The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Executioner #5

Finally, at long last, the fifteen-issue adaptation of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse has come to an end!

Well, if you want to get technical, it actually ended about three weeks ago, and while you’d think I would’ve been in a hurry to get this thing over with, the fact that they’ve already solicited the first issue of the next adaptation, Circus of the Damned (in which I assume Anita goes undercover as a healthy-thighed Jugalette) has once again recast my efforts as a round of Sisyphean masochism an academic pursuit that continues to take a little longer than I’d hoped.

But no matter! Much like The Goonies, your humble annotator never says die! So grab a copy of your own and follow along as we delve for the final time into the academic mysteries of The Laughing Corpse!



1.1: When we last left Anita, she had shocked the world by actually doing something for what pretty much amounted to the second time in three years. Specifically, she straight-up murdered two dudes with a machete, which has taken us one step closer to my dream project of an Anita Blake movie starring Danny Trejo.

When this issue picks back up, we’re witnessing the aftermath of Anita’s double-homicide…



…specifically her enjoyment of the thrill that comes from ending a human life that she was never able to feel no matter how many animals she killed in the past. That’s our heroine, folks: Pretty much just quoting the Charles Manson playbook.


2.2: You know, in the midst of all this action involving Anita actually doing her job (albeit not the one where she hunts vampires like it says on the cover), which is actually coming on a level that we’ve never once seen from the Anita Blake comics…



…it’s nice that Framingham still takes the time to make sure we get a wordy, awkward DungeonMaster’s Guide explanation of what necromancy is. Even more amazing: The fact that it’s actually necessary to explain it at this point.


3.1: You know, while it’s nice that Anita’s finally using her super-powers to raise the dead after a whopping thirty-one issues of talking about it, I’ve gotta say that this incantation she drops is a little pedestrian:



“Arise and serve me?” C’mon, Laurenn, magic words aren’t supposed to be someone shouting their exact-literal intent! At least throw in some faux-Latin and a flick-and-swish, or–better yet–let me have a crack at punching this one up:



And you thought I was going to go with a hip-hop reference.


3.3-3.4: I think it’s worth noting here that when Anita, who allegedly raises the dead for a living, performs a double-human sacrifice and shouts “ARISE AND SERVE ME”…



…Aunt May, who is herself a necromanceress of some renown and made an Octofrankenstein last issue–needs this explained to her. Seriously, I know I’ve been critical of Anita’s powers of observation (or lack thereof) in the past, but considering that everyone else in this book is dumb as a bag of hammers, I’m starting to think she might just be the smartest one by default.


4/5: Okay, your humble annotator has to admit: Despite taking over three years of publication to actually get around to happening,l the fact that Anita uses her super-powers to raise a hundred zombies at once and send them to get revenge by ripping her enemies limb from limb? That’s actually pretty… awesome.

Sorry, it took me a minute to remember that word, as I don’t think I’ve ever used it while writing one of these articles before.


6.2-6.3: Of course, the fact that she does all this in order to murder a septuagenarian who looks like she spends her time making wheatcakes and reminding Peter to stay away from that awful Spider-Man does taint the moral victory a little (even if it results in a truly great last word noise)…



…but like my mama always said, there’s no kill like overkill.

8.5: Also meeting his untimely end in this issue: Harold “The Big Lebowski” Gaynor, which brings an end to his plot and allows us to finally answer the question I’m sure someone on the Internet has been desperately asking: Would The Big Sleep be better if it had zombies?

Answer: No. No it would not.


10.3-10.4: You know, with as thrilling as it is for Anita to resurrect an entire graveyard’s worth of zuvembies and unleash them on those who have wronged her, I think there’s something pretty appropriate to the way she ends up dealing with them once they’ve outlived their usefulness:



By talking them to sleep, much like she’s been doing to me for the past three years.

Still, this issue’s been a major turning point for the series: Not only does Anita double-cross her captors and mete out harsh, deadly justice in a very proactive way, she also resists a supporting character’s urge to stop, outright rejecting the idea of doing nothing for the first time in the entire series. This is the Anita that we’ve been promised since Day One, the badass that’s finally living up to 31 issues of blowhard hype. This is actually a character I wouldn’t mind reading about, and shockingly, I’m starting to think that there’s nothing about her left to make fun of.





Okay, well. Maybe there’s still something to make fun of.

