TMNT / Ghostbusters 2 (#1 – 5) – Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz

3 out of 5

A fantastically “don’t worry about it” start and setup, harkening back to the hilarious dimension-hopping antics of Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything (…ignoring the unhilarious, planet-hopping Dimension X mini), the second Turtles / Ghostbusters crossover caught me off guard by actually – initially, at least – being a fun and smart page-turner, especially given that the underwhelming first crossover gave me zippo desire to read a followup.

The GBs ghost baddies, The Collectors, are hired by Splinter’s baddie, Darius Dun – whom I frankly don’t remember, going to show how much weight some Turtles storylines don’t carry with me, and who is now, conveniently for this crossover, a ghost – to something something ultimate torture of Splinter by kidnapping his sons.  …And imprisoning them in the Collector’s prison dimension!  And Donatello somehow pops into the Ghostbusters’ world and asks for help!  And the solution is to send the ghosts on wild goose chases – shunting one turtle and one ghostbuster each – to other dimensions (allowing a different artist to step in for each), while Donatello amd Egon science up a solution.  Also, there’s some gobbledy-gook about disguising brainwaves that seems irrelevant given that everyone splits from the prison to elsewheres ASAP.

But oh well?  Because, as mentimed, putting the pieces in place is fast and furious just to get us to where our multi-artist antics can take off, and there’s a whole cheeky vibe to it – Burnham’s (assuming) Ghostbusters dialogue has a great sense of pitter patter pacing – that sets us in the right mood for being taken for a ride.  Furthermore, in anti-crossover fashion, our creatives actually seem concerned with moving narratives in their individual series along, so the events here don’t feel wholly isolated: there are entrenched references to recent matters (as in not passing, easily dismissed references) and the paired off duos each have notably mature conversations about death, or family.

And then I began to get worried, about issue three.  Instead of dimension hopping, each story pauses in one locale, and it’s a hard pause.  Since the goal here was to be on the run, there’s no quest to achieve in any dimension beyond that, so the roadblocks tossed in each’s way feel particularly forced.  Those mature conversations also take puzzling turns: Don and Egon imply they’re going to dig into some uneasy stuff, but apparently what I intuited as implication was just surface level dialogue.  Raph says conflicting things about growing up alone that feels like a betrayal to the Turtles’ spirit and story, and apparently Leo has no function, because they sort of forget to include him in most of this.  The art on his section (Tadd Galusha) is great, though.

Rounding into the fourth issue, this stuff just gets more problematic.  The excitement of the setup has almost completely dwindled behind unmoving plot threads, each of which are resolved rather blase-ly  – like, it’s just time to go, never you mind about making any of this feel like it was anything beyond stalling – leading to a cliffhanger that the fifth issue proves to be completely pointless.  But there’s more pointlessness to come, with bad guy pontification for pages, and then a final fight that takes all of, like, half a panel and zero logic.  The End slams down so fast thereafter, you suspect our creators knew that were out of gas, for which I’m thankful.

Back on the positives: The book, visually, is solid, and occasionally great.  C.P. Wilson’s Turtles have his trademark storybook look to them, and even if I’m not sure he was the right choice for his particular contribution, I really enjoyed his visual take.  And I’m not a big fan of Pablo Tunica’s old, grumpy lady turtles, I dig the stylization, in general, and his pages are undeniably alive.  The main artist (and Ghostbusters artist, I believe), Dan Schoening, has a great sense of character that carries the downtime in the book a lot further than lesser artists could have.  His action sequences don’t always “move,” but he’s tossed a lot of dialogue scenes, so it’s not a bad balance.  Mark Torres has sort of a more open style than the others, but like Wilson, I really appreciated his turtles take, and his action-heavy sequence had some quality choreography.  I mentioned Tadd Galusha above: he’s a freakin’ superstar.  There’s a bit of Goran Parlov in his characters, a bit of Mahnke in his detailing.  I can’t wait to look into this dude’s other stuff.

And then let’s flash back to where I started: that the book kicks off well, and mostly maintains that spirit through at least its halfway point.  The descent into disappointment – I really don’t need a third series of this – thankfully butts up against the final page before the rating can drop below a three.