The Annotated Anita Blake: The First Death #2

In the four months since the last Anita Blake comic hit the stands, things have been looking pretty grim for the Research Department here at the ISB, and to be honest, I was starting to worry that in Anita’s absence, overwhelming desire to provide you with the best in literary criticism was going to lead to something truly horrible, like, say, The Annotated Witchblade Takeru Manga or–God help us all–The Annotated Ant.

Fortunately for us all, I don’t think that’s going to be necessary.

Yes, Halloween saw the release of the second (and final) issue of The First Death, an original mini-series for comics written by Mr. and Mrs. Laurell K. Hamilton designed to fill in questions that I’m reasonably certain nobody was asking about everyone’s fifth-favorite vampire hunter and her assorted hangers-on.

Of course, such answers are bound to raise new questions. And that’s where I come in with another installment of handy explanations and annotations for this allegedly thrilling installment of the Anita Blake saga!

Grab a copy of your own and follow along!



0.0: Like all Marvel comics that came out in October, The First Death shipped with a “Marvel Zombies” variant that’s worth noting for a couple of reasons.

First, the variant was pencilled by Ron Lim, the artist replacing Brett Booth on the upcoming second half of Guilty Pleasures. Comics readers will probably remember Lim from both a long run on Silver Surfer and his work on the best Marvel crossover ever, which ensures that his work on the Anita Blake titles will appeal to fans of both vampire-based erotica and the concept of schadenfreude.

Secondly, whereas the rest of the zombie variants depict the lead characters as zombies, this one misses the point pretty broadly by showing your standard-issue Anita Blake (alive, well, and pallid) squaring off against a bunch of zombified Marvel characters, including a Namor that’s apparently been thrown in for good measure. Still, it does make a certain sense: Despite the fact that it took the Marvel Zombies about a half hour to polish off Galactus, one can safely assume that Anita’s thighs alone would keep them going for days.


0.1: In a move that’ll pretty much set the tone for the rest of the issue, the recap page has the captions beneath Dolph and Zerbrowski’s pictures switched. So seriously guys, if you can’t keep the characters’ names straight in this thing, I don’t see any reason why I ought to.

Oh well. At least the interiors’ll be a little better, right?





Ah. That’s a “no,” then.

Still, it’s nice of them to clarify that what is commonly referred to as “grey matter” is, in fact, Bazooka Joe Chewing Gum.


2.1: And now, your humble annotator attempts to pass off an intense scrutiny of Gunsmith Cats as actual knowledge of firearms:



Clearly, Anita’s handgun has been modified in order to help her in her never-ending battles with the Undead. To be fair, though, I’m not exactly sure what she’s hoping to accomplish with a gun that can eject shells on both sides.


2.4: At first, this panel gives the impression that Anita is either absolutely fascinated by Dolph’s cufflinks or physically incapable of having a conversation while actually looking directly at another person.



If you look at it for more than a couple of minutes, though–and let’s be honest here, I’m the only one who’s going to be doing that–you realize that she’s actually staring at us.


3.2: Staring… into our very souls



…Whoa! Sorry. Got caught up in this issue’s breakneck action. Probably best to be moving on.


6.5: While checking out a nest of vampires, Anita’s mentor and fellow vampire hunter Manny mentions getting home to see his wife and kids…



…thus ensuring that he’ll be tortured half to death by the end of the issue. Rejected dialogue for this panel included Manny revealing that he was both “too old for this shit” and “only one day from retirement.”


7.4: This one probably speaks for itself.



I would like to point out, however, that yes, ladies: He’s a two-ballooner.


9.3: Despite the evidence offered up by Anita and her sub-Rowsdower compatriots Dolph and Zerbrowski, Hamilton takes this opportunity to remind us that not everyone in the world of the story is amazingly incompetent at their chosen career. Her boss for instance has an amazing gift for public relations, as evidenced by the fact that he managed to spin some “great publicity” from a scene in the last issue where Anita judo-throws a grieving mother, and–HOLY CRAP HE’S A C.H.U.D.!



10.3: Chronologically speaking, this panel marks the first appearance of alleged “master assassin” Edward, who, unlike Anita’s boss, manages to be reasonably good at his job and appear fully human. He does, however, have a penchant for rolling around St. Louis wearing kneepads with a handgun sticking out of his coat.

Also, it’s worth noting that while he is always depicted as wearing sunglasses–even while riding in a car, at night–they never actually cover his eyes. Seriously, Wellinton Alves. What’s the damn point?


