As any academic will tell you, gaining an understanding of any great work of literature requires a willingness to sit down and do the research so that you can unlock the subtle, nuanced mysteries that the author has presented. Fortunately, not all works are great–or even “literature,” really–and the bar for understanding is set low enough that even thinly-veiled mockery and outright scorn can pass for concerted study.
That’s where the ISB Research Department comes in.
Yes, it’s that time again, so please, grab your own copy and follow along as we delve into Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book One #4!
0.0: Among other things, this issue’s cover, seen here…
…promises a scene where Anita actually fights the supernatural, but considering that the sum total of “action” in the series thus far has consisted of
1. Anita sitting around at someone’s house refusing to do her job,
2. Anita standing around a crime scene telling detectives things they already knew,
3. Anita standing around Aunt May’s house, and
4. Anita standing around her apartment talking to the love child of Salvador Dali and Rob Liefeld
…I’m not holding out much hope that this will actually be the case.
1.1: And thus, my suspicions are borne out, as Anita starts this issue by charging headlong into the cutthroat world of getting someone to look things up on the Internet for her. Because really, nothing says “action” like microfiche.
1.3: Doing the actual looking up–which I think technically makes him the protagonist of this story–is new character Irving, who is described in a caption like so:
First of all, if Irving doesn’t look like a werewolf, then what exactly does a werewolf look like? I mean, I’m not an expert on the subject like Glenn Danzig or anything, but don’t werewolves just look like regular people up until they start turning into wolves? Isn’t that their entire function? Apparently not.
Second is the interesting fact that “lycanthropy can’t cure baldness,” which would mean that on the night of the full moon, Irving here is apparently cursed to become wolf with a bald spot, which is actually kind of awesome.
It’s unknown whether or not his particular strain of lycanthropy leads him to wear daisy dukes in his hybrid form, or if that’s just some crazy-talk from the last book. All documented. All true.
2.2: What starts here is yet another thrill-a-minute talky sequence with Anita pressing Irving for information on the ersatz Big Lebowski from the first issue, Harold Gaynor. Although honestly, I think it’d be a lot more interesting if they were discussing someone else:
One assumes that they’d be investigating his fraudulent behavior.
No one calls you that.
6.4: In attempt to reveal what I believe is an atrophied, vestigial personality, Anita attempts to banter with Irving:
Clearly, Anita’s either mistaken or has forgotten about New York City’s own Taimak.
8.3: If you’ve ever wondered what your humble annotator looks like when he’s writing these little chats of ours…
…that pretty much covers it.
10.2: Continuing the discussion of Harold Gaynor’s fetishes–which by my count has been going on for over nine thousand hours at this point–Irving introduces us to Wheelchair Wanda:
Really, Anita? Really? The prostitute in the wheelchair is “too weird?” You raise the dead for a living and (allegedly) hunt monsters on the side, and the wheelchair hooker is too far into crazytown for you? REALLY.
Regardless, long-time comics readers will no doubt realize that “Wheelchair Wanda” isn’t a prostitute at all, but rather the Matches Malone-esque identity that Barbara “Oracle” Gordon assumes when she wants to go undercover in the seedy underbelly of Gotham City. Still, though.
12.4: Prepare for trouble…
…and make it double!
Yes, it’s the return of Jean-Claude, the hapless member of Team Rocket that’s always after Anita’s Pikachu. Oh, no, wait, got my notes mixed up, he’s a vampire or something and he gave Anita some super-powers that, judging by the content of the series, give her preturnatural skill at standing around and a superhumanly wooden personality. But surely THIS is the turning point, right? I mean, he’s a vampire master who tried to enslave Anita to his will, and she–according to the cover, at least–is a vampire hunter, so this scene couldn’t possibly turn into seven pages of people standing around telling each other plot points, right?
19.6: Son of a bitch.
20.1: In this scene, Anita teams up with “a pair of exterminators” who are “licensed to carry flamethrowers.” In keeping with the theme of the book, they don’t ever actually do anything–again, despite the fact that they and their equipment are explicitly mentioned in the narration–but man, what the hell kind of exterminator comes equipped with napalm? I’d originally assumed this was a rare mistake, but then remembered that rats in Anita Blake’s St. Louis are six feet tall, wear pants and eat at Denny’s. So yeah. Flamethrowers.
21.3: This scene, wherein Anita flashes back to her origin, is–no joke–my favorite bit of the comic thus far, if only because I can’t read the line “my stepmother, Judith” without hearing it in the voice of the Teen Girl Squad.
22.5: SUDDDENLY… TENTACLES!
Yes, on the last panel, the cover’s promise of action finally pokes its head out, sees its shadow, and then promptly disappears with a complete lack of gunplay, skeleton hands, and looming shades rising from the background. But what’s really worth noting here is the caption, because this is a comic book that not only includes the line “It was a cemetery–there were lots of dead things in it,” but uses it to close out the issue.
And brother, if there’s a better analogy for the entire book, I’d like to hear it.