Unless you were rocketed to Earth from the dying planet Krypton, chances are you’ve had the experience of removing a Band-Aid, and you’ll be familiar with the generally accepted wisdom that it’s better to just get it over with quickly rather than drawing out the process any longer than necessary. The anticipation of pain can often be worse than the experience itself.
In a related story, it’s been two months since the release of an issue of Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book Two: Necromancer, which has apparently switched to a bimonthly schedule to
draw out the suffering as long as possible better accommodate the rigorous demands of producing a comic where nothing ever happens. But when an issue does hit the shelves, you can rely on the ISB Research Department to step in to provide a scholarly examination of its many, many mysteries.
So please, grab your own copy and follow along!
0.0: According to the last-issue recap, the various non-events of the series thus far are “forcing Anita to go on the defensive.” If there’s a better summary of the driving action of this series than the events beyond her control leading our “heroine” to stand around waiting for further events beyond her control, then brother, I’d like to hear it.
1.1: As it turns out, the “Laughing Corpse” of the title is actually a comedy club:
Putting aside the fact that “The Laughing Corpse” would be a better name for a tavern where a hardy band of unlikely heroes are contracted to put an end to a local kobold infestation, this actually establishes a pattern, as the first series–Guilty Pleasures–was named after a vampire strip club. If the theme of naming her books after local drinking establishments holds up, I look forward to the next installment: Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The TGI Friday’s Down By the Airport.
2.2: Most comics make an attempt to hook the reader right from the start by throwing some Big Action into the first few pages. LJFsABVHLCB2N, however, takes a different route, so thrill as Anita bulldozes through any obstacle in her path with the ancient art… of politeness!
In future issues, brace yourself for the chilling action of Anita drinking eight to ten glasses of water every day and waiting an hour after eating before getting into the pool!
3.1: I’ve made something of a point of the fact that nothing ever happens in this comic, but just in case you thought I was exaggerating, I’d like to point out that Anita’s spent two and a half pages waiting in line at a club and asking to speak to the manager.
Two. And a half. Pages.
4.4-4.5: All right, at this point, I can’t even keep the veneer of faux-scholarship up, because of this nonsense:
In order to characterize Anita as the tough, no-nonsense heroine that she so desperately aspires to be, this scene shows Anita talking about how if she gets tired of waiting, why, she’s just going to march right in there and give that effete vampire a piece of her mind, which of course is met with a reaction of pure awe at her toughness from some minor character. Which is fine, except that–and I refer you to the point above–she doesn’t do that. What she does is sit around for another nine fucking pages waiting patiently for James from Team Rocket to pencil her into his busy schedule.
That is bullshit.
You can’t just tell your readers that someone is a total badass without actually having them do something to back it up every now and then. Otherwise, you’re just creating the impression that your main character is an all-talk pompous windbag that caves at the first sign of any actual pressure, which is actually completely supported by the evidence we’ve been given. It’s a cheat, and unless we’re meant to equate Anita with the fat kid from elementary school who talked about how he had eighteen black belts and could totally beat up anyone but went out like a punk to a Macho Man Randy Savage Elbow Drop from the jungle gym, this is not a good thing.
5.3-5.4: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… comedy:
Admittedly, I think this guy’s actually supposed to be a lousy comedian, but I think this is a very revealing scene, as it shows that since Jean-Claude has become the Vampire Master of St. Louis, the talent coordinator at the Laughing Corpse has been replaced by someone who totally sucks at his job.
6.6: And thus, our comedian discovers the advantage of using a ventriloquist dummy rather than a zombie in his act: Neither one is going to be funny, but there’s a decent enough chance that the dummy isn’t going to try to eat your flesh.
In either case, this is the scene depicted on the cover, where Anita leaps in to save the comedian by applying a chokehold to the zombie and physically wrenching him away from the victim. In the actual story, however, it goes a bit more like this:
Yep. She talks to it. And it stops.
Also of note, the fact that Anita’s narration offers a hasty, defensive explanation for why she actually did something instead of just sitting around.
8.2-8.3: As an annotator, it’s my job to point out bits of dialogue that can reveal something about the creators. In this case…
WILLIE: I never liked zombies.
ANITA: Are you afraid of zombies?
ANITA: You’re afraid of zombies. You’re phobic.
…we can learn that Laurenn J. Framingham owns a thesaurus. And possibly that she learned to write by reading The Super-Dictionary.
11.4: I have read every issue of the Anita Blake comics. God help me, I have read them multiple times, and written pretty extensively about each one.
I have no idea who this character is.
You know, I think we all need an “escort to the tenderloin” every now and again. Am I right, fellas?
12.7: Oh wait, he’s that dude who works at the bar. Way to create a memorable supporting cast!
14.2: Prepare for trouble…
…and make it double.
Yes, after nine pages of sitting around his comedy club, Anita finally comes face to face with her sworn enemy, and then they start discussing art. Seriously, it’s an entire page of talking about the painting on the wall. That’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, folks. Ask for it by name.
16.1: Oh my God will you look at this guy.
Jean-Claude is wearing leather pants with thigh high leather boots on over them. If