And considering that the rest of the issue is epilogue stuff that I can’t be bothered to care about because a lot of it hasn’t been mentioned since the Bush administration, that about wraps it all up. Although this issue does give me the opportunity to say something I’ve been waiting quite a while to drop on Anita:




Shhhhhhhhhhh… just you shut your mouth.

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Executioner #4

As regular ISB readers know, the last few weeks have seen some major changes in my life. With the release of my first professional comics work and a move over to a full-time job with ComicsAlliance, I’ve become a full-time freelance writer. And yet, no matter how hard I try to get them to do it, nobody will pay me to read these Anita Blake comics.

Yes, like all disproportionately bitter loudmouths devoted seekers of knowledge, my dedication is unappreciated in its own time, but sometimes scholarship is its own reward. This, however, continues to be largely thankless, so let’s get on with it. Grab your own copy and follow along!



0.0: Though the interiors are still done by “Rascally” Ron Lim, this issue’s cover was provided by the original Anita Blake artist, Brett Booth…



…which means that once again, Anita has a thigh that is wider than her waist and tiny, tiny little hands. Both of those are to be expected, but the weird thing here is that your humble annotator has been doing this for so long that the sight of ol’ Thunder Thighs up there actually sparked a twinge of nostalgia for when I started doing this three years ago. Remember that? Back when I was young and hadn’t had the hope crushed out of me by interminable scenes of chatty vampire hunters refusing to hunt vampires?

Ah. Memories.


1.1: In equally cheery news, this issue picks up right where we left off last time, with Anita being menaced with the threat of rape and torture:



Because, you know. Empowerment. Given that we’ve got another issue to go (and that there have been something like forty-six Anita Blake novels after The Laughing Corpse), I think it’s safe to assume that Anita’s not actually going to die here, but if three and a half years of this book have taught us anything, it’s that this conflict will most likely be resolved by Anita talking someone to death and/or being rescued by someone with an actual shred of competence. Let’s find out!


2.1: Hey, wait a sec–




2.6: –slow dow–



3.2: Just hang on a min–



3.3: Whoa whoa whoa wait–



Okay. Is it over? Okay.

So, uh… Basically Anita Blake just poked out a guy’s eye, threw a knife into his chest, and then beat him to death with a chair, which means that Framingham & Co. just straight turned this book into a late ’90s New Jack match, and I assure you that no one is more surprised by this development than me. Seriously, I checked the cover three times to make sure I was reading Anita Blake.

I’ve got to say, I’ve been pretty harsh on this book’s complete and utter lack of action, but now I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t some metafictional con on the reader, where fourteen issues of monumentally low expectations are given to the reader so that when she does go apeshit on a bad guy, it actually comes as the kind of visceral shock that it should, even to someone jaded by a lifetime of comics about people kicking each other in the head.

Maybe it’s a long shot, but I’m willing to embrace the idea that I might be wr… That I might be wrrr… that I might be slightly incorrect in my assessment of the series thus far, and the last three years of boredom is just a masterful commitment to storytelling that are finally paying off. Maybe this is the turning point I’ve been waiting for!


4.5: And here’s the first test for LJF’sABVHTLCB3E‘s bold new direction:



Cicely, the Big Lebowski’s deaf prostitute henchwench, who has apparently taken some time off from her important work with the Mad Gear Gang, and–Zounds!

4.6: Anita just cold went Inspector Tequila on this!



Man, I just… I can’t believe it. Anita Blake’s getting shot and returning fire and killing bad guys! She’s doing stuff! I mean, none of it’s actually related to hunting vampires like it says she does on the cover, but still! I’m actually liking this comic!


5.5: Quick aside, though: Am I the only one who thinks Anita’s broke-ass K-Mart Nike knockoffs are hilarious?



I am? Okay, well, they are.


7.1: Oh man, this should be awesome! The crazy zombie monster that first appeared in the last issue has shown up! Given that Cicely’s been shot through the heart with Anita to blame and Tommy’s been beaten like Mick Foley at Royal Rumble ’99 (Note To Readers Who Did Not Spend Their Youths Watching WWF: He got hit with a chair a lot. Like, a lot), then this ought to be a huge moment. Cicely and Tommy were, after all, minor villains (Cicely only appeared in two issues that were released more than a year apart), and the big zombie monster is the most impressive supernatural threat that we’ve yet seen in a series of comics that are built entirely around supernatural threats! This, therefore, should be the biggest and most tense action of the series thus far!


9.3: Or, she could fucking talk to it.



For those of you keeping score at home, the amount of time that I was actually enjoying Anita Blake is 7 pages, 2 panels. And you know, that’s my fault, really. I should’ve known better.


