The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Executioner #2

Ever since the end of the first series, where I procrastinated to the point where I was doing two issues at a time–hands down the most harrowing experience I’ve ever been through for this blog, with the possible exception of South of the Border–it’s been my policy to annotate the new issues of Anita Blake almost immediately after they come out.

Obviously this didn’t happen last week, for the reason that I’ve been doing The Worst of Netflix weekly and liveblogging Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight on Twitter as I read it, and there’s only so much terrible media a man can take at one time.

But no more delays! Tonight, the ISB Research Department settles in to tackle the ever-increasing mysteries of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book Three: Executioner #2! Grab your copy and follow along!



0.0: This doesn’t have anything to do with this issue in particular, but on her website, series creator Laurenn J. Framingham has claimed that this series is, and I quote, “the first sexy paranormal comic ever!”

Hey, Laurenn? There’s a Vampirella calling on Line One to talk to you. And a Tarot on Line Two.


1.2: When we last left our alleged heroine, this book finally did what it had been avoiding for a year and actually had Anita in battle with a supernatural creature. This, of course, couldn’t last longer than a page, and–seriously–ended with the zombie just straight up leaving while Anita sat around in someone’s back yard.

And then other characters showed up so that, instead of involving themselves in any action that advances the plot, they can recap what happened literally three pages ago:



Now, I’ve mentioned the coma-inducing mind-numbing repetitive somewhat stilted nature of the book’s dialogue before, but to be fair, this scene was actually pared down to a drum-tight dialogue scene from the way it was in the book. Here’s the original draft:

ANITA: It spoke to me.

DOLPH: What do you mean it spoke to you?

ANITA: I mean it spoke.

DOLPH: To you?

ANITA: To me.

DOLPH: Out loud?

ANITA: And in English.

DOLPH: And you’re sure it was to you?

ANITA: To me.

DOLPH: What did it say?

ANITA: Words, words, words.

DOLPH: Cut the Shakespeare, Blake! The comissioner’s going to have my ass in a sling if we don’t bust this case wide open! Now tell me what happened here?

ANITA: It spoke. To me.

…and so on for another fourteen pages.


4.2: Hey, look at that: It’s only four more pages before something actually happens.



Yes, as shocking as it seems, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter is actually actively hunting… well, one of the undead anyway, and if past experience has taught us anything, that’s about as close as we’re gonna get.


5.3: Oh my God, even the mindless killing machines in this book have soliloquies.


6.2: Hey Killer Zombie! Do your impression of Cobra Commander explaining the root of the mortgage crisis!



6.3: Okay, now Anita, you do your impression of my readers after that last joke!



These crazy kids oughtta take this act on the road!


7.1: And so, once again, Anita fails to do both the job that she is paid for in her day-to-day employ (resurrecting the dead and laying them to rest) and her unofficial, often-touted but never-seen “Executioner” duties; is rescued by more competent secondary characters who still defer to her at every opportunity…



…and then sits down and watches other people do what is ostensibly her job.

Y’know, it’s easy to see why these books are so popular with such a strong female protagonist.


8.3: On the bright side, this issue does give us a sneak preview of the cover art Ron Lim created for the new album by ISB favorite AxeWulf: Sweden’s Blackest Metal!



9.1: Well, it looks like that’s it. The flesh-eating zombie Anita’s been looking for for the past three mini-series has been dealt with, the evil voodoo queen/kindly aunt who raised him has been hauled off to jail, and this is clearly the “heroine recovers in the hospital” scene that always precedes the final wrap-up.

Could it be that this series is actually ending three issues (and 13 pages) early?! Why… Why it’s a Christmas Miracle!





Oh Goddammit, there was a B-Plot wasn’t there?


16.3: Hey guys, check it out: Hey Anita, what did the five fingers say to the face?



Ha-ha! I’m Rick James, bit–what? It’s not 2004 anymore? Oh. Well disregard this note, then.


17.5: That’s right, folks: It’s the return of Harold Gaynor:



Gaynor, of course, is the character whose actions actually kicked off the phenomenally slow-moving plot of “The Laughing Corpse,” and if you’ve forgotten that, it might have something to do with the fact that he has not actually appeared in the comic since October of 2008.


19.1-2: You know, Laurell…



…if you’re going to characterize Anita as a super-tough badass by having her tell people that the last dude who messed with her is dead, you might want to wait a while so that we don’t remember that he’s dead because other characters came to rescue her after her own actions were completely and utterly ineffective.


