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

You know, I’d assumed that with the two month gap between the first and second issues of the series, Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book Two: Necromancer was going to be a bimonthly title. And yet, here we are with a new issue, a mere five weeks later. And it feels like only seconds.

But in any case, it’s out, and it once again falls to the ISB Research Department to do our scholarly duty by illuminating the many, many questions that the series raises (chief among them why it’s still getting published). However, at this point, I’m not doing it so much as a work of literary criticism as I am to further the cause of science, because if they can figure out how to actually make less happen in this comic, I’m pretty sure reading it will send you back in time.

So strap on a pair of goggles, do your part for SCIENCE!, grab a copy of your own and follow along!



0.0: The cover to this issue not only features a well-known landmark, St. Louis’s historic Hotel Necromancer…



…but has also introduced my new favorite supporting character:



The Hooker Who Regrets The Life Choices That Have Led Her To Be On the Cover of an Anita Blake Comic Book.


1.1: You know, far be it from your humble annotator to criticize, but when you’re trying to establish that your lead character is a badass without actually having any… whaddayacallem… oh yeah, events in your novel, you might want to shy away from first-person narration about how physically weak she is when compared to other characters, especially in scenes where she looks like a card-carrying member of the Lollipop Guild.



1.2: Despite what you may have heard about how every scene in a well-written work should reveal character or advance the plot, I assure you that this…



…is completely necessary.


2.5: Prepare for trouble… and make it do–oh my God are you for real?!



So let me get this straight. You’re telling me that not only were eight pages of this guy in the last issue not enough, but the entire function of Charlie was to show up and announce that he had obligations that were more important than the actual plot (which, at this point, is just about anything) so that Anita would have to go back in and have another five-page conversation that’ll be followed by six pages of riding in a car?!

Guys… I’m starting to suspect that this thing might not be very good.


3.3: I’m not sure what this has to do with questioning prostitutes, but…



…Anita is clearly asking for Backup, the recent Dresden Files novella by Jim Butcher, with a cover by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. One assumes that Anita has finally decided to see what it’s like when an occult investigator actually does stuff and has entertaining adventures, which would seem to be a step in the right direction.

6.4: Just a reminder, folks:



Given that this is a comic book, and the readers are perfectly capable of seeing Jean-Claude’s eyes and determining what he looks like ourselves–I’m going to go ahead and go with “an extremely pallid Criss Angel“–then the only reason this caption was included is because someone thought it was so good that the story would suffer without it.


7.2: Jean-Claude mentions here that he can “feel the street”–seriously, he says that–but Framingham leaves it unclear as to whether or not he can also feel it comin’ in the air tonight, oh lord. What we do know, however, is that a drum solo certainly would’ve livened up the six-page drive through Downtown St. Louis.


10.4: As a novel, The Laughing Corpse was originally released in 1994, which has led your humble annotator to believe that certain dialogue, like Anita’s line in this panel…



…could do with a bit of sprucing up:



11.4: Pffftahahahahaa!



Yeah, Anita, I don’t think that’s going to be much of a problem.


11.1: Anita, if you’ll remember, brought Jean-Claude along to the Red-Light District in the hopes that his intimidating presence would keep her from being harassed by the rabble. Jean-Claude, if you’ll recall, is wearing a frilly poet shirt open to the waist and a pair of thigh-high leather boots.



This is not, it would seem, a very menacing look. I mean, I think I could take that guy out, and in case you missed it, I’m a comics blogger. We’re not a very threatening bunch.


15.4: Okay, I’ve got to admit: This panel got a genuine, non-ironic chuckle out of me.



The prostitute in question is, of course, Wheelchair Wanda, the former girlfriend of The Big Lebowski Harold Gaynor that Anita’s been looking for for about eight issues now, for reasons that–as someone who has read every page of this series multiple times–I’m still not quite clear on.


16.2: Yeah, about this.



Don’t hold your breath, sweetheart.

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

Unless you were rocketed to Earth from the dying planet Krypton, chances are you’ve had the experience of removing a Band-Aid, and you’ll be familiar with the generally accepted wisdom that it’s better to just get it over with quickly rather than drawing out the process any longer than necessary. The anticipation of pain can often be worse than the experience itself.

