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” QuiÃ±ones.
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.