The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Executioner #4

As regular ISB readers know, the last few weeks have seen some major changes in my life. With the release of my first professional comics work and a move over to a full-time job with ComicsAlliance, I’ve become a full-time freelance writer. And yet, no matter how hard I try to get them to do it, nobody will pay me to read these Anita Blake comics.

Yes, like all disproportionately bitter loudmouths devoted seekers of knowledge, my dedication is unappreciated in its own time, but sometimes scholarship is its own reward. This, however, continues to be largely thankless, so let’s get on with it. Grab your own copy and follow along!



0.0: Though the interiors are still done by “Rascally” Ron Lim, this issue’s cover was provided by the original Anita Blake artist, Brett Booth…



…which means that once again, Anita has a thigh that is wider than her waist and tiny, tiny little hands. Both of those are to be expected, but the weird thing here is that your humble annotator has been doing this for so long that the sight of ol’ Thunder Thighs up there actually sparked a twinge of nostalgia for when I started doing this three years ago. Remember that? Back when I was young and hadn’t had the hope crushed out of me by interminable scenes of chatty vampire hunters refusing to hunt vampires?

Ah. Memories.


1.1: In equally cheery news, this issue picks up right where we left off last time, with Anita being menaced with the threat of rape and torture:



Because, you know. Empowerment. Given that we’ve got another issue to go (and that there have been something like forty-six Anita Blake novels after The Laughing Corpse), I think it’s safe to assume that Anita’s not actually going to die here, but if three and a half years of this book have taught us anything, it’s that this conflict will most likely be resolved by Anita talking someone to death and/or being rescued by someone with an actual shred of competence. Let’s find out!


2.1: Hey, wait a sec–




2.6: –slow dow–



3.2: Just hang on a min–



3.3: Whoa whoa whoa wait–



Okay. Is it over? Okay.

So, uh… Basically Anita Blake just poked out a guy’s eye, threw a knife into his chest, and then beat him to death with a chair, which means that Framingham & Co. just straight turned this book into a late ’90s New Jack match, and I assure you that no one is more surprised by this development than me. Seriously, I checked the cover three times to make sure I was reading Anita Blake.

I’ve got to say, I’ve been pretty harsh on this book’s complete and utter lack of action, but now I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t some metafictional con on the reader, where fourteen issues of monumentally low expectations are given to the reader so that when she does go apeshit on a bad guy, it actually comes as the kind of visceral shock that it should, even to someone jaded by a lifetime of comics about people kicking each other in the head.

Maybe it’s a long shot, but I’m willing to embrace the idea that I might be wr… That I might be wrrr… that I might be slightly incorrect in my assessment of the series thus far, and the last three years of boredom is just a masterful commitment to storytelling that are finally paying off. Maybe this is the turning point I’ve been waiting for!


4.5: And here’s the first test for LJF’sABVHTLCB3E‘s bold new direction:



Cicely, the Big Lebowski’s deaf prostitute henchwench, who has apparently taken some time off from her important work with the Mad Gear Gang, and–Zounds!

4.6: Anita just cold went Inspector Tequila on this!



Man, I just… I can’t believe it. Anita Blake’s getting shot and returning fire and killing bad guys! She’s doing stuff! I mean, none of it’s actually related to hunting vampires like it says she does on the cover, but still! I’m actually liking this comic!


5.5: Quick aside, though: Am I the only one who thinks Anita’s broke-ass K-Mart Nike knockoffs are hilarious?



I am? Okay, well, they are.


7.1: Oh man, this should be awesome! The crazy zombie monster that first appeared in the last issue has shown up! Given that Cicely’s been shot through the heart with Anita to blame and Tommy’s been beaten like Mick Foley at Royal Rumble ’99 (Note To Readers Who Did Not Spend Their Youths Watching WWF: He got hit with a chair a lot. Like, a lot), then this ought to be a huge moment. Cicely and Tommy were, after all, minor villains (Cicely only appeared in two issues that were released more than a year apart), and the big zombie monster is the most impressive supernatural threat that we’ve yet seen in a series of comics that are built entirely around supernatural threats! This, therefore, should be the biggest and most tense action of the series thus far!