In a related story, it’s been two months since the release of an issue of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book Two: Necromancer, which has apparently switched to a bimonthly schedule to draw out the suffering as long as possible better accommodate the rigorous demands of producing a comic where nothing ever happens. But when an issue does hit the shelves, you can rely on the ISB Research Department to step in to provide a scholarly examination of its many, many mysteries.

So please, grab your own copy and follow along!



0.0: According to the last-issue recap, the various non-events of the series thus far are “forcing Anita to go on the defensive.” If there’s a better summary of the driving action of this series than the events beyond her control leading our “heroine” to stand around waiting for further events beyond her control, then brother, I’d like to hear it.


1.1: As it turns out, the “Laughing Corpse” of the title is actually a comedy club:



Putting aside the fact that “The Laughing Corpse” would be a better name for a tavern where a hardy band of unlikely heroes are contracted to put an end to a local kobold infestation, this actually establishes a pattern, as the first series–Guilty Pleasures–was named after a vampire strip club. If the theme of naming her books after local drinking establishments holds up, I look forward to the next installment: Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The TGI Friday’s Down By the Airport.


2.2: Most comics make an attempt to hook the reader right from the start by throwing some Big Action into the first few pages. LJFsABVHLCB2N, however, takes a different route, so thrill as Anita bulldozes through any obstacle in her path with the ancient art… of politeness!



In future issues, brace yourself for the chilling action of Anita drinking eight to ten glasses of water every day and waiting an hour after eating before getting into the pool!


3.1: I’ve made something of a point of the fact that nothing ever happens in this comic, but just in case you thought I was exaggerating, I’d like to point out that Anita’s spent two and a half pages waiting in line at a club and asking to speak to the manager.

Two. And a half. Pages.


4.4-4.5: All right, at this point, I can’t even keep the veneer of faux-scholarship up, because of this nonsense:



In order to characterize Anita as the tough, no-nonsense heroine that she so desperately aspires to be, this scene shows Anita talking about how if she gets tired of waiting, why, she’s just going to march right in there and give that effete vampire a piece of her mind, which of course is met with a reaction of pure awe at her toughness from some minor character. Which is fine, except that–and I refer you to the point above–she doesn’t do that. What she does is sit around for another nine fucking pages waiting patiently for James from Team Rocket to pencil her into his busy schedule.

That is bullshit.

You can’t just tell your readers that someone is a total badass without actually having them do something to back it up every now and then. Otherwise, you’re just creating the impression that your main character is an all-talk pompous windbag that caves at the first sign of any actual pressure, which is actually completely supported by the evidence we’ve been given. It’s a cheat, and unless we’re meant to equate Anita with the fat kid from elementary school who talked about how he had eighteen black belts and could totally beat up anyone but went out like a punk to a Macho Man Randy Savage Elbow Drop from the jungle gym, this is not a good thing.

Moving on.


5.3-5.4: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… comedy:



Admittedly, I think this guy’s actually supposed to be a lousy comedian, but I think this is a very revealing scene, as it shows that since Jean-Claude has become the Vampire Master of St. Louis, the talent coordinator at the Laughing Corpse has been replaced by someone who totally sucks at his job.


6.6: And thus, our comedian discovers the advantage of using a ventriloquist dummy rather than a zombie in his act: Neither one is going to be funny, but there’s a decent enough chance that the dummy isn’t going to try to eat your flesh.

In either case, this is the scene depicted on the cover, where Anita leaps in to save the comedian by applying a chokehold to the zombie and physically wrenching him away from the victim. In the actual story, however, it goes a bit more like this:



Yep. She talks to it. And it stops.

Also of note, the fact that Anita’s narration offers a hasty, defensive explanation for why she actually did something instead of just sitting around.


8.2-8.3: As an annotator, it’s my job to point out bits of dialogue that can reveal something about the creators. In this case…

WILLIE: I never liked zombies.

ANITA: Are you afraid of zombies?


