TMNT/Ghostbusters II #1 review: The haunting return of Darius Dun

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Ghostbusters unite once again! Yet will the union between Darius Dun and the Collectors be too much?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters II #1

Writers: Erik Burnham & Tom Waltz

Artist: Dan Schoening

Colorist: Luis Antonio Delgado

There are two things which this new weekly series encapsulates. The first is a crossover between franchises. Secondly are sequels. IDW Publishing has ample experience with the former, whether between other companies or with licenses owned by their own. The Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters met once before, in a five issue mini-series from 2014. The tale was even canonical! Yet now the same creative team are back to produce a sequel, this time as a weekly series!

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In the previous adventure, both squads bumped into each other amid a crisis revolving around Pantheon member Chi-You. Rather than waste time having the heroes fight over a misunderstanding, the series instead got right to the meat. Our heroes got to interact and team up right off, and the series was incredibly fun as a result. For this sequel, the Turtles and Ghostbusters must unite to stop the alliance between Darius Dun and the Collectors!

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Not Quite a Typical Day in the Life of Ghost-Busting!

The day starts as usual for the Ghostbusters; some ghosts terrorizing local New Yorkers need busting! The blue beast who winds up being zapped is directly inspired from one of the action figures of the 1980s! The faith in decades worth of material doesn’t end there, as Ray Stanz is still using the “mood slime” which was mixed together in the finale of 1989’s Ghostbusters II! Yet another snippy New Yorker is saved from doom, as the Ghostbusters manage their workload.

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Both Winston Zeddemore and Peter Venkman are being run ragged with an increased number of calls. From experience, an uptick of ghosts tends to mean something big is afoot! This leads to another lecture by Ray about the existence of a potential “purgatory,” much to Peter’s chagrin. Their own recent travels between dimensions — where they met their counterparts from other realities, such as the “Answer the Call” ladies — may have weakened the barriers between planes.

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Hence, a series of ghosts in the aforementioned purgatory are watching the land of the living. It seems like purgatory exists in a state between dimensions as well. The newest specter among them is Darius Dun, murdered mobster from last year’s TMNT #64. Being dead hasn’t stopped Darius from wanting revenge or on delusions of conquest. Fellow ghost Bronson has shown Darius how to observe the land of the living, fueling his obsession with getting back at Splinter.

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The Collectors Are Worse Than Trekkies!

While the rest of the Ghostbusters have sought to keep up with the workload, Egon Spengler has stayed behind to work on their machinery. During another scientific discussion with Ray, another extra-dimensional being emerges in the fire station. Yet this time it’s no ghost, it’s their Ninja Turtle ally Donatello! While Egon is always pleased to run into a fellow intellectual, this is hardly a social call. Donatello carries with him a dangerous tale about the Ghostbusters’ old enemies!

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Much like the previous team-up, this one is canonical as well. Hence, this series evidently takes place after last week’s TMNT #75. The Turtles were fresh off of dealing with the “trial of Krang” and about to head home from Dimension X. They immediately found themselves encountering four ghostly beings who changed their guises to resemble them! Before they knew it, these beings have taken the rest of the Turtles prisoner, with only Donatello escaping to seek help.

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Unfortunately, Donatello hasn’t escaped for long! The ghostly doppelgangers have crossed dimensions to claim Donatello. Even worse, the Ghostbusters know exactly who they are! They’re demons called “the Collectors” who appear immune to the Ghostbusters’ precious proton-packs. While the Collectors had once been obsessed with the Ghostbusters, this time they’re after a different foursome! Egon calls a meeting with Winston, Peter, and Ray to discuss their options!

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Turns out Darius Dun Wasn’t Done!

Meanwhile, the Ninja Turtles have found themselves trapped in a limbo dimension. It seems like it resembles the limbo dimension as seen in a third season episode of their 1987 cartoon, “The Ninja Sword of Nowhere.” Isolated and out of their element, the Turtles quickly learn that Darius Dun is behind their imprisonment. Darius has vowed revenge on Splinter for murdering him and taking his turf, and sees abducting his sons as the perfect way to get even with the old mutant rat!