9.3: Or, she could fucking talk to it.



For those of you keeping score at home, the amount of time that I was actually enjoying Anita Blake is 7 pages, 2 panels. And you know, that’s my fault, really. I should’ve known better.


11.2-3: Yep, things are well and truly back to normal:



After a brief flirtation with competence, Anita’s back to being unable to resist external forces that are compelling her into exciting activities like “walking around.” That’s our Anita!


14.5: Yeah, nice try here…



…but I’m not falling for it again. You can have Aunt May smack her around all you want, you can even have her murder two dudes with a machete (but not, unfortunately, with Machete) on Page 22, but I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not going to get my hopes up that anything of substance is ever going to happen in this comic.

You got me once, LJF’sABVHTLCB3E… But I won’t get fooled again.

30 thoughts on “The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse: Executioner #4

  1. This, however, continues to be largely thankless, so let’s get on with it.

    That’s not entirely true. A lot of people love your Anita Blake series and have for a very long while. If nothing else, it’s paid off in visibility and notoriety.

  2. Sadly, the liquor store does not accept visibility.

    I hope you’re ready for this quote on a t-shirt as your Chris-mas present. I might even do it now, so you’ll have it in time for HeroesCon. (I know you’ve got the I [HEART] THE HATE shirt, but you can only wear that for one day. Right?)

  3. I too think the shoes are hilarious, because one of the things I still remember from the strange period I spent actually reading the books was how, whenever Anita got dressed, she told you every item of clothing she was putting on; and she was always careful to specify that she was wearing Nikes, what color they were, and what color the swishes were. And I’m pretty sure she usually matched her shirt to the swishes, or something. Basically, a lot of detail that had nothing to do with vampires or zombies or were-critters.

    (Did you realize how much worse these comics could be?)

  4. If only Heely technology (i.e., the wheel) existed in the early ’90’s. From what little I remember there is some action left in the story, but I doubt it’s enough for a whole book, so the BIG FINISH should come with an appropriately Blakeian amount of padding.

    Still and all, nice freakout, Anita!

  5. Is she poking her thumb in MODOK’s eye? (Alternate joke: is that hooker holding a toy gun, or are her outstretched arms actually farther away than her torso? Geez, the proportions on everyone are screwy.)

    And heely technology did exist in the early 90s. Steve Martin invented it to cruise around museums in LA Story.

  6. Just try going into a liquor store while you’re invisible. It’s like driving while black, the clerks will figure you’re just in there to steal something and they’ll get all in your face. Unless Anita Blake is working the counter, in which case you could probably walk out with all the hooch you can carry.

  7. Huh. So it appears that all it takes to get Anita to, you know, actually DO something is threaten to rape her. At that point she goes insane for about 10 minutes, during which she will actually do things you’d expect a hunter of anything (particularly vampires) to do.

    So we’re sure to see her actually hunt vampires, zombies, and other paranormal creatures, as long as they threaten / try to rape her first. Or are at least in the same room where someone else has done this. Or walk into that room in the next 10 minutes.

    This is indeed a strange formula in a book that is supposed to be about both female empowerment and vampire hunting.

    But wouldn’t it make the most fantastic ‘sploitation flick EVER?? Especially when combined with the awesome we saw in your DEVIL #1 review?

    ….Seriously, I really don’t have a problem with women. I just really like vampires and unsettling gore tropes. I’ll admit I have a problem, but only a problem I actually have.

  8. So rape threats are what it takes to make this book exciting, huh? Never thought I’d hear myself say this, but get Brad Meltzer on this comic, stat.

    “You got me once, LJF’sABVHTLCB3E…”

    Ah, the “Law of Decreasing Quality Relative to an Increasing Number of Letters in the Acronym” or “LoDQRtaINoLitA” rears its head yet again. It’s a self-demonstrating law too, because it’s not very well-worded. (The Law of Effectively Short Acronyms – LESA – is considered the Buffy to LoDQRtaINoLitA’s Anita Blake)

  9. Yay! More Anita Blake reviews. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    BTW, in the interior images you’ve posted, all the women have thighs that are larger than their waists (and Cicely’s gun is tiny). So why is Brett Booth any worse than his replacement?

