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.
I have taken one thing away from your comments tonight.
Clearly, you do not love pudding enough.
That said, Iâ€™m not curious enough to actually go read the original novel and find out, so letâ€™s move on.
Don’t, other’s have gone through it, you’ve suffered enough.
… though I do recall things seemed more active in the book, but first person does make things seem more exciting than they really are I suppose…
Your instincts serve you well on the matter of minced oaths. On the other hand, your instincts lead you, after three years, to keep reading Anita Blake. So that’s probably a tie.
I wonder if, in another world, the fact that everything happens off-camera could be used to create a claustrophobic atmosphere. Like, no disrespect to Ron Lim, he’s really improved the art here, but if you got in the time machine and got Johnny Craig to do it, I wonder if he could make this material any better.
I like that they’re sitting on the couch, and pointedly not looking at Evil Aunt May.
Were they hoping to get a confession using the silent treatment?
Maybe Anita fell asleep, and the zombie wandered away in the meantime?
The CSI: Miami reference is my favorite.
Sadly, I can confirm that the words were in fact their proper potty language counterparts in the original novel. It was at about that point in the novel that I realized this series was crap and never read another one.
I’m just curious about this: if Marvel is unwilling to even have the characters drop an occasional F-bomb, what are they going to do when they get to the hardcore pornography starting in book 5 or so. Not that I suppose it matters for awhile as the current writing style guarantees that won’t happen to sometime in 2014.
Nick: It happens off panel.
2014 Nick? This is BOOK TWO. The hardcore porn doesn’t really hit until Nacrissus in Chains. Thats Book Ten. Given the current pacing Sims will be eligible for medicare before then…
Somewhere there is an alternate world where the words “Dispatch War Rocket Ajax… to bring me Laurenn J. Framingham!” will appear on this site, and it is the best of all possible worlds.
Something’s been nagging me about the Anita Blake panels ever since Chris valiantly began reading this “Comic About Nothing”… something I couldn’t quite put my finger on…
…but finally I get it — it must be some kind of super-subtle in-joke. This:
The comic uses coloring and lighting exactly like the old a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Tintin”>Tintin books.
In Tintin, all colors are always in perfect harmony. The characters’ faces are never set in sharp contrast by “dramatic lighting”. The overall effect is to defuse tension and make the reader feel very comfortable.
In other words, the exact opposite of horror.
The in-joke seems to be made by the Anita Blake colorist: “The tension and blood-curdling horror equals that other famous comic Tintin, Vampire Hunter!”
Except, of course, that Tintin comics (unlike Anita Blake) contain truckloads of plot, tension, thrills, humor, action and excitement…
2014 Nick? This is BOOK TWO. The hardcore porn doesnâ€™t really hit until Nacrissus in Chains. Thats Book Ten. Given the current pacing Sims will be eligible for medicare before thenâ€¦
Really? I coulda sworn it started sooner.
Well, at least he’ll have some dirty mags in the retirement home, eh?
Sims can only be eligible for Medicare once he gets the proper forms from the doctor proper, Dr. Unger.
Watching Bob Ross paint is entertaining. Reading Anita Blake, on the other hand, is like hanging around after Bob leaves and watching the canvas dry.
On a slightly tengential note, based on A.R. Yngve’s post, I’d pay ten bucks to see Tintin, the Vampire Hunter in theaters.
Someday, I will have a story where Brother Voodoo explains the difference between zombies and zuvembies. I am just that pathetic. :)
You know, a GI Joe comic featuring Zombie Cobra Commander would be ABSOLUTELY AWESOME. Can we get Warren Ellis to write it?
Anita first has sex in The Killing Dance, with Jean Claude in a tub of dirty water and werewolf goo. She has it again with Richard in Blue Moon two books later after challenging an entire werewolf pack to rape her if they can catch her. That’s books six and eight. Book nine has no sex, but Framingham contrives to show at least half the new characters’s penises. Scarily the largest drop in the quality of the books starts with book ten. So if you thought they were bad now…
So the large drop in quality comes *after* the book where the main character challenges an entire werewolf pack to rape her if they can catch her? Oy.
after challenging an entire werewolf pack to rape her if they can catch her.
