With slight modifications for genre, the sentiments legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy once applied to the band Survivor applies with as much truth to Tom Waltz and Erik Burnham’s 2014 IDW miniseries masterpiece Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters – “I’ve often said that the [comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters] is the best that ever was. In my opinion, they put [classic literature] to bed. Everyone else is an imitator. That’s right, you heard me [Shakespeare], [Rumi], [J.K. Rowling], [John Grisham], you guys suck…dong.” But to be as honest as possible, I must take my praise a step further, slightly modifying Ron Burgundy once again, “This [comic book] is quite simply the greatest composition in human history. If you disagree, I will fight you.”
It’s the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES meeting and teaming up with the GHOSTBUSTERS!!! Do you understand how amazing this is??? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!!! The Ghostbusters!!! They are TOGETHER for the WHOLE MINISERIES!!! Two of the GREATEST TEAMS in the history of humanity have come together to bust ghosts and rescue possessed individuals. The Turtles!!! The Ghostbusters!!! It’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teaming up with the Ghostbusters!!! To put this another way that may make the EPIC AWESOMENESS more clear, it’s the Ghostbusters teaming up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!!!! What are you even still doing reading this?!? This is something that has ACTUALLY HAPPENED and you can BUY IT, OWN IT, and READ IT FOREVER. You should be doing that!!!
Okay, is anyone still reading this post? Wow, good for you! Thank you; I’m flattered. Your will power/restraint is admirable. Since you’ve stuck around (proving you’re perhaps definitely a bit waaaaay more mellow than I am) let’s talk about why I love this comic so much. As a child of the 80s and an adolescent of the 90s, the Ghostbusters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles formed a major part of my childhood. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of amazing memories I have revolving around watching these characters, pretending to be these characters, and playing with their toys. They are all very near and dear to my heart. So for me, this meeting is epic.
Given how much I love these characters, it’s been the most amazing of blessings to find both the Ghostbusters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles not just alive but thriving in their respective IDW series. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know I love Tom Waltz’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Erik Burnham’s Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters International. (If not, you’re welcome to click here, here, here, or here for a recap.) But Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters is extra special to me. It combines two teams I’ve adored since childhood. It brings together authors and illustrators that I have incredible admiration for, presenting these characters at a creative peak. And it was also my very first introduction to IDW’s versions of Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Winston, Ray, Egon, and Peter.
The story begins as the immortal Kitsune’s brother, Cho-You, interferes during her meeting with General Krang in Japan during the Muromachi Period. During the battle, Cho-You is tossed into Krang’s portal. Krang assures Kitsune that Cho-You cannot return as he was either destroyed at worst or, at best, lost in limbo between dimensions. Then, in 2014, April, Casey, and the Turtles are testing the teleportation device Donatello, Harold, and April built. While trying to swat an annoying fly (classic!), Harold accidentally hits the wrong switch and shifts the Turtles, April, and Casey from being teleported to their lair to the Ghostbusters dimension instead. I really love this twist, two different dimensions, which explains why they’ve never run into each other before. It’s a great angle.
Further underscoring how brilliant IDW is with this inter-series/inter-dimensional thing, Cory Smith handles drawing everything in the Turtles’ dimension (as he’s one of the regular artists on their book) and Dan Schoening then naturally draws everything that occurs in the Ghostbusters’ dimension. The artists themselves give each dimension its own unique and natural feel! When we’re with the Turtles, in their dimension, they look just like they do in their book. When we’re with the Ghostbusters, in their dimension, everything looks as it does in their book. How great of an idea is that?!? I don’t know who came up with it but it’s a subtle touch that creates a very cool vibe through the comics, while also being a fun nod to each individual series.
The Turtles arrival in the Ghostbusters’ dimension has the unexpected consequence of freeing Chi-You, who then slips into the Ghostbusters’ dimension too. He possess Casey (as well as a bunch of other New Yorkers) and begins to build an army with which to conquer the world. The Ghostbusters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then team up – in the SINGLE GREATEST MOMENT IN LITERATURE – in an attempt to capture Chi-You, save Casey and the others, and try to find a way for the Turtles to safely return home.
I don’t want to say anything else about the plot because I don’t want any spoilers here. There’s nothing I can say that will be anywhere near as exciting as what you’ll find when these two teams actually team up, so I’m not going to offer a watered down retelling. Trust me, Tom Waltz and Erik Burnham have this thing PERFECT. You don’t need my summary. You don’t want my summary. It’s just too much fun seeing it unfold on its own. I don’t want to ruin that for you! As must be pretty obvious by now, I think everyone should read this. So, setting aside spoilers and a more in-depth analysis of the plot, I’d rather talk about something else – seeing myself in the Turtles and the Ghostbusters.
Now, I’m not actually talking about being on the teams myself (although, if I’m being honest, ghostbusting might be my dream job – as long as it was real ghostbusting with a proton pack and not silly infrared camera, reality show “ghost hunting”). Rather, I’m talking about seeing reflections of myself in the characters. It turns out, according to this series, my Ghostbusters spirit animal matches my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle one. Yay!
As the two teams get to know each other, Leonardo and Winston hit it off immediately (which is crazy neat since they were both David’s favorites growing up). Michelangelo and Ray pall around. Donatello and Egon bond over their mutual love of science. And Peter and Raphael connect as well. Yes, it was most likely a mutual love of snark that brought them together but here’s where it gets interesting for me.