11.2-3: Yep, things are well and truly back to normal:



After a brief flirtation with competence, Anita’s back to being unable to resist external forces that are compelling her into exciting activities like “walking around.” That’s our Anita!


14.5: Yeah, nice try here…



…but I’m not falling for it again. You can have Aunt May smack her around all you want, you can even have her murder two dudes with a machete (but not, unfortunately, with Machete) on Page 22, but I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not going to get my hopes up that anything of substance is ever going to happen in this comic.

You got me once, LJF’sABVHTLCB3E… But I won’t get fooled again.

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Executioner #3

Every now and then, you’ll hear someone ask the question “What makes a hero?” and usually, they come to the conclusion that a hero is someone who puts the needs of others before himself, often making a supreme sacrifice. Am I a hero? Well, I don’t rightly know.

What I do know is that I’m sitting here reading a copy of Anita Blake when I’ve got Bayonetta less than twenty feet away.

Yes, it’s time once again for the ISB Research Department to suffer through examine the mysteries of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book Three: Executioner. This time it’s #3, which–as shocking as it might seem–is the one where things actually happen! Grab your own copy and follow along!



0.0: The recent trend of giving the Anita Blake comics covers depicting scenes that I’d charitably refer to as “optimistic” continues with this issue, where Anita is clubbing zombies with a shotgun while hovering about a mile from the surface of the Moon:



This is in direct opposition to previous covers, like the one where Jean-Claude stood around with his shirt unbuttoned, which depicted exactly what happened in the issue. Admittedly, this one has more action than the rest of the series combined, but if anything even remotely resembling the image above actually happens, I will literally eat this comic book.


1.3: When we last left Anita Blake, she was being menaced by the Big Lebowski, who had just ordered the (oddly muscular) Brandt to beat seven shades of pale out of Anita, and since the issue picks up right after that, you know what that means:



Yep: Three pages of stretching.


2.1: All right, now you guys know I love Ron Lim. Straight up, that guy drew the issue of Infinity Gauntlet where Thanos killed all the Marvel super-heroes one by one, so the rest of his career could just be drawings of me getting punched in the face and I’d still think he was awesome. That said…



…I’m pretty sure this is less “jujitsu” and more Adolfo “Shabba Doo” Quiñones.


3.1: Hey Anita…



How about we work on “amusing” first and then see about getting up to “hysterical.”


4.1: And finally, the fight scene actually begins, and you know what? Given what’s happened over the past few years of me reading this, I’m actually surprised it only took three pages of buildup from a guy telling someone to throw a punch and that punch actually being thrown.


4.3: And now, Anita Blake being kicked in the face:



Yeah, yeah, I know: I already posted that panel last Thursday. Just let me have my moment.


5.3: You know, it took a while, but between the long, painfully boring buildup, the constant boasting about how badass certain characters are without any proof to back it up, and now–the final piece of the puzzle–speed lines, I’ve finally figured it out:



Anita Blake is totally the urban fantasy DragonBall Z.


7.3: Man, finally. I was worried that Framingham was going to leave “Smaller heroine kicks bigger assailant in the balls” off of the grand checklist of cliches that constitute the plot.


8.3: Finally, after thirteen issues, a monster shows up that’s actually scary enough to prove Laurenn J. Framingham once rifled through the Fiend Folio:



It is, of course, the work of murderous voodoo queen/wheatcake chef Aunt May, and this being Anita Blake, it shows up, stands there while Anita talks about it, and does absolutely nothing for the rest of the issue.


12.1: Seriously, the monster shows up and Aunt May spends three pages talking about how she made it, stopping just short of listing how many hit dice it has. Just a reminder: Laurenn J. Framingham actually got paid to write this.


16.5: Hey, you ever notice how the middle third of every issue of Anita Blake is just people standing around FOR LIKE AN HOUR? Of course you do. That’s why you let me read it for you.


18.4-19.1: There’s one thing you can say about a plot that moves like a glacier made of snails: It gives you a lot of time to remind your readers that hired thugs are people too.


19.2: In this panel, we’ve got the return of paraplegic prostitute Wheelchair Wanda



…who I assume is brought back into the plot because, what with Anita smacked around and tied up having given up on escape after a bare minimum of action did not immediately result in her freedom, we needed a new baseline that would make Anita look like a strong female protagonist by comparison.

20.4: Finally, a chance to do some actual literary annotation!