The mind of Laurenn J. Framingham is a twisted, unsettling place.
Also, I am certain I will regret saying anything, but…”werewolf goo”? What the !@#$?
So I have a theory that Anita Blake is not an actual person. Instead, the SLPD keeps a RealDoll at the station and they think it’s funny to bring it along on investigations. Then they pose it on couches and see if anyone complains.
Sometimes it looks like “Anita” is delivering dialogue. That’s Officer Tinycam standing behind her. He didn’t refill the coffee pot at the station and now he has to spend a week doing the voices.
The mind of Laurenn J. Framingham is a twisted, unsettling place.
And I thought Anne Rice was fucked up.
@Venger: Yeah but its just the normal parnormal/urban fantasy/horror genre sex. The Size Queen/harem fetish stuff doesn’t really get going until book 10…
@David: Shapeshifters leave some kind of slimy muck behind when they change forms. To be fair I don’t think LKH is the only one to use that concept…
Don’t forget that “Blue Moon”, aside from being the book with the female-empowering “Rape me if you can!” wolfpack challenge, is also the book where a female villain masturbates a hostage preteen boy on live video feed while Anita watches. Laurenn J. Framingham is even sicker than you thought.
I’ve heard of unintentional comedy, but I think this is the first thing I’ve seen that is unintentionally terrifying.
Seriously, there’s someone out there who is unironically entertained by this stuff.
Heh. I thought this book was good once, but the comic..nothing happens slowly..it’s almost zen-like. What’s the sound of one zombie falling asleep while Anita takes a nap?
Donâ€™t forget that â€œBlue Moonâ€, aside from being the book with the female-empowering â€œRape me if you can!â€ wolfpack challenge, is also the book where a female villain masturbates a hostage preteen boy on live video feed while Anita watches. Laurenn J. Framingham is even sicker than you thought.
Isn’t that “Obsidian Butterfly”? I think you’re a book off with that one. Not that it makes it any less insane, since I believe she then sleeps with said boy a few books after that.
Just a note to some of the commenters above: the author of the book is Laurell K. Hamilton. And yes, she is a sick fuck. Isn’t it going to be fun when we get to the point in the books were she rapes an abused submissive because apparently thats going to help him feel better? Lots of fun!
This can’t be real, these panels are doctored somehow… no, I don’t believe you.
@Sokudo – you mean Anita, not the female villian, has sex with the underage kid?
Also, you can’t forget the vampires who want to have sex while rotting as Anita watches them. I think that’s book 5.
Not to forget the werewolf who makes porn and tried to get Anita to star in one of her snuff films in book 4.
@S. Yes, we know her real name. This one is more entertaining.
On Halloween I had a real fright. Went to the comic shop days late to pick up Guardians of the Galaxy and Hercules from my box there. GotG was there but next to it was Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book Three: Executioner… Staring at me. Taunting me. Laughing at me as my screams of terror echoed in my brain.
It was just a simple mix up. None the less, seeing Anita’s gaunt face instead of Herc’s lovable mug was very jarring indeed.
I even considered buying Anita Blake… for like half a second. Scary.
I don’t know, some of those Bob Ross paintings got pretty intense.
Just a happy little tree… just look at him….all happy…. happy happy happy tree. Let’s make him a friend. Another happy happy tree.
Shit, I’d take a forest full of happy trees over this entertainment anyday!
Re: sex in the ABverse. First sex scene is Jason and a rotting vamp in book five. book six has Anita having sex with JC. Book eight had Anita having sex with Richard. book nine had a bad guygirl raping a teenaged boy whom Anita has not (yet *sigh*) has sex with. book ten has Anita having sex with every male over twenty one with a 7+ inch d**k.