12.3 – 13.5: In a scene sure to qualify as a treat for Anita Blake enthusiasts, these pages show her actually engaging in her “day job”–which invariably occurs at night–of raising corpses from the dead as zombies. You might have noticed that there’s no picture accompanying this entry, and that would be because these are unquestionably the most boring two pages featuring a machete that I’ve seen in 19 years reading comics.


14.3: Hey Anita! Do your impression of me when I realized I still had twenty-two more pages of this!






And indeed he does. Several, in fact, as evidenced by this comprehensive list:

  • Corey Hart
  • Punjab
  • Pinky Tuscadero
  • The Bisquick Bandit
  • El Duderino
  • The Nudge
  • Ol’ Tom Halloway
  • Scissorpants
  • Wesley Crushing
  • Teddy Suxpin
  • And of course,

  • Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans

Sadly, Hamilton goes instead with “Death,” the self-conferred nickname Edward shares with about a thousand teenage MySpace users. It’s a real shame, because seriously: The story behind “Scissorpants” is a goldmine.


19.2: Here’s an interesting fact for those of you who haven’t completed Kindergarten:



Chickens do not make the sound “bwak bwak.” In fact, there is nothing in nature that makes the sound “bwak bwak,” except for maybe that adorable duck that sells insurance.


20.1: Okay look, I hate to be a stickler for accuracy in a comic about, y’know, vampires, but if I knew I was going to have to chop somebody’s head off, a machete would not be my first choice. Unless, of course, it was this Machete, in which case head-chopping would undoubtedly be the least of it.

Still, you’d think she’d go for an axe or something that would allow the weight of the instrument to do the work quickly, rather than taking four fucking panels to finish it up. It’s called “pacing,” folks, and when even the characters in the book are getting bored, you might need to consider a re-write.


23.1 – 26.1: In what has got to be the most boring sequence since… well, since page twelve, I guess, Anita forgets that she’s our de facto protagonist and ends up blundering into a trap in what can only be described as the worst basement rec room in the history of fiction:



Of course, quicker than you can say “William Moulton Marston,” Anita ends up chained to the wall while Manny gets beaten with a chairl leg, and the secret origin of the cross-shaped burn on her arm is finally revealed: It, uh, gets burned there by some guys who like vampires. Which I’m pretty sure she said back in Guilty Pleasures.

So, That was necessary. I guess.


26.4: It’s the fight you’ve all been waiting for!



Anita Blake vs. Jean Grey circa Uncanny X-Men #134!


30.1: Oh come on.



When the dialogue in question is “From behind, I can pretend that you’re a boy,” is it really necessary to infer the meaning behind it, Anita?

And while we’re at it, is it really all that great for our alleged heroine to survive purely on luck until her far more competent male counterpart shows up to rescue everybody and kill the bad guys? Really?




Yeah, me either. Good call, Scissorpants.

46 thoughts on “The Annotated Anita Blake: The First Death #2

  1. When the dialogue in question is “From behind, I can pretend that you’re a boy,” is it really necessary to infer the meaning behind it, Anita?

    A boy with curves and HUGE THIGHS. I’ve seen a million boys like that, yes.

  2. This was a really good post, and then I came upon the Rowsdower comment, and my head a-spolded from the awesome. Nice job.

  3. Hey Chris! You better keep Corey Hart outta this! OR ELSE!

    (Other than that, goddamn that was funny. And informative.)

  4. How is it that these things still sell? I mean, God, Ant/man had better writing and that was canceled after 6 issues?

  5. I assume the coffins are for smuggling counterfeit Pokemon cards or something, since to actually put a person inside them would require removing said corpse’s arms and shoulders first.

    “Paul, maybe we’d sell more coffins if we made them wider.”

    “No! My dream was to specialize in thresher-accident funerals and I’m not going to compromise that just for a few lousy bucks!”

  6. The sad thing is that even as I type this, the publishers are scouring this review for another cover blurb.

    Me, I vote “…sure to qualify as a treat for Anita Blake enthusiasts…”. In fact, that’s pretty much their only option.

  7. I’m always scouring different media to see if St. Louis shows up. And then I find Anita Blake and I get really sad. But I think I’m starting to understand why St. Louis was voted the most dangerous city last year (HINT: it was probably because of her thighs).

  8. I wonder if there’s someone out there who’s nicknamed his sexual organs “Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans.”

    Because you know there’s someone who’s done that.

    I’m not going to push this point.

    Great annotations!

  9. A little warning that the “Machete” clip on youtube is NSFW might have been nice.

    I’m just sayin’…

    And what’s with that damn piece of hair down Anita’s face? Is the artist trying to cash in on the Emo fad?

