Halloween may be over, but like the restless spirits of the uniquet dead, the Anita Blake comics have risen into a new series, Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book Three: Executioner, and thus it falls to the ISB Research Department to cast the light of scholarship onto the many… well, let’s just call them the “intriguing” mysteries of the series.
To be honest, your humble annotator has been dreading this one, but it turns out that this is actually the most exciting issue of Anita Blake ever. Of course, that’s sort of like saying that it’s the most exciting pudding cup or Bob Ross’s most action-packed painting, but still, it’s an improvement.
Ah, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Grab your own copy and follow along!
0.0: In order to differentiate it from the other ten issues of the series, the third act of Laughing Corpse has been given the subtitle “Executioner.” Assuming the pattern that was set by Book Two: Necromancer (in which Anita did not perform necromancy) and Book One: Animator (in which Anita outright refused to do any animating) holds up, we can look forward to five more issues of our alleged heroine not doing exactly what it says she’ll be doing on the cover.
1.1: When we last left Anita, she and the cops had set about harassing local voodoo queen Dominga Salvador–who looks like Aunt May and talks like Razor Ramon–by throwing a witchity charm bracelet at her:
In retrospect, it’s easy to see why this sequence of events necessitated an entire new series to deal with it.
1.2-1.3: The police in private eye fiction are notoriously incompetent–after all, if they were any good, there wouldn’t be much of a need for the private detective in the first place–but Framingham’s St. Louis cops are particularly hard-up. Mostly this owes to the fact that they’re constantly seen as being even more ineffectual than Anita herself even though their biggest role in the story thus far has been to rescue her from zombies, but check this guy out:
From what I can tell from reading the comics, the Anita Blake books take place in a world where the general populace is pretty well acquainted with the supernatural. Anita herself has a legitimate day job where she raises zombies, and there have been multiple references to a landmark Supreme Court case that gave vampires legal standing. It’s a fact of life, and yet this dude is so shocked by the fact that a bangle made of human bones is lazily tromping across the floor that he has to mug like Wayne and Garth for the benefit of Detective Skinny Tie.
Quite apart from that, I’m curious as to whether the word “frickin’” appeared in the original novel. The series carries a Mature Content warning, but the strongest language I recall seeing in the series is a couple of s-bombs, so having it edited isn’t out of the question, and it would lend a little more contest to Aunt May’s anger than it does as a minced oath. That said, I’m not curious enough to actually go read the original novel and find out, so let’s move on.
2.1: Hey, remember when I said that Framingham’s SLPD were ineffective? Well it looks like I spoke too soon:
That’s right: He’s making the murder suspect stand in the corner. He’d love to put him on no-TV restriction, but IAB says he needs a warrant. Commie liberal bastards.
4.2: At this point, we’ve spent four pages in this issue alone (plus a handful of pages in LJFsABLCB2N #5) waiting for an old woman to admit to Evil Arts & Crafts. When I said this issue was more exciting than the others, I meant it in relative terms.
6.4: And now, a Writing Protip: If you’ve managed to get into the final act of your second book with a character without having her actually do anything that show why she’s your protagonist, here’s an easy fix:
Just have the other characters talk about how cool she is! Telling is pretty much the same as showing, and it’s not like anybody’ll notice!
7.2: At this point, the events of the story split, and you might be wondering if the narrative follows Dolph, who has to prowl the creepy-on-many-levels zombie sex den in Aunt May’s basement, or his partner’s interrogation of her nephew (who by my logic would be Spider-Man), which causes him to break down and spill the terrifying secrets of her entire operation.
The answer, of course, is neither:
Instead, we follow Anita, who sits patiently on the couch waiting for something to happen and occasionally quipping at a septugenarian. THRILLS AND CHILLS!
8.4: This panel is notable not just because something is happening–though in typical fashion, it’s happening off-panel while other characters react to it–but because Anita isn’t looking directly at Dr. Soulpatch as he shoves her out of the way and tries to stop the Darque Magick or Alien Invasion or Skateboarding Bulldog or whatever the hell is happening off-panel that the creative team didn’t think we were worthy of seeing:
She looks like she’s really into whatever’s on TV, and if Dominga’s anything like my grandma, we can assume the police raid is going down during a particularly intense installment of the 700 Club.
11.6: On occasion, your humble annotator will take it upon himself to attempt to improve matters with a bit of punched-up dialogue. Usually, this involves adding the works of today’s notable hip-hop artists, but this time around I think something else is more appropriate:
One can only hope that the creators take my suggestions to heart, and that we see Dolph transform from Hulk to Hollywood in the next issue.
15.4: The last five pages have centerd around Anita and the Keystone Cops fretting over whether they’d be able to bring Aunt May down without the evidence that she magically absorbed back into her body. And then it turns out that it’s all irrelevant because the other detective pulled some Vincent D’Onofrio-on-Criminal-Intent shit and got her nephew to confess.
In other words, the key moment of this entire story happens while the protagonist is bickering with an old lady in another room.
18.1: What’s this?! Anita’s actually pulled out her gun, and is pointing it at…
… a completely inanimate pile of garbage. Oh well, it’s a start.
18.2: At this point, Anita and the cops are alerted to the presence of that zombie they’ve been looking for for a year and a half by some screaming that is–wait for it–off-panel.
19.5: And now, while Anita is commando-crawling through what appears to be a miniature swampland that sprung up for no reason in the middle of the suburbs, one of the cops is injured. Again, this happens off-panel.
The amount of story events that occur in this book while we’re looking at Anita doing nothing would fill an entire, much better comic.
21.3: Holy crap, is that an actual monster?!
I think it is! And since it would be weird for a zuvembi to exaggerate his siblants for no reason, I can only assume that this is now a comic about Zombie Cobra Commander.
Did… did this just get awesome?
22.2: If you would’ve told me last week that the next issue of Anita Blake would have a scene where the main character acutally shot a monster, I would’ve called you the lyingest liar in Lietown. And yet, here we are. And with one more panel to go, surely this could be the moment when we finally get a cliffhanger with some suspense to it, right? Right?
22.3: Or maybe the Zombie will just leave.
The Framingham giveth, and the Framingham taketh away.