As a kid, Egon was always my favorite Ghostbuster. I had his toys and I’d always pretend to be him when we’d be the Ghostbusters. I loved, loved, loved how he was so brilliant and could always think their way out of any predicament they were in. What could be cooler than that?!? Egon was my guy. However, in a lengthy discussion with my friend Hannah, where we were placing ourselves and a few other friends into Ghostbusters roles, she argued in an impressively detailed and convincing manner that it was really Peter Venkman who I connected with deep in my heart of hearts.
Of our group of friends, it would be hard to argue that I’m not the most “like a game show host.” I’ve also always been a natural (if at times unintentional) flirt. By nature I’m a very outgoing and extroverted guy, so that can be taken as being flirtatious (even if that’s not always my intent). While I’m good at flirting, I’ll argue (and hope!) I’m not as hormonally-driven as Peter. I can be professional or mature but I’m quick to joke around, even in serious situations. And I’ve always been a talker. NO ONE who knows me will argue that point. Speaking of their characters, Harold Ramis once said, “My character, Spengler, is the brains because I tend to be rationalistic. Danny’s character, Stantz, is the heart because he tends to be enthusiastic and sincere, and Bill’s character, Venkman, is the mouth because he can really talk. Together, we add up to a whole person.” Soooo as much as Egon was always my hero, I can see the Venkman connection. And, at the end of the day, despite the sarcastic and smooth-talking exterior, Peter has a great heart and will always show up to do the right thing (if begrudgingly at times). So I’m happy to own Hannah’s accurate yet unexpected observation.
If there was any doubt in my mind, it was erased in Ghostbusters International #5 when Peter, Ray, and Winston are chasing down a pesky ghost outside of the Lourve. As they run outside to catch the big, mean one Ray proclaims, “There he is! I can see him!” Peter replies, “*Huff* Did we have to run this whole way?” And Winston counters, “It’s like half a mile man. Suck it up.” I would say this exact same thing. I’m sure I have said this exact same thing in similar circumstances (minus the ghost of course). This was just further proof that, while Egon’s always been my favorite, Pete IS my true spirit animal.
When it comes to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Raphael has always been my favorite. I loved him as a kid and I can identify with him now, albeit for very different reasons. As a kid, my favorite color was red. Raphael had a red mask. So Raphael was my favorite. I’ll pause for a moment so everyone can marvel at the intricacies of my thought process. (I don’t know what I’d’ve done if I met the Mirage Turtles before the cartoon Turtles and found them ALL to be wearing red masks…) While my soul-to-soul connection with Peter was unexpected yet accurate, my soul-to-soul connection with Raphael falls into the I-wish-it-wasn’t-true-but-let’s-hope-I-learn-from-it category. While Raphael was “cool but rude” in the 80s cartoon, he tends to have far more full-blown anger issues in the comics, films, and contemporary cartoons. Raph has a short fuse. And when it burns out, he blows up. I wish I didn’t understand that as well as I do.
My anger is an odd contradiction in my life. I’m, by nature, a pretty relaxed guy. I pray and meditate regularly. I’m pretty happy most of the time. I try to be as peaceful and in-the-moment as possible. There is so much beauty in life, what good does it do to worry? And I KNOW that anger does nothing to hurt or affect whatever it’s directed at – it only pollutes the soul of the one who’s angry. I’m also happy to say I’ve got a pretty long fuse…but I have to admit when it goes it goes. For example, I don’t handle technology problems well and I’ve been known to throw a cord or remote or two across the room in my time. I’m also not good with stubbing my toe or knocking my knees or things of that nature. Once my anger fire flares, there tends to be a steady stream of (what I’d like to consider at least creatively assembled) expletives and a very real desire to punch/break/destroy whatever inanimate object is vexing me (even though I can never get that release as I’m not the kind of guy who could actually do that). Thankfully, it’s often a relatively short burst…but the fire is HOT while it’s burning. And my guy Raph understands that.
In Tom Waltz’ IDW series especially, Raphael is aware of his anger but is also seeking to control it…even if he doesn’t know how. He’s constantly getting worked up or flying off the handle but he’s also apologizing for it, practicing tai-chi, meditating, and trying to figure out how to first control and (maybe/hopefully) eventually tame the beast that is his anger. I can get behind that too. So now I don’t just love Raphael because he wears the red mask (although that’s still close to my heart) but I love him because he sees the things in himself he’s less than proud of and is working to become a better person, even if he often falters. I also secretly think I’d be great with sais.
So, not only do I LOVE both the Ghostbusters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but they’ve come to teach me a little something about myself too. As I’ve grown with these characters, they’ve continued to give me more and more (especially in the hands of their all-too-talented caretakers at IDW). My love of these characters has never lessened over the past thirty years, rather it’s just gained new dimensions. That’s a pretty fantastic gift, all on its own. And if that wasn’t enough, IDW brought them TOGETHER in an incredible miniseries. My mind can barely contain the awesomeness. My one major complaints are that this was only four issues and not twelve and that it has yet to spawn a sequel (although c’mon IDW, it would be SO GREAT). So a thank you is owed to Tom Waltz and Erik Burnham for this magical mystery tour of perfection. (And maybe thanks in advance for an eventual sequel??)
I’d also like to thank you for being able to get past the excited rambling at the start of this post and actually reading through to the end. I also did a fair amount of introspection and reflection here so I appreciate your sharing that with me too. But now the post’s over so you can totally head to Amazon or Comixology or (the BEST option!!) your local book and/or comic store and pick this thing up for yourself. Hey! Maybe you can find your Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle soul connection too! If you figure it out, be sure to let me know. I’d be excited to hear about it! I wish you luck in your search. And have fun!