ANITA: You’re afraid of zombies. You’re phobic.

…we can learn that Laurenn J. Framingham owns a thesaurus. And possibly that she learned to write by reading The Super-Dictionary.


11.4: I have read every issue of the Anita Blake comics. God help me, I have read them multiple times, and written pretty extensively about each one.



I have no idea who this character is.





You know, I think we all need an “escort to the tenderloin” every now and again. Am I right, fellas?


12.7: Oh wait, he’s that dude who works at the bar. Way to create a memorable supporting cast!


14.2: Prepare for trouble



…and make it double.

Yes, after nine pages of sitting around his comedy club, Anita finally comes face to face with her sworn enemy, and then they start discussing art. Seriously, it’s an entire page of talking about the painting on the wall. That’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, folks. Ask for it by name.


16.1: Oh my God will you look at this guy.



Jean-Claude is wearing leather pants with thigh high leather boots on over them. If you saw this guy walking down the street, you could be late for your own wedding and you would still turn around to follow this guy for blocks until you could get a good shot with your camera phone.

16.2-16.3: Racking up another mark for Anita’s rep as the hardcore “Executioner” is this scene…



…where she can’t hold a conversation with her nemesis without getting distracted by his chalk-white pecs.


17.1: Oh my God.


18.3: They’re just going to talk to each other about nothing for the rest of the issue, aren’t they?


19.4: Yyyyyyyyyup.


20.2: zzz


21.4: zzz


22.6: zzzhuh? Oh, it’s ending? No, it’s okay. I’m up. Okay, what do we have here…


22.7: You know, with the lack of action pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point, you have to think that the Anita Blake series is succeeding on its other merits, like the strong characterization, dialogue and interplay…



…which in this case appears to be lifted directly from Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, circa 1957.


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

It’s been a few weeks since a new issue of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake comic has come across the desk here at the ISB Research Department, and as shocking as it is for me to admit it, I think I’ve actually missed having it around.

I believe this is what psychologists refer to as “Stockholm Syndrome.”

Alas, the brief reprieve is now over, and while the comics industry’s need for paranormal sex mysteries has already been filled by my own epic, The Chronicles of Solomon Stone, Anita Blake has returned for another round with a comic entitled–and I am serious–Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book Two: Necromancer #1.

Exactly why it needs a title of such alarming specificity is only one of the mysteries contained within, and so it’s time for the Research Department to take another crack at it! Grab your own copy and follow along!



0.0: In addition to the standard cover featuring Team Rocket’s Jean-Claude in all his wispy, sharp-chinned, pallid-as-a-bust-of-Pallas, poet-shirted “glory,” this issue of Anita Blake, like all Marvel comics this month, shipped with a special Wolverine variant:



Unlike the other Marvel books, however, this one also included the greatest cover blurb I have ever seen in my life:



You know, I’ve always thought it’d be easier to label the comics Wolverine doesn’t appear in, but I never thought they’d actually do it.


1.1: As ISB readers and fans of comics where absolutely nothing ever happens will no doubt be aware, this issue picks up right where the “cliffhanger” of the previous series left off. Why the quotes? Because while a zombie attack certainly qualifies as action, the tension is somewhat reduced when the zombie in question has lost both hands and most of its head.


1.3: The fact that it takes six policemen–or five policemen and what may in fact be Grant Morrison–to hold down zombie that has a grand total of zero hands, no teeth, and one leg may seem a little bizarre, until you recall that in the Anita Blake universe, the public trust is served by the Keystone Cops:



I guess this case is really gonna stump ’em, huh?

… Okay, I apologize for that. Moving on.


2.5: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Anita Blake.




All this, a mere two panels after a caption talking about how badly she wants to “crawl into someone’s lap and be comforted.”


3.2: And then she does laundry!



You know, that really is a lot more empowering than seeing her actually solving a mystery or extricating herself from a dangerous situation without being rescued by six men!