In this context, the “strength” of Wheelchair Wanda’s arms (and the fact that they “have to be strong” because they’re “all she has”) is symbolic of her fragile emotional strength and the one shred of self-reliance on which she can rely. And I’m explaining this because if you had actually read this, there is no way in hell you’d believe someone put a metaphor that hamfisted into something for which people were actually expected to pay money.


22.4: And just when we thought we’d hit rock bottom, Anita is threatened with rape.



Those of you playing along at home have just hit Female Protagonist Cliche Bingo. For the rest of you, a piece of advice: Invest heavily in liquor companies before the next issue comes out; I get the feeling this one’s gonna be a liver-killer.

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.

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Executioner #1

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.

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Necromancer #5

What a week it’s been for comics!

Not only did my own comic, Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N., make its print debut at this year’s Small Press Expo, but we also saw the release of the final issue of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book 2: Necromancer!

Of course, this is assuming that you’re operating in a world where the word “final” means that there’s going to be yet another five-issue mini-series before we’re done with the same damn story, which itself represents less than 6% of the Anita Blake series entire. Which apparently we are.

But the ISB Research Department isn’t here to nitpick! We’re here to… well, I guess we are here to nitpick, but we assure you that it is for the highly scholarly purpose of exploring the many “fascinating” mysteries of the series!

Grab a copy of your own and follow along!



1.1: And it begins.



This is the very first panel of this issue of Anita Blake, and already we are faced with problems. Let’s take a closer look at that caption, shall we?



And now let’s have one more look at the art of the exact same panel which I assume will have Anita with her forehead “against the cool linoleum of the floor,” just as it says in the caption, which–again–is in the exact same panel.



Yep. It’s gonna be one of those issues, folks.


1.2: All told, I’ve been annotating the Anita Blake books since 2006. That is literally years of my life spent reading this book. Normally, this thought would be depressing enough to paralyze me in bed with an intravenous drip of Jack and Coke, but as the author is quick to point out…



…it is not a book about Anita Blake vomiting on corpses.



2.5: Apparently the muder that Anita has spent the last two pages not investigating could’ve been prevented by a nieghbor, who, thinking it was a domestic dispute, chose not to get involved.



The irony of Anita Blake lamenting that someone else did not take action is staggering.


5.3: My only exposure to the universe of Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter is the comics, but apparently one of the key selling points of the setting is the way that supernatural creatures like vampires are treated in a more realistic fashion as it relates to the law. Which means that the only thing more frustrating than this scene, where the idea of a group of armed men chasing down a killer zombie is reduced to a procedural that occurs off-panel, is that there are actually people who think that’s a good thing.


7.1: Despite the fact that it’s actually just the middle third of a story that’s being stretched like salt water taffy, the number on the cover of this issue says “Vampire Hunter” and “5 of 5,” and it should, by all rights, be the action-packed climax of a story where at least one vampire is hunted.



Anita and Dolph have been talking in a goddamn bathroom for seven pages. At least it looks like the colorist is having a fun game of Tetris in the background.


8.3: Finally, a scene change with some potential!



Anita has brought another animator, John Burke, to the city morgue and I’ve got to admit, a morgue in a world of zombies and vampires that has machine-guns mounted on the wall to prevent a mass breakout is actually a pretty good idea. In fact, I’d venture to say that it fills me with hope for the rest of the book, because there’s no possible way that a story about corpses rising from the dead could have a scene where two people whose entire function is to raise people from the dead (including one for whom this is a primary source of income) could go to a place where there are a bunch of dead bodies and not get into some trouble, right? There’s no way this could possibly turn into thirteen more pages of investigation so boring it makes Matlock look intense, right? Right?


9.1: Son of a bitch.


10.5: Soulpatch aside, the man’s got a point.



Save your breath, Johnny. I’ve been saying that for three years now and they just don’t listen.


11.5: At this point, this story–which, remember, could have been about lost zombie pirate treasure–is now revolving entirely around a charm bracelet.



Also of note: Anita Blake, who uses a machete to slit the throats of chickens so that she can resurrect the dead, is apparently only casually into voodoo.


12.5: And now, my favorite panel in the entire series thus far:



How borrow indeed, Anita. How borrow indeed.

21.1: And nine pages later, after a medical examination that could’ve passed as the most boring episode of Quincy ever filmed, Anita and Severus Soulpatch up there finally leave the morgue so that they can go back to Aunt May’s house, presumably for wheatcakes:



And that is where this–which I remind you is the last issue of a mini-series–ends: With the heroine threatening an old woman in front of her grandchildren.