20.1: It was at this point that I realized why it’s been so easy to make Big Lebowski jokes about this comic: The philandering Harold Gaynor is Laurenn J. Framingham’s attempt at doing Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep with zombies.

I feel stupid for not realizing that before, but I actually feel even more stupid now that I know it.

Chris vs. Previews: September 2008, Round One

It’s that time again!



Yes, it’s September–and has been for like two weeks, but come on: we can’t all be Mike Sterling–and that means that Fall is roaring right in with another five hundred pages of crap you don’t need with the Previews Catalog! And while the deadline for getting your order in technically passed last Saturday, I’ve finally roused myself from the Odinsleep to help inform your purchases once again.

As usual, we’ll be hitting the back half of the catalog tomorrow, but tonight belongs to the major publishers! Onward!



Dark Horse Comics

P. 26 – The Umbrella Academy: Dallas: Now that the shock from getting one of last year’s best miniseries out of a full-time rockstar who sketched his own character designs while touring has worn off and we’re basking to bask in the glow of its two shiny new Eisner Awards (including one for artist Gabriel Ba, who we all already knew was awesome), I feel that I can safely say that I am crazy excited about the second Umbrella Academy series.

Under other circumstances, I’d probably be a little more skeptical, but here, the nagging doubt over whether or not the second arc can live up to the fun and surprise of the first doesn’t even come into play. Everything that we’ve seen outside of Apocalypse Suite–the FCBD and the MySpace DHP stories–has been top-notch enjoyable comics that point to the fact that Way and Ba are far from done with these characters, and with the promise that “this is the story that will change absolutely nothing,” it’s all ready looking pretty sharp.

And it has an Abe Lincoln cover. So you know I’m in.


P. 37 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer #20: Ooh boy.

On the one hand, aside from the loathsome centaurs, I actually have been enjoying the Buffy comics quite a bit, and I’ve always been curious about the never-produced Buffy animated series, so this would seem like a natural fit.

But on the other, I’d rather do my own dental work with a corkscrew and a packet of salt than read another comic written by Jeph Loeb.

Decisions, decisions.


DC Comics


P. 62 – Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion #1: When I first heard at HeroesCon that there was going to be a Sgt. Rock series done by Billy Tucci–probably best known as the creator of Shi–I was pretty skeptical, and I’ll admit that I might’ve been a little unfair. I mean, I’ve never actually read a comic by Tucci, and I base most of my opinion of him on his covers and an interview I read when I was a teenager where he said that Shi wasn’t like the other “Bad Girls” of the early ’90s because her costume wasn’t built around sexiness.

For the record, Shi looks like this:



So there’s that.

Really, though, I’m actually pretty excited about this one. I can’t speak for his writing as I’ve never read it, but Tucci’s not a bad artist, and apparently he’s very passionate about the project, having done a ton of research to the point where he was at the Diamond Retailer Summit with actual veterans of the Big One, and I like Sgt. Rock more than enough to give it a shot. I’ve gotta say, though, as nice as this is…



…it doesn’t really look like Frank Rock to me. It might just be that I’m hung up on Joe Kubert’s definitive version, but while the guy above sure fits the bill of the lantern-jawed soldier, he’s a little too handsome to be the grizzled topkick of Easy Company. In my head, Rock should look like… well, like a Rock: Craggy, weatherbeaten and hard as chiseled granite. That’s a guy you can picture beating Nazis to death with an ammo belt.

EDIT: Check out the comments section below for a few words from writer/artist Billy Tucci, who stopped by to let me know that the image above isn’t actually the final cover for #1. You can find more information and images at the book’s Facebook page–yes: Sgt. Rock has a Facebook page–but if you’re a non-booker like me, here they aret:




Thanks again, Billy! (And thanks Ken for grabbing the pics from Facebook)


P. 70 – Batman: Cacophony: You know, for as much as I consider myself a former fan of Kevin Smith’s who was burned once too often–because seriously, Spider-Man/Black Cat is one of the worst written comics I’ve read in my life–I’ll cop to having a soft spot for Onomatopoeia, the completely bat-shit insane villain from the tail end of his run on Green Arrow. It’s not just that a he’s a villain who walks around murdering people while saying the sound effect caused by the murders out loud–although the fact that we’re supposed to take this guy as a credible threat to Green Arrow, let alone Batman, makes him ripe with comedic potential right off the bat–but that he’s presented so dead serious in the story that he reads like one of the later-era “dark reimaginings” of a goofy Silver Age villain (see: Geoff Johns’s coke-snortin’ Mirror Master) without ever having actually been one.