    Well, other than the fact that Lim drew some of the Infinity Gauntlet, of course…

  10. Is it just me, or are the comics getting lamer and lamer with every issue? Is this *FINALLY* the end – one hopes?

    Wasn’t lkh’s contract with Marvel only for three books to be turned into comic books? IS our torment – losing your wonderful snarks – just starting?????


  11. As I lettered this issue, I had it in the back of my mind, that the action is going to knock Chris for a loop… Made me giggle a bit. ;)

  12. Wasn’t lkh’s contract with Marvel only for three books to be turned into comic books? IS our torment – losing your wonderful snarks – just starting?????

    If the contract is for three books, then we still have the adaptation of Circus of the Damned to look forward to.

    “Look forward to” is the right term, right? Is there something that also implies soul-wrenching horror?

  13. Cicely’s forearms look wider than her waist in that panel.

    Anyway, big smoochies for keeping this up, darlin’. You’re a stronger man than me.

  14. In that last panel, before Aunt May slaps her, is Anita walking with Wheelchair Wanda? Did I skip over the part where Wanda was healed?

  15. Just like the heroes reviews over at io9, I appreciate someone reading this so I don’t have to. I’ll pay you in beer if I ever meet in person.

    It’s great to see what those trashy novels that my dad read a while back, that looked AWESOME but seemed kind of dirty, are like [in comic book form]. Exactly what I expected it turns out!

    P.S: Any bets on how long it takes Chris to not preface an ISB post with “Since I started working at Comics Alliance”? :P I kid, it made for a great opener this post.

  16. Is the “Mad Gear Gang” supposed to link to your homepage? Shouldn’t relate to Final Fight?

    Ah, right, it was supposed to link here. That’s one of the things about writing my own HTML, I’ll often write the tag without plugging in the URL so I don’t break my rhythm, and then forget to go back and do it.

    P.S: Any bets on how long it takes Chris to not preface an ISB post with “Since I started working at Comics Alliance”?

    SILENCE CRETIN–I mean, yes, well, these posts tend to get readers from outside my normal gang, as the people who hate Anita Blake don’t necessarily overlap with people who love Batman and quoting “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. And they might enjoy my other work as well, including ComicsAlliance and my own webcomic about a half-vampire private detective, which starts its second issue on Wednesday!

  17. I guess Poison is the definitive member of Mad Gear.
    I always thought it was Hugo myself.

  18. Not for nothing, but it doesn’t say Vampire Hunter on the cover any more. I haven’t read it so I don’t have a per issue corpse chuckle count.

  19. See, the thing is – these comics are still based on the earlier books. Which are awful, but compared to the later books they are fine literature.

    Yes. Seriously.

    One of her later books literally has the characters waking up, going down a hallway, having a fight, then running back the way they came and then it ends. The ENTIRE BOOK is WALKING DOWN A HALLWAY. Every time I finish one of these books I feel like I’ve just escaped from a mental institution.

  20. @Cait which one is that?

    This series inspired such masochism in me that I scored the rest of the books secondhand. I’m at the point where I want to claw my face off rather than continue, but part of me wants to know just how bad they go!

  21. Cait, it gets even worse in the last few books. “Skin Trade” has three whole chapters that consist of Anita talking on the phone, and staring at other people’s family photos. NOTHING else happens.

    And there’s a freaking severed head in those chapters. Most people couldn’t be that boring and pointless if they TRIED.

  22. Anitas thighs are actually bulging here. Bulging. I think they´re kinda like power centra where she gets.. apparently not stamina for fighting.. maybe some juice for talking the talk?

  23. Well.. having read the book,I was pretty excited over the comic adaptation.
    However I have to agree with your posts so far.It is pretty awful.

    The script seems poorly thought out.
    Quite a bit of the narrative that is pretty irrelevant seems to get special attention in the comic book,hence dragging the story out more than necessary.

    It all seems dumbed down with a lot of bits left unexplained.