You know, when you spell out the plot synopsis for 1984's Ghostbusters, it's kind of remarkably dopey. Yes, the movie is a comedy, but it is pretty well grounded for the most part, unless you actually pay attention to the plot. Spoilers ahead, I guess. A group of small business owners threaten all existence and kill a giant, demon-possessed marshmallow person. After going against the explicit warning not to cross the streams of their ghost-stunning particle wands, the Ghostbusters vanquish the villain of the flick. Long story made short: the good guys win. Ghostbusters: Deviations takes place in the alternate aftermath of the first Ghostbusters motion picture. The comic proposes a world where the ghoul-trapping quartet did not misuse the proton packs on their backs. For of heroes, the sinister Sumerian shape-shifter Gozer turns out to be too hot to handle without resorting to drastic measures. So the bad guy wins. Now Gozer, the first movie's master of evil, is just wandering the Earth, unable to leave his tottering, fluffy corporeal confection container. Failing to save the day the first time around, our heroes are going to have to take control of the situation they created.
So... why don't the Ghostbusters cross the streams now? After the danger has grown beyond their ability to manage, what's stopping them? Did they just never think to do it in this splinter universe? Are they too afraid of the consequences? It always struck me as a needless risk in the movie. And I think there could be a decent conversation on the subject. Deviations addresses this. But only in passing. This comic is only interested in a handful of jokes facilitated by the alternate universe.
Ghostbusters: Deviations leans hard on the comedy. It's very wacky. So much so that a lot of Ghostbusters fans are likely going to be turned off by some of the book's content. And, though poop is the center of a mildly funny gag, quite a bit of the dialog has decent wit as well. Venkman gets the best of writer Kelly Thompson's dialog. But that's to be expected. Bill Murray's portrayal of the character exemplified snark for a generation of audience members. Lorenzo Music, from the first animated series, carried that baton for the rest of us. Many writers are probably unconsciously channeling either performance when writing brilliant lay-about scoundrels in any piece of fiction.
This comic presents the appearance of being about dealing with consequences. However, the book is so light on content, it never explores its concept to my satisfaction. Much of the writing feels like a mad dash from one joke to the next. And those comedy pathways aren’t terribly well-built. Of particular note -- and I admit this is a nitpick -- a character uses the term "asshat" which I doubt was in popular usage in 1984. Maybe that's one of the alternate timeline's changes. Who knows? The book sure doesn't care enough to show us much of this changed universe. The phrase is just there to be humorous sounding, regardless of appropriateness.
Sad to say, this book is really bland. No one gets to stand out. Although everyone gets a moment in the dim spotlight. I can't muster a lot of excitement for the proceedings because the plot is extremely uneventful. No suspense. No horror. Plenty of tepid humor. Kelly Thompson's writing strips Gozer of nearly all his menace. And whether or not that chafes you will depend on how much silliness you want in your horror/comedy mix. As a petulant foil, Gozer is a little funny. And, if given enough room outside of a one-shot, his character could be quite charming in his disdain for his time on Earth. But, overall Ghostbusters: Deviations is weak and not as interested in the alternate reality concept as I think it should be.
Ghostbusters: Deviations Writer: Kelly Thompson Artist: Nelson Daniel Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $4.99 Release Date: 3/16/16 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital