The Annotated Anita Blake: The First Death #1

Now that the Harry Potter books have come to their inevitable conclusion, an entire legion of readers is no doubt searching for the next great piece of contemporary fantasy literature to fill the nagging void in their lives. And odds are, it’s probably not going to be the comic book adaptation of Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter.

It will, however, be The Chronicles of Solomon Stone, but that’s not really the point. What matters tonight is that during the inexplicable hiatus of the twelve-issue adaptation of Guilty Pleasures, Marvel and Dabel Brothers are releasing an all-new two-issue mini-series that fills in some of the gaps in the popular character’s backstory.

As for me, well, I was shocked to find out that Anita even had a backstory, but that doesn’t mean that The First Death is any less worthy of the mockery and scorn scholarly examination that you’ve no doubt come to expect, which means that it’s time once again for another round of Annotations for everyone’s fifth-favorite vampire hunter!

Grab your own copy and follow along!



1.1: Unlike Guilty Pleasures which is pencilled by Bret Booth, The First Death features the art of newcomer Wellington Alves. You know, I never thought I’d say it, but without a head of hair that looks like a brain-devouring Metroid and the thighs of a dromedary camel, Anita just looks weird.


1.3: Hey Anita! Staring Contest!



Damn! You win again, Anita. You always do.


2.1: According to Officer Zebrowski, who made his first comics appearance in the pages of the Anita Blake Hardcover, the sight of a grisly murder scene has made Anita “a little pale around the edges.” Anita? Pale? That’s funny, I hadn’t noticed.





Huh. Never thought I’d read that in a Marvel comic.


6.2-6.4: Unlike Guilty Pleasures, which is an adaptation of existing material, The First Death is actually a new story for comics written by Laurell K. Hamilton and Jonothon Green. So for those of you wondering what kind of chops it takes to succeed in the world of the written word, allow me to present the following:



10.4: And now, another testament to the accute observational talents of the police in Anita’s world:



Gee, Dolph, I don’t know. Maybe, just maybe it’s the guy who looks like James Marsters in the jacket from Beat It.


11.4: In this panel, five of the Keystone Kops–sorry, St. Louis Police–have their pistols aimed at one vampire who is standing nonchalantly with his hands in his pockets, having made no threatening move whatsoever. This may seem extreme, but keep in mind that in the world of Anita Blake, Vampires are super-strong, sexually overpowering, have the ability to control minds, and, to quote Hamilton herself, “are as powerful as ten Voldemorts.” Seriously, it’s in the handbook.





Oh great. A vampire stripper.





… Okay, that tears it. I have got to stop reading these things.


13.4: Were I a lesser academic, I’d be tempted to point out the amazing potential of the following panel, as well as suggesting that those of you with popular image-editing software could put it to more hilarious uses:



But that, of course, would be beneath us here at the ISB.


18.1: Vampire Strippers? This is madness!




18.2: At last, it can be told: This panel features the historic first meeting of Anita and Jean-Claude:



As those of you who were here for our little chats on the previous installments of the series know, Jean-Claude–whose interests include both protecting the world from devastation and uniting all peoples within our nation–will go on to become a major player in the series, giving Anita super-powers, punching out a little girl, and generally making a nuisance of himself.


22.7: While trying to figure out how she can continue her investigation without tipping her hand to the vampires, Anita’s internal monologue informs us that, as she says, “I don’t do subtle.” Considering that she’s sitting in the champagne room of a vampire strip club on a couch next to a vampire in leather pants and a poet shirt who is so egregiously French that he ends his sentences with Claremontean pet names, I’m pretty sure “subtlety” was the last thing anybody was expecting here.


25.3: No, friends, your eyes do not decieve you: This scene involves Anita Blake using her martial arts skills to wrestle a grieving mother to the pavement. Our Heroine, ladies and gentlemen.


25.6: Useful Facts About Vampires #138:



After living among the source of the Spice, their eyes too will take on the blue-within-blue cast of the Fremen.