You stay classy, Anita Blake.

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Necromancer #4

Ever since my laziness led me to go through two issues at once to catch up near the end of the first series, it’s been my practice to tackle new issues of the Anita Blake comics over the weekend after they come out. This time, however, there was a problem, as my Internet connection inexplicably died Saturday night, with no technicians available to check it out ’til Monday.

Could it be that fate itself didn’t want me reviewing the latest issue of Laurenn J. Framingham’s vamperotic “master” “work?”

Apparently not. Just when I’d resigned myself to another night devoted to Batman: Arkham Asylum, the connection popped back up, so I guess fate has decreed that I will once again suffer through another 22 pages for your amusement shine the light of scholarship onto the mysteries of the story. So, you know, I’ve got that goin’ for me.

Now on with it! Grab your own copy and follow along!



1.1: When we last left Anita, she’d taken a hooker back to her apartment with Jean-Claude, but like most things in Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter (up to and including the title), this is not as exciting as it sounds.



That’s right, folks: It’s another eight pages of talking. I have to say, though, as much as I’ve pointed out how this book tends to dwell on the aspects of vampire hunting that involve neither vampires nor hunting, I actually would’ve liked to see the scene where Jean-Claude goes into Anita’s room, looks around at all the stuffed animals (some of which have been poorly laundered recently) and just getting weirded out.


1.4: In this panel, Anita claims that she feels “like a bully.”



Considering that Bully the Little Stuffed Bull is mostly known for stuff like Ten of a Kind, 365 Days With Ben Grimm and other upbeat comics blogging rather than badgering weepy hookers, it’s safe to assume that she feels like Jimmy Hopkins, and regrets not picking the flowers in front of the Girl’s Dorm before starting a social interaction.


2.5: And now, dialogue!



The gun in question is Anita’s Firestar nine milimeter, last seen in the book’s most recent scene that involved something resembling action, which was five issues ago. As to why Wheelchair Wanda–and yes, that is the character’s actual name–feels the need to ask if it’s the same gun, and why this made it into both a novel and its comic book adaptation without being cut as pointless busywork for letterer Bill Tortolini, take it up with Framingham. I just read ’em, folks.


3.5: Aaaaaaaaaand we have our first reference to torture of the disabled for sexual thrills as a plot point. Rad. Reference #2, incidentally, will come on page four, but as it’s a reference to torture of the disabled performed by the disabled, it’s probably a matter to be addressed separately. Preferably by someone far less sober than I.


5.4: Prepare your mind for a literary technique, son:



Wow. That is deep. But it should be noted that before the author decided to blow your mindwith that stunner of a revelation, the passage was originally written thus:

Gaynor had done worse than killer her. He had hurt her. And he wished to go on hurting her. He shall leave her as she left him, marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet… buried alive!


7.1: At this point, it is revealed that this story has been driven by–no joke–lost pirate treasure that can only be found by zombies. Seriously. Zombie pirate treasure. That’s what this is about. Pages upon pages of standing around, washing stuffed penguins, making coffee, identifying guns, and it’s all been going on while we could’ve had what is essentially the plot of a Monkey Island game.

There isn’t a word for the level of frustration I’m feeling right now.


7.4: Anita refers here to the “hornless goat” in the context of a voodoo ritual. In previous issues, this has been referred to exclusively as a “white goat.” Now I might be the only one to notice this–I certainly don’t expect anybody else to read these things four or five times–but come on: If you can’t keep your kooky made-up terms for human sacrifice straight, why the heck should I?


11.1-11.2: You know, there’s been a lot of this book devoted to Anita waking up and getting out of bed.



One assumes that by having Anita constantly waking up to bad news–last time zombies, this time… a phone call, though admittedly an omnious one–the author is trying to set up a recurring theme, although it’s more likely that chucking in a few panels of Anita sleeping is just the most efficient way of showing her literally doing nothing, as opposed to the countless scenes where it only seems like she’s lost consciousness.





Yep: Shit on a roll. Exactly what I was thinking.


15.5: Whoa! That seems a little uncalled for!



Yes, Anita and Merloni the CSI spend the next five pages trying to gross each other out by throwing chunks of mutliated suburbanites–you know, evidence–at each other in what comes as close as we’re likely to get to conflict…


20.3: …and Anita decides to vent her frustrations by throwing around racial slurs:



Yeah. And you know who else turned his frustrations to racism? That’s right: Adolf Hitler.

I think you see where I’m going with this.