So yeah, I’ll admit to being a little curious about how this one’s going to work out, and like everyone else, I’ve noticed that DC went out of their way to subtly assure us that it was going to actually come out by putting photographs of both scripts in the DC Nation column, so–

Hm? Yeah, I said both scripts. Why?

Oh, this thing’s three parts? Well hell. See you in three years then, Onomatopoeia.


P. 71 – All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #11: Oh, hey, that reminds me! I never got around to reading and reviewing the issue that came out last week. All right, let’s see here…


Oh dear.

Oh dear.


P. 76 – Guardian of Metropolis Special #1: You know, as much as I love Jack Kirby, I was really hoping when I read the title that this was going to be the long-awaited return of this guy:



Sure, Jim Harper’s a great character and getting his origin is all well and good, but Jake Jordan fought the Subway Pirates of the S.S. President Clinton. Come on, DC. Get your head in the game.


P. 77 – Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves #3-4: You know, I was going to make fun of this one when the first two issues were solicited last month, but when I finally got around to them, I just couldn’t, and it wasn’t ’til I was talking to Rachelle about them that I figured out why. She said she liked it because it was “just so pure,” and that’s exactly it. You can’t make fun of this thing because it’s already a comic book where Superman and Batman fight vampires and werewolves that is called Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves. There’s no criticism that you can possibly level at this thing that isn’t already addressed right there in the title. They’ve made this fucker bulletproof.

It’s like they hired the guy who writes taglines for DMP or something.


P. 89 – Legion of Super-Heroes: The More Things Change TP: Hot damn! I guess the sales on An Eye For An Eye–which seriously has like three of the most badass moments in comics history–were strong enough to get another shot! Admittedly, odds are that we’re never going to get the entire 1984 run in trade–although it’d be great if we did–but at this point, I’m just glad to get more of it.


Sandman: The Dream Hunters #1: So: the illustrated prose story that was based on a comic is now being adapted into a comic itself. Yeah, sorry Vertigo, but if you wanted to take advantage of the post-Sandman Gaimania that caused me to buy Neverwhere in three different formats, that ship sailed about three years ago.

Still getting those Absolutes, though.


Image Comics

P. 144 – Hector Plasm: Totentanz One-Shot: Here’s something you might not know about Friend of the ISB Benito Cereno. He is very tall.

Seriously, when I finally met him at HeroesCon after a while of being friends online (interpals), I was a little shocked to find out that he’s a tower of a man who delighted small children by performing feats of strength and ate flapjacks the size of truck tires for breakfast. Admittedly, I usually take the pretty myopic route of assuming that the world’s built to the scale of guys who are 5’11” and spend a lot of time on the Internet, but seriously: Guy’s tall.

I tell you this because I assume that you already know the rest of the story about Benito: That he’s the incredibly talented young writer who brought you the unsung classic Tales From the Bully Pulpit with Grame Macdonald, a bonus story in the second Dr. McNinja trade, and the even more unsung but equally classic Hector Plasm: De Mortuis with Nate Bellegarde, featuring some of the sharpest ghost stories in comics. And knowing that, you would’ve already ordered this…



…the new Hector Plasm one-shot that’ll be hitting shelves just after Halloween. And of course you’ve done that, because you’re cool.

You… you are cool, right?


P. 145 – The Amazing Joy Buzzards v.2: Monster Love: When the new Amazing Joy Buzzards trade came out a while back, I initially passed on it–as an OG AJB fan, I’ve got the original trades–but when I actually saw the darn thing, the packaging on it was so nice that I’ve been considering upgrading to the new one ever since, even though I really ought to stop re-buying things that I already own.

With this, however, no debate is necessary as it’s listed as an OGN, which means that there’s all-new fun from the greatest rock band in comics and their mythical luchadore companion coming soon. And that is awesome.


Marvel Comics


P. 17 – Amazing Spider-Man #578: Oh snap.



This issue’s going to have Spider-Manlifting heavy wreckage… by Mark Waid and Marcos Martin. Could there be another comic so well-suited to my particular tastes?!


P. 25 – Captain America #44: Huh. I guess there could!



I’d just like to point out that this is a cover set up with a “mirror image” motif, which means that when Eisner-Nominated artist Steve Epting had to pick something that was exactly as powerful and threatening as a nuclear warhead, he chose Batroc Ze Leapair. Rock on, Steve. Rock on.