6.2-6.3: Okay, look. I’m not trying to overstep my bounds as an annotator by criticizing unnecessary dialogue or anything, but…



…what exactly is it about “I smelled corpses and it woke me up” requires further explanation? Especially considering that we, the readers, are already aware that Anita woke up when she smelled corpses, because it was in the last issue right there on the page. And yet, there’s an entire panel devoted to her clarifying her statement.

Actually, now that I think of it, why does this scene even exist at all? Is the thrill-a-minute intrigue of Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter giving the police her statement really more relevant to the plot than, oh, I don’t know, vampire hunting?


6.4: Apparently so, because after a caption where Anita says “I told Dolph everything,” she continues to give her statement for three motherfucking pages.


9.5: I’ve gotta admit: Anita’s expression in this panel did make me laugh. And I’m even pretty sure it was on purpose!



Shame about the penguins, though. They really tied the room together.


10.1: You know, I’ve had my differences with the writing in this comic before, but I’m honestly glad to live in a world where you can write a sentence like “if we could prove he had knowingly caused the zombie to go ape-shit” and still get published. Seriously.


12.6: In this scene, Anita lays around in a bed and makes phone calls!



Specifically, she’s calling Irving, the Male Pattern Baldness Werewolf that went off with Jean-Claude the Master Vampire last issue, thus prompting this series to be officially rechristened as Anita Blake: Some Girl Who Knows a Guy Who Hung Out This One Time With a Vampire.


13.4: Finally, after the thrill-a-minute excitement of this issue’s dynamic Making Coffee and Checking Into a Hotel scenes, Anita actually does something!

She goes jogging.

Oh well. It’s a start.







Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yeah. No kidding.


16.1: Huh. In this scene, Anita’s actually accosted by gun-toting thugs–which I think qualifies as something happening–and then she deals with them by being kind of tough and clever about it. It’s… confusing.

But not as confusing as what happens next.


18.3: Huh.



That’s someone whose last name is “Sims” doing something awfully close to kicking someone in the face, and that’s… kind of awesome? Definitely confusing. If only there was something that could get this back on track…


19.4.: Oh, here we go!



Assuming she’s quoting Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry–which seems like a safe bet, since she drops a ham-handed reference to the same last issue–that is not the line. And not only is she getting the “quote” wrong, she’s getting the quote wrong on a line that every single person in America knows by heart. In fact, it’s the kind of line that you’d have to actively work to get wrong, like if she said “Use the Force, Bruce” or “You want the facts? You can’t handle the facts!”

And that’s Anita Blake, folks: Actively working to get it wrong.

(And I think you just found your pullquote for the next trade!)

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #5


Yes, with this issue comes the end of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book One, and with it, the Research Department’s exhaustive and thorough annotations. And just between you and me, I’m actually relieved.

I mean really, when I think of the sheer amount of wonderment over how this got published intense study that goes into exploring these stories, the word “grueling” comes to mind. As do the words “Bataan,” “death,” and “march.”

But no matter, because after this one, it’s all over, right? So please, grab a copy of your own and follow along!



1.1: When we last left everyone’s fifth-favorite vampire hunter, she was in dire peril of doing something that didn’t involve just standing around when she was accosted by a restless spirit in a graveyard. Surely, this is going to be the event that finally leads to some action, five issues into the series. I mean, it’s not like she’s just going to just, I don’t know, stand around and wait for it to go away, right?


1.2 : Oh. My. God.



She seriously just stands there and ignores it until it goes away. And this was the cliffhanger that you closed the last issue with? Really? Seriously? What was the point of that?! I can’t… I don’t… But… Okay, that is it, Framingham. You and me are fuckin’ done, professionally. Moving on.


2.4: You know, I’m no expert on the horror genre or anything–aside from being the creator of The World’s Greatest Half-Vampire Private Detective Skateboard Champion, I mean–but really:



If you have to specify which zombie is the “killer zombie,” I’m pretty sure you’re doing it wrong.


3.1-2: In this sequence, Anita and Dolph are discussing Evans, a character that’ll make his appearance later on in the issue. Despite my initial hopes that the Evans in question would be Sharpay or Ryan Evans of the tween sensation High School Musical, it turns out that he’s actually a psychic. Or something.



