Sharp-eyed ISB readers may have noticed that it’s been a while since we’ve been down this particular lonesome road, but the fact of the matter is that after the nervous breakdown that capped off our our last attempt at casting the light of scholarship onto Laurenn J. Framingham’s landmark Marvel Comics urban fantasy series, the Research Department needed a little extra time to recover.
But tonight, it’s back in action! After all, with the next issue of Guilty Pleasures–the series that consistently lives up to half of its name–hitting shelves tomorrow, the last thing we want is to fall behind in our attempts to classify and explain the adventures of everyone’s fifth-favorite Vampire Hunter.
And really, we at the Research Department are nothing if not timely.
Grab a copy of your own and follow along!
1.1: It might not be readily apparent from this panel…
…wherein Anita picks up where the last issue left off by continuing her psychic duel with Draco Malfoy’s twin sister, but this issue marks the debut of new series penciller Ron Lim, which presents the Research Department with something of a problem. See, Lim’s a veteran of the Golden Age of Marvel Comics–the eighties*–and as such, he brings a basic level of craftsmanship to the art even when he’s doing his thigh-swelling best to ape Brett Booth, and that’s going to make making fun of the art a lot harder.
Er, wait. Not making fun. Academic criticism, I mean.
Probably best to just move on.
1.5: Considering that there’s no amount of wind in the world that would explain the behavior of Nikolaos’s hair on this page…
…and assuming that she is, in fact, a vampire and not some deadly hybrid known only as The Medusapire, one has to seek another explanation.
The most logical theory? In a reference that will only be understood by me and the six other people who played it, Nikolaos is sporting a coif along the lines of Colonel Scott O’Conner, hero of 1990’s Kabuki Quantum Fighter for the NES. This would also explain why she crouches down and presses A three times to swap chips for health on page ten.
That’s what she said.
3.1: Ever since the Research Department pointed out that Nikolaos–the evil sinister vampire overlord who is actually a little girl–was something of a cliché ever since it was done by Bring It On‘s Kirsten Dunst back in 1994, we’ve been waiting for something that would set her apart as a true force of evil. And now we have it, because in this panel…
NIKOLAOS SWEEPS THE LEG.
Clearly, the combination of vampiric abilities and John Kreese’s Cobra Kai style karate is a threat to the entirety of the Greater St. Louis area.
3.2: It’s not specifically indicated in the comic itself, but if you imagine that “AIEE! RUN! PERVERTS!” is being screamed by a looming, off-panel Sinistar, this issue gets a whole lot better.
5.7: So apparently, this is what passes for tough-guy banter in the world of Anita Blake:
I mean, come on, Framingham! Everybody knows Fangface was a werewolf, not a vampire!
8.4: In this panel, Anita and Phillip share what I think is supposed to be a tender moment…
…but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen this image before. Oh, of course!
In reconstructing the classic cover to H2O, Hall & Oates’ 1982 masterpiece, Lim has reminded us that Anita’s world is one where Private Eyes go One On One with literal Maneaters.
Gino the Manager.
10.1: Finally, the scene we’ve all been waiting for: Full Frontal.
Let’s face it, folks: It had to happen sometime, and we might as well just go ahead and get it out of the way here. What’s interesting to me, though, is that Jess Ruffner decided to adapt the shower scene rather than one of the sixteen bikini car washes that crop up, seemingly at random, over the course of the first book.
11.1: Despite the fact that it’s a dream sequence and, as such, doesn’t really count, this sequence marks the return of
James from Team Rocket Jean-Claude, who is allegedly one of our main characters, despite the fact that he hasn’t appeared in like a year and a half. Also…
…I totally thought Anita was saying “vampires don’t eat soul food,” which, with the exception of Blacula, is also true.
12.1: After two and a half issues of Anita & Co. tromping around in the woods for reasons that remain a mystery even to the Research Department, we’ve finally got a reminder that this book takes place in an actual city–Specifically, as I’ve mentioned before, St. Louis, Missouri.
Speaking of, when Mark Twain, author of what is arguably the greatest American novel, was asked about the proper pronunciation of his home state, he famously remarked that people from Missouri called it “Missour-uh,” non-natives callled it “Missou-ree,” and those who were born there and had no opportunity to leave referred to it as “Misery.”
Slightly less well-known, however, was an additional caveat: “And if you should find yourself reading cheap vampire-themed pseudo-erotica set in the state, then… Jesus, man. Jesus.”
12.3: The fact that Theresa leaves the party and changes out of her gothy fetish dress and into a snappy business suit before she’s decapitated is certainly an important clue to the series’ alleged mystery.
15.2: As a testament to her fame, a list sent to the Research Department by an alert reader lists Laurenn J. Framingham as one of the “CUTEST Paranormal Authors.” Specifically, she’s listed with the note “looks like she could be one of her characters.”
On a COMPLETELY UNRELATED note, here’s one of her characters:
And with that, it’s probably best to call it a night.