Tbe most recent book (seventeen I think) Anita has sex with a sixteen-year-old “off camera”.
And that is why I stopped at Narcissist In Chains. I just couldn’t take it anymore. The first chapter was “oh god, some stuff is happening”, next chapter they talk a bit more on that sorta. Then comes the guy who’s name I forgot and had a huge wang. More sex, and emo issues with some people. Last two chapters suddenly the mystery solves itself, and randomly you learn someone is a hermaphrodite, because I suppose that will be necessary some day.
My friends seemed to be nuts about the series, I borrowed the books from them. They began hating Richard for I guess being mean to Anita, but I started to like him when I realized that he realized she messed up his life, and while probably demanded him to take a position he should have still ran off and slept around on him. He was probably the most… NORMAL person there. The preview for the book after NiC where she bitches out her friend and calls her a ‘slut’ or something (said friend is about to get married and doesn’t sleep with half the paranormal)… I decided to end it there, as Anita apparently has no grasp of what the term ‘slut’ even vaguely applies.
I can’t speak for other current or former Anita Blake fans, but I hated Richard because he was such a whiny, emo bitch. Dude can turn into an 8′ tall killing machine and mostly sulks and bitches…
“So I have a theory that Anita Blake is not an actual person. Instead, the SLPD keeps a RealDoll at the station and they think itâ€™s funny to bring it along on investigations. Then they pose it on couches and see if anyone complains.
Sometimes it looks like â€œAnitaâ€ is delivering dialogue. Thatâ€™s Officer Tinycam standing behind her. He didnâ€™t refill the coffee pot at the station and now he has to spend a week doing the voices.”
See, now that I know of that interpretation, I’m never gonna be able to look at it any other way again. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, but still.
Then there’s this:
“Dominga Salvadorâ€“who looks like Aunt May and talks like Razor Ramon”
Which, of course, makes me think that if Scott Hall had someone to fix him wheat cakes, maybe he wouldn’t be in the shape he’s in. Or, at the very least, that’s a team up I want to see. Or, hell, even Scott Hall doing May’s voice in the next Spidey cartoon would be great.
How common is the “cops are inept once vampires appear on the scene” idea? It was certainly a part of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where the Sunnydale cops apparently were completely clueless about the supernatural life of the town.
I love how you chose to show the one perfect panel of the nephew where he really is crouching just like Spider-Man. With the gesture he’s making with his left hand, I only wish you could have added a “thwip!” sound effect next to him. That wouldn’t be too far from your excellent changes to dialog.
And it’s only a matter of time until Anita has sex with him. In fact, you may want to add that line as you introduce each new male character.
When I was reading the books, I was hoping the story was doing an “if you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you” sort of thing. Anita would realize that monsters are people too, but also that she had become what she once hated, and find a way to regain her footing. But no. She just had more sex.
â€œif you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back at youâ€
That sounds both intimidating and corny simultaneously. But youÂ´re right, anythings better than the books. Although I really liked them before the sex marathon began.
CanÂ´t wait to see how the reviews of later Anita Blake-comics will be. If we live thuse far, that is.
In Anitas defence (in earlier books, nowadays she is guilty to all charges) the “Rape me if you can!”-exclamation came out when she was possessed by a dead shapeshifter.
â€œif you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back at youâ€
I assume that’s a reference to Anita’s vajayjay.
“I assume thatâ€™s a reference to Anitaâ€™s vajayjay.”
After about book 10 everything is about her vajayjay, and how many times random people can get into it.
I think the reason the comic book is so mind-renderingly (did I just make up a word?) boring is because LK Hamilton has a “no-edit” clause on her books, so basically whatever she writes is what goes in her books.
I can’t wait to see LK Hamilton’s…sorry… Anita’s obsession with giving BJ’s depicted in comic form. Of course if (true to form) every “interesting” part of the story happens off-page they will quickly become very short comics, mostly filled with whinging about how much sex she is having followed by her having some more sex.