Ms. Marvel Special: Storyteller: She’s not someone that I spend a lot of my free time loathing–like, say, Wonder Man–but I’ve never been a big fan of Ms. Marvel, and while I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of Machine Man and Sleepwalker in Brian Reed’s run on her book, I’ve found that my interest pretty much evaporates whenever it starts to focus on its title character.

That said, even with the fact that Carol Danvers is on the cover of this thing wearing what appears to be a corset made entirely of belts, I’m almost tempted to pick it up based entirely on the presence of Pirate Punisher. Does he punish pirates? Is he the Punisheer? Frank Castle on the Forecastle? So many possibilities!


P. 107 – Thor: Man of War: Yeah. That’s about right.



And that takes care of the majors. If anything caught your eye this month–or more importantly, if you want to talk about whether Matt Fraction’s just going to give in and do a Thor one-shot based on the music of AxeWülf–feel free to let me know about it in the comments section below. Now if you’ll excuse me, the new episode of SBCG4AP dropped this week, and I still haven’t played it.

Music To Take Over the World To

Like a lot of culturally savvy guys in their mid–sigh, okay, late–twenties without much musical talent, I spend a lot of my time thinking up Good Band Names. I mean, there’s always a chance, no matter how small, that I could go out on the night of the full moon, meet the Devil at a crossroads, get him to teach me guitar at the cost of my immortal soul, and land a recording contract, and in this increasingly hypothetical situation, I’d need a solid handle for my band to really have a shot at cracking the charts.

For the record, I’m currently going with Deadliest Of Foes.

What I don’t think about, however, is the kind of music I’d actually be playing, probably because I just assume that when you bargain with the Devil, you end up with either Mississippi Delta Blues or Hardcore Death Metal. But really, the underlying concept of the band is even more important than having a snappy name, whether it’s something as simple as “four-piece guitar rock” or “retro-60s wall-of-sound Girl Group,” or as complex as “a nine-man hip-hop juggernaut based around classic kung-fu movies” or “galloping, epic barbaric Norwegian thrash metal.” Don’t get me wrong, having the actual talent helps too, but knowing where you’re starting from tends to make things easier.

Unfortunately, while I was coming up with names like “Hooray for Gooba” and “The Batwitches,” somebody else came up with the single greatest concept for a band that the world has ever seen: The GI Joe Killaz.



Renamed after a C&D from Hasbro as just “The Killaz,” are a three-piece group where a guy in a metal mask and a really hot brunette rap in character as Desto and the Baroness.



And yes. Cobra Commander is their DJ.



Pure. One hundred percent. Genius.

I’ve known about them for a couple of years, ever since Kevin hipped me to the fact that there was a band made almost explicitly for my tastes, but aside from the three tracks you can grab on their website, it wasn’t until Faithful Reader David Bédard found a copy of their CD up in Canada and sent it to me for my birthday that I was able to hear the whole thing and believe me. It’s awesome.

Aside from the general songs about life on the streets and/or in Cobra Command, the best bits on the album are the ones where they take an episode of the cartoon like “Money To Burn” and build an entire track around them. To repeat: This is a CD where Stacy and Des bust rhymes for three minutes about Cobra Commander’s plot to use radiation to burn all of the paper currency in the world and replace it with his own money.

Looks like we have a new Best Album Ever. Suck it, Revolver.

Which isn’t to say that the other songs on the album aren’t great: “The Seduction,” wherein plans are laid out for defeating Roadblock (“I got my sight set on your machine lever / I think I’m burnin’ up with a case of Jungle Fever”) and Jinx (“Runnin’ towards me swingin’ two ninja swords / Drop the blades, drop your clothes and drop to the floor”) is fantastic, and in “Python Patrol,” they go through Cobra’s hierarchy and even manage to include the fact that Crimson Guardsmen are all college educated with lyrics that are not only funny, but are a pretty solid cut above other so-called “nerdcore” novelty acts.

Or at least I thought they were, but since it’s got a section where the Baroness is rapping about the Televipers, I could be a little biased.

Probably best if you judge for yourself. Believe it or not, the album is actually still available on Amazon, and as a public service, have a listen to my favorite track, based on one of my favorite episodes of the show (which is also available for download on their site, if you want to kill somebody else’s bandwidth):

G.I. Joe Killaz – Eau De Cobra (6.75 MB, 192 kbps mp3).

Because the only thing better than the Baroness making a mind-control perfume to steal money from a billionaire on a cruise ship is Destro rapping about it.