29.4: Sweet Christmas, this comic is long.


33.4: Seriously, Anita? Seriously?



And here I thought that a Kiss was the name for a group of moderately talented musicians who desperately cling to fame long after they’ve worn out their welcome from all but an extremely gullible core of die-hard fans. Oh well, you find out something new every day, I guess.



No. Not really.

The Annotated Anita Blake: Vampire Victim

As frequent readers of the ISB may recall from my discussion of it Friday night, last week saw the release of Marvel and Dabel Brothers’ first hardcover collection of their comic book adaptation of Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures.

In addition to an actual, honest-to-God quote from yours truly on the dust jacket, the hardcover collects the first six issues of the series. I have, of course, already handled those with my highly dubious annotations, but there is the added attraction of a new nine-page story by Laurell K. Hamilton, Jonothon Green, and our old pal Brett Booth that raises its own particular brand of questions.

Thus, in keeping with my goal of providing the Internet’s most meanspirited comprehensive examinations of everyone’s favorite bowlegged enemy of the supernatural, that’s what’s on the chopping block for tonight’s entry into The Annotated Anita Blake. Grab your own copy and follow along!



1.1: The opening caption for this series states that “Once upon a time, you could kill a vampire on sight.”



As more astute readers will no doubt expect, however, the original caption, edited for length, was “Once upon a time, you could tear ass through a mini-mall firing wildly into a crowd of pedestrians and expect to be congratulated for your efforts by a pair of extremely gregarious, mildly suggestive police officers.” See also: 1.5.


1.4: Someone please, please tell me that Sausage on a Stick is a recurring motif in the Anita Blake universe.



Because seriously, if it is? My jokes about Jean-Claude just got a whole lot easier to make.


1.5: Scabbers and Crabman:



Together, they fight crime.


2.1: For those of you who weren’t able to piece it together from the 47 times it was mentioned over the course of the series thus far, this scene contains an explanation of Addison v. Clarke, the landmark Supreme Court case that caused the soulless undead to be recognized as citizens under US law. One can only assume that the ruling was delivered with the same amont of dignity and respect as the “Bong Hits For Jesus” case.


2.3: LOST: One Vampire Hunter. Answers to “Spot.”



Last seen being led off by Officer Cary Elwes, SLPD.


3.6: So, how dumb are the cops in the grim and terrible world of Anita Blake?



So dumb that Anita has to inform them that Vampires like the taste of blood. Wow. Just… wow.


4.7: And here we have Anita, whose fashion sense is so acute that she is only seen wearing articles of clothing featuring vampire penguins and allegedly “clever” sayings, sporting a leather jacket that is at least 40% fringe:



Add that to her swirling, impenetrable mass of hair, and I’m pretty sure that Anita’s a full-time zombie re-animator, part-time vampire hunter, and long-time guitarist for Guns ‘n’ Roses.


5.1-2: These panels contain the first mention in the comics of the Regional Preturnatural Team, which is occasionally referred to by the police as “RIP” despite the fact that acronyms don’t actually work that way. I mean really, you can’t just add and subtract letters at random to make it sound cooler, and if you do, you probably shouldn’t draw attention to it by making it the punchline to what I can only assume was supposed to be a joke.


6.2-6: Yeah, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in this sequence.



Hell, I’m not even sure if that second panel’s right-side up.


7.2: This is the first appearance of Dolph, who is not to be confused with Soviet pugilist Dolph Lundgren, whose brutal in-ring murder of Apollo Creed shocked a nation into action in 1985. Rather, Dolph and his partner Zerbrowski seem like the Riggs and Murtaugh of the supernatural set, with one notable exception:



Dolph is roughly nine feet tall. Also, considering that he brings in the perp responsible for the murder that Anita’s been trying to solve within three panels of his existence, his main plot function seems to be pointing out how ineffective and completely unnecessary the actual heroine of the story really is. That’s, uh, probably not such a good idea.

Just sayin’.





This page would’ve been perfect if everybody jumped up for a high five right before the credits started to roll.