  10. Joe – I was going to say that it’s not hair, but a tattoo of hair on her face. That’s how it stays so perfectly still all the time. But the one scene has her face perfectly clear, so who knows.

    I’m pretty sure that those are NOT coffins, but longboxes of unsold Anita Blake comics.

    BTW – why the heck do a horde of vampires need firearms?

  11. I’d just like to note something you may have missed on 1.1-1.3… Aside from the pathetically gummy-esque quality of brain matter, in the first frame, the gun is pointed at the left side of blondie’s head. After it fires, the _right_ half of his skull has gone walkabout. I can only infer that the “artist” responsible for this was left-handed, and couldn’t see frame 1 while drawing frame 3, because there’s no other viable excuse for dropping continuity when your reference material is two fucking inches to the left.

    Except maybe that he’s a talentless brain-dead hack. Yeah, that’s it.

  12. Now, as much as this issue seems to have a plethora of hackery going on, the exit wound of a gunshot is going to be the larger wound.

  13. “Crap.”?? That’s her response to seeing a naked guy strung up like a chicken? Of course, I couldn’t come up with much more to say after every page of this godforsaken piece of… crap.

    And someone PLEASE cut off that damn piece of hair!!

    Though I will confess, I do look forward to every upcoming issue… if only because I know Chris will do a hilarious annotation of it. Thanks, Chris. I think.

  14. “Was he confessing to what I thought he was confessing to?… that he’s a homosexual? I thought they existed only in legends!”
    Also; “AHH! Crap! a v-v-vampire! zoips”
    Worst. Incompetently-Hyper-Sexualized Alabaster Buffy Stand-In. Ever!

  15. Oh, how tasteful; have the female protagonist get captured by a bunch of creepy fetishists and threatened with rape, and then bring in a Big, Strong Man to save her!

    I have trouble believing that this crap is actually written by a female, gods.

    Awesome recap, though! My life would not have been complete without this.

  16. Isn’t this more or less the same basic cliffhanger faux-Buffy stumbled into in the LAST issue of this comic you reviewed? Surely the popularity of this character is the result of some kind of faustian pact? That’s the only way I can rationalize it.

  17. A little warning that the “Machete” clip on youtube is NSFW might have been nice.

    What are you doing reading comics blogs at work anyway, mister?

  18. None of the zombie covers really wow me, I guess I just think it’s a really played out gag. But for the first time, I think Anita Blake had a unique chance to do something clever with a concept that was right in its wheelhouse. The cover is nicely executed, but dull, and unimaginative to the point of laziness. I’m used to this comic being a juggernaut of hilarious awfulness, but is this the first chink in its armor, the first sign that it’s becoming boringly awful?

  19. I wonder if there’s someone out there who’s nicknamed his sexual organs “Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans.”

    I don’t see why not. I mean, I refer to mine as “IT! The Living Colossus!”

  20. Based on Anita’s use of “Ahh! Crap!”, her voice in my head is now like some kind of combination of a satirized Lucille Ball voice and Harvey Firestein.

  21. Owesome – heheheheh. That was a little unsettling. I thought I was up on all of Kevin Howarth’s work, but I thought wrong.

    Two interesting subjects from posts about this film on the IMDB message board: “Worth remaking with real actors” and “Can someone explain the ending…” I’d say that this makes it a good fit for an Anita Blake thread.

  22. I suppose it’s only fair, since I refer to mine as “The Invincible Super-Log”.

  23. It just occurred to me.

    I would never buy an actual Anita Blake comic.

    But I would TOTALLY buy an Annotated Anita Blake comic. And I probably speak for everyone here.

    You here that, Marvel!?!?

  24. Buffy, Blade, Van Helsing, the kids from ‘Lost Boys’…fifth favorite might be a bit high, actually.

  25. Buffy, Blade, Van Helsing, the kids from ‘Lost Boys’…fifth favorite might be a bit high, actually.

    Actually, it’s “Buffy, Blade, Van Helsing, JESUS CHRIST, the kids from ‘Lost Boys’…”

  26. Actually, it’s “Buffy, Blade, Van Helsing, JESUS CHRIST, the kids from ‘Lost Boys’…”

    Oh Good I thought I was the only person who had sat through ‘Jeasus Christ Vampier Hunter’

    So terrible it was brilliant, it had four of us spell bound, like a terrible accident you did not want to watch but you could not look away…

  27. I’ve heard the Anita Blake books suck (sorry about clichéd pun), so it comes to no surprise that the comic does too.

    Your running commentary is gold, however. Love the speech balloons covering the dead guy’s shame.

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