The idea that Evans can be both “a flake” and good at his job might seem to be a contradiction, but keep in mind that since it’s Anita saying it, it’s actually pretty revealing about how she views her own job performance.


7.4: Holy buckets! Four issues after Anita met with the Big Lebowski, she finally gets around to meeting The Dude!



What’s next, an undead Walter Sobchak?





I could do this all day.


14.6: Thus ends another five-page sequence of Anita literally standing around while somebody else does the actual work. Although apparently this time…



…her steering wheel is at an appropriate temperature.


16.1: What the–?! Don’t look now, kids, but it looks like there’s actually stuff happening!



Admittedly, it’s a zombie attack and not the vampire hunting that we’ve been promised on the cover since day one, but heck: After 92 pages of jack-all happening in this book, I’m willing to take what I can get.


16.3: Okay, look: Your humble annotator doesn’t mean to nitpick here, but I have my doubts that you can actually blow someone’s arm off with a nine millimeter pistol.



Admittedly, my familiarity with firearms is limited to reading Punisher Armory and Gunsmith Cats, and I’ll admit that ballistics are a silly thing to get hung up on in a story about vampires and zombies. Or they would be, had the creative team not felt the need to explain it.

I mean, I’d be willing to accept Anita blowing off a zombie’s limbs with her pistol, no questions asked–I’ve certainly seen more ridiculous things in comic books, after all–but when you pause to offer an explanation, you draw attention to just how ridiculous you are, and it doesn’t hold up. Assuming that the “Glazer Safety Rounds” that Anita refers to in the previous panel are actually Glaser Safety Slugs, which are designed to fracture on impact for a reduced chance of penetrating a human target (or a wall, for that matter), the idea that you can actually make an “instant amputee” with a nine seems pretty unlikely. And after checking with that reliable source on all matters, The Internet, it looks like we can declare this myth busted.

Well, most of the time, anyway.


17.1-20.3: You know, I never thought I’d say it, but the scene where Anita’s just shooting zombies and not talking? Actually pretty good!


20.3: …right up until the part where the cops show up and Anita immediately decides to let someone else deal with the flesh-eating monsters that have been sent after her. Our Heroine, ladies and gentlemen.


22.5-22.6: Okay, to be fair, she actually does go back to fighting them after the mandatory standing-around-watching-someone-else-work and what might be the most labored Dirty Harry reference of all time, and we get what appears to be another cliffhanger:



Putting aside for the moment the fact that in order for this scene to have any tension whatsoever, we would have to have forgotten that she’s in a room with two armed police officers–who are on this page–just look at that thing. Anita’s already done her best Clarence Boddicker impression and blown off both its hand and most of its head. What’s the zombie gonna do, stump her to death?

Pretty weak for a cliffhanger, but just flat-out strange for an ending. And, I mean, this is the end, right? Last page of an issue with “5 of 5” on the cover, so I’m pretty sure we’re done he–



… Oh you are kidding me.

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #4

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.





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.

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #3

With two issues out on the stands that I’ve yet to get around to, it looks like I’ve fallen behind once again my goal to provide a clear, academic exploration of the myriad questions raised in the pages of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter comics. And to be honest, it’s mostly because I haven’t wanted to actually go back and re-read these things, because they are not very good that sort of research takes an awful lot of time.

After what I went through last week, though? Anita Blake oughtta be a walk in the park.

So please, grab a copy of your own and follow along as the award-winning* ISB Research Department tackles the mysteries of another issue of Anita Blake!



0.0: In this issue’s cover, artist Ron Lim has provided us with a striking image that not only calls to mind the classic “mother, maiden and crone” trichotomy and the Greek Moirae (or Fates), but also depicts a clear representation of the three most important elements of the Anita Blake saga thus far:



Sasha Fierce, Spider-Man’s kindly Aunt May, and Eddie from Iron Maiden.


1.1: When we last left Anita, she was hanging around in Aunt May’s basement asking questions for what felt like somewhere around thirty-six years. Sharp-eyed readers may note that despite what it might say on the cover, this is neither hunting nor particularly vampiric, but since it is in fact the most exciting thing to happen in the series so far, I guess it counts as a cliffhanger.




