters that is often missing from comics about movie characters.

While the rapid fire wit of the film doesn’t quite translate, there’s clearly a deep affection/understanding of the characters going on. Little details like the female coed Venkman hits on in the original Ghostbusters reappearing as a full character with some implied history is both a fun deep cut reference for die hard fans and also a nice indicator that Burnham and Schoening aren’t interested in keeping things totally static. Long story short, get on board with this if you like Ghostbusters and want to read a pretty solid Ghostbusters comic. Last note: How cool are the Art Deco tourism ad covers for this book?

Joe Stando is reading…

Venom: Space Knight #3

Written by Robbie Thompson

Art by Ariel Olivetti

Lettered by Joe Caramagna

Marvel

“Ah, there’s the male stupidity I know.”

Venom: Space Knight is a good comic with a very specific and subjective snag. Overall, I love it. Olivetti’s artwork is among the most gorgeous on the stands today, and the prog rock, Franzetta-looking designs are both suitably alien and pleasantly familiar. It’s a fun story that’s homaged everything from James Bond to Conan the Barbarian so far, with a lot of great humor and worldbuilding. The one problem, and I’m not even sure if I’d use the word ‘problem,’ is that it doesn’t at all feel like a Venom story.

The development of Venom from a slavering monster into a righteous space superhero has been gradual, and none of it has jumped out specifically as out of character. The Agent Venom era, when the symbiote was first paired with Flash Thompson by the U.S. government, was a breath of fresh air for a character who was in a rut. Thompson and the symbiote’s uneasy alliance growing into a genuine bond and trust was a powerful arc, and Bendis’s retcon about the nature of the symbiotes provided it with some redemption. Still, though, I can’t help but feel like something’s been lost. The appeal of Venom is that he’s “scary Spider-Man,” with the teeth and the tongue and everything. Pulling out that core conflict to remain in control has removed a lot of what made the character so interesting in the first place.

It’s not the end of the world. On the contrary, I loved most of the beats this week, with Flash in a space suit chopping the heads off lava men and kissing a pretty Medusa alien. But it was the best example yet that these are stories you could be telling with Quasar or Winter Soldier or America Chavez or someone else. It’s alright, since there’s a Carnage book right now and a deranged monster Venom over in Contest of Champions, if you need your monster symbiote fix. But I’d like a little more of the old tension and interplay between man and suit back. Hopefully the last page, where the symbiote speaks on its own for the first time in the series, points to a bit more of that old magic.

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

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