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Yet it’s not the end for the Ninja Turtles! The Ghostbusters manage to track them down with their own dimensional teleportation device. Unfortunately, sneaking them out of the gaze of the omnipresent Collectors isn’t easy. While Egon and Donatello work up a way to capture the Collectors once and for all, the other Turtles and Ghostbusters have to take a roundabout route home. This means visiting other dimensions, and facing no end of horrors in each one!

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Most sequels start in a fast and furious fashion, and this one is no exception. Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz are two writers who wear their love for the respective franchises they write on their sleeves. Yet neither are slaves to nostalgia, and always know how to input new ideas and dynamics to their work. As a result, TMNT/Ghostbusters II is full of fun shout-outs to previous material alongside an entertaining and fast-paced plot which once again reunites the heroes.

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Plenty of Easter Eggs Busting at the Seams!

I mentioned some of the shout-outs to old lore above, yet there are more for eagle eyed fans. The Collectors’ “Turtle forms” resemble the “Dark Turtles” from the 6th season of their 2003 era cartoon (the “Fast Forward” season). Parts of Egon’s lab resemble the Ghostbusters’ lair from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. Furthermore, both the Ghostbusters’ Nintendo game and the first TMNT arcade game are shown to exist in the fire-station and are referenced heavily.

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Having Darius Dun return to menace the Turtles again was a stroke of genius. Another villain from the “Fast Forward” season, he was used to great effect last year by Tom Waltz. Darius became a figure not too far removed from Marvel’s Kingpin. His murder by Splinter last year finalized the split between he and the Turtles over ideals, a status quo which exists to this day. I always felt losing Darius was a waste of potential, and so did he! Therefore it’s fitting to see him as a ghost.

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While the team-up gimmick is easily the highlight of this debut, the characters continue on their arcs. The Ghostbusters have unfinished business with the Collectors, who were once obsessed with “collecting” them. Talk about a fun way to twist how their fan-base collects all of their toys. Yet the Turtles are growing too. It is clear that Splinter murdering Darius Dun wore on even Leonardo, as he considered Darius’ anger to be justified. The 2nd issue will delve into this further.

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Utterly Brilliant Design Work Abounds!

The Ghostbusters are no strangers to dead criminals returning as powerful spirits. Ghostbusters II featured the Scoleri Brothers, after all. The previous team-up focused exclusively on a threat connected to the Turtles. This time around more care was put into delivering a villain from each of their respective series. Most of the crossover interaction is between Egon and Donatello, and it is pretty cool. Egon states in no uncertain terms that he respects and values Donnie’s intelligence.

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The art by Dan Schoening and colors by Luis Antonio Delgado match the fast paced script perfectly. I especially like how Schoening isn’t caught up in trying to match the Ghostbusters’ designs too much to their real life actors. Instead he’s come up with designs which resemble them, yet have plenty of illustrative life and emotion to them. Under Dan’s pencils, the Ghostbusters’ design resemble a cross between their film looks with their animated TV series’ models.

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Delgado’s colors are especially vital for the ghosts, the proton-packs and the dimensional scenes. Darius Dun has rarely looked better, complete with his mortal wounds showing in his ghost-form. Schoening’s depiction of the Turtles takes a little getting used to considering how large he makes their shells look. Yet that isn’t as much as a concern since they, like the Ghostbusters, are very expressive under his style. From cover to cover it is a very visually satisfying comic book!

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Two Rival Franchises Now Meet as One!

Both of these franchises ran neck and neck with each other in the 1980s. The first Ghostbusters film debuted the same year that TMNT #1 was first published by Mirage Studios. On TV, The Real Ghostbusters cartoon debuted a year before Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ initial holiday season. Yet by 1990-1991, the Ghostbusters had run their course while the Ninja Turtles, both on CBS and via a second feature film, had hit their apex. Hence, it is fitting to see them unite in comic books!

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IDW Publishing has had a lot of success with both Ghostbusters and TMNT, both commercially and critically. Therefore, it’s terrific that they’ve sought to reunite the franchises in a story which aims to improve upon their first alliance. TMNT: Dimension X showcased how terrific a weekly dose of Turtle-Power could be, and now the Ecto-1 is joining in the adventure! Judging from the quality of this first issue, there seems like zero chance of the green machine crossing the streams this time!