Aunt May never explains how to capture souls in a bottle, a procedure with which the Research Department is also sadly unfamiliar. For more information on how to catch Time in a Bottle, however, feel free to consult singer-songwriter Jim Croce.


2.3: For those of you who were running a betting pool, it’s exactly two pages, three panels into the third issue that necrophiliac sex slavery becomes a plot point:





2.7: In this panel, it’s revealed that Aunt May took money from the families of her Zuvembi Prostitutes to do that voodoo that she do because, and I quote, “It is illegal to tamper with dead bodies without permission of the family.” So, to review: Digging up a corpse and chopping off a chicken’s head with a machete to bring it back to life without a signed permission slip? Against the law. Selling sentient rotting corpses as sex slaves? That’s apparently just fine.


4.1: In this panel, we’re reminded in a caption that “White Goat” is a euphemism for “human sacrifice.” You know, just in case you forgot from when it was explained in the last issue, or if you couldn’t infer the meaning for yourself four panels later when Anita spells it out for the third time. Anita Blake: For the Urban Fantasy Reader with the Memory of a Goldfish!


4.4.: Hey Anita! Which one of the fake trailers from Grindhouse was your favorite?



That’s funny, I would’ve pegged you as a Machete fan.


5.1 – 7.3: Over the course of the next few pages, Anita and Aunt May snipe at each other verbally, with Anita heroically threatening to shoot an old lady, and the septugenarian in question threatening to strike back. And judging from the way she calls Anita “chica” seven times in eight pages, we can only assume that her response will involve her long-standing tag-team partner Kevin Nash, and perhaps the rest of the nWo.


7.4: If I may be allowed to overstep my position as a humble annotator for a moment, I’ve got to say that this issue of LJF’s ABVHLC: B1 is a little confusing, specifically as it treats Aunt May, who seems a little out of character. As a solution, I’d suggest that the creative team took a few steps to tie it in a little closer to the core Marvel Brand:



9.1: One of the primary rules of visual storytelling is “show, don’t tell,” although judging from the steering wheel scene last issue, it’s one that the world of Anita Blake has long since abandoned. Still, this scene, in which Anita, Manny, and Manny’s Moustache are harried by an unseen creature in the shadows of Aunt May’s basement, makes for a refreshing change of pace, as we’re neither shown nor told what the hell’s going on.


12.7: Hey, remember Harold Gaynor, the wheelchair-bound fetishist from the first issue? Well, he’s continuing his harassment of Anita by proxy, assigning one of his bodyguards to give her a stern talking-to. And just to prove he’s serious, he sent the guy who used to model for Rob Liefeld’s Captain America:



13.1: And once more for the full effect:



15.1: In this scene, Anita goes to a funeral. Because that’s what this book needs more of: Anita standing around not hunting vampires.


18.2: According to the dialogue, Anita’s supposed to be wearing coveralls in this scene, but if you ask me…



…that is totally a blue Adidas tracks suit. And I’ll tell you right now: If this book suddenly became about Anita resurrecting the spirits of Turbo and Ozone so that she could stop Harold Gaynor from demolishing the rec center and replacing it with a Zombie Sex Factory with the power of breakdancing, it would suddenly become one of the best comics ever.

Seriously, Marvel. Call me.


22.: Oh yeah, this guy?



That guy is totally not making it out of the series alive.

He’s one of the lucky ones.

The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #2

Criminy, is it that time again already?

Apparently so. The dawn of a new month means that we’ve got the release of another issue bearing down on us, which in turn means that the Research Department has fallen behind on its appointed task yet again. But really: Can you blame me?

But don’t worry, knowledge-seekers! Tonight, we head down to the archives with a copy of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book One #2 in an effort to heap mockery and scorn illuminate the mysteries of the printed page once again!

Grab your own copy and follow along!



0.0: A couple of recent comics ran this ad for Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Welcome to the Junglenow available in hardcover!–in which your humble annotator was quoted:



And yet, they misspelled my name, giving me the commonly mistaken double-M instead of the lean, single-M version I’ve been saddled with for the past 26 years. What’s this got to do with Anita Blake? Well, besides functioning as a sort of control group by proving there’s an urban fantasy comic out there that I actually like, it turns out that the ad was designed by Bill Tortolini, who letters the Anita Blake comics.

Could this slight against my name be retribution for the allegedly insulting tone of my annotations? Is it the start of a secret “dis war” between the creative team and me that could only be settled in a freestyle rap battle?!

Well, no. Bill’s actually a really nice guy and a consummate professional, which I know because he keeps refusing to swap out Anita’s dialogue for lyrics from Old Dirty Bastard’s Return To The 36 Chambers. Oh well.


1.1: For those of you just joining us, here’s a little something to catch you up:



A pretty accurate summary of the events thus far. Except that I’m not sure if we’ve seen Anita raise a zombie, although we have seen her refuse to do so for money (which would, in fact, be her job), and while she did kill some vampires in the last twelve-issue series, it took her about eleven issues to actually get around to it. Other than that, though, spot-on.


1.3: You know, I haven’t said much about the coloring on this book since Anita finally recovered from her albinism sometime in the middle of the first series, but assuming that everything’s supposed to look this way…



…I can only assume that everyone in the series thus far is either a) the victim of a severe head cold, b) extremely jolly, or c) on their fifth Rum & Coke of the morning.

Hey, Rum & Coke… that’d make this go a little fast–no! It’s far too early for that kind of talk. Probably best to just move on.


2.3: Dolph says that he sometimes forgets Anita’s “not one of the boys,” which I imagine is a little harder now than it was before artist Ron Lim decided to slim down Anita’s thighs by moving that extra weight up to her chest. Hot-cha!


2.1: In this scene, Anita examines another half-eaten body, and you know what? Forget about chasing down and fighting vampires and other evil creatures, getting into trouble and pulling off daring escapes with her burgeoning super-powers! What I really want to see is some Crime Scene Investigation, because there’s just not enough of that in pop culture today! Bring on the six pages of wandering around somebody’s house swapping quips with a monosyllabic cop–a scene continued from the last issue–because that is exactly what I’d like to see in a book with the words “Vampire Hunter” in the title.


4.1: See?



I told you it’d work better.


4.5: You know, when the characters in the book itself start standing around discussing the weather…



…then keeping the readers interested in the story might be a problem.




I don’t know about you guys, but the phrase “voodoo priest for the entire midwest” just cracks me up. I mean first of all, what, is Baron Samedi appointing regional managers now? And second, really? The entire Midwest? Wow, that’s impressive. I’m sure being the number one source of juju in Peoria, Illinois is a real accomplishment there, sport.


6.6: There’s an old rule of editing that I’m sure comes in handy when you’re trying to adapt something for comics that says if a piece doesn’t advance the plot or reveal character, then cut it out. That said…



…I’m looking forward to seeing Anita defeat her enemies by using a hot steering wheel. Otherwise, there’d be no reason to devote both a caption and the art in the panel to referencing it, and that would just be crazy.


9.1: Hey everybody, it’s Manny! Those of you who were with us for The First Death might recall that Manny Rodriguez, as well as being Anita’s own personal Murtaugh, is also her mentor in the vampire-slaying biz. He is not, however, to be confused with Manny Santos, the often-misguided student of Degrassi Community School who was humiliated by Peter when he sent out a video of her drunken escapades at a party that one time.



10.3: Also of note about Manny?





13.1: At last, it is revealed: The most powerful voodoo priestess in the entire Midwest is, in fact…



Spider-Man’s kindly Aunt May?!

Well, I guess that does make sense, sort of. She’s had an unreasonably long life, and as we all learned from Empowered, the targets of deals with the devil can often end up with an great amount of power themselves. And with great power… well, you know where I’m going with this.


16.2: Wait, why is Aunt May making Anita play with chicken bones?


18.6: And why is she talking like Razor Ramon?


19.1 PROTIP: When you’re going to call something “indescribable”…



…don’t spend the paragraph before that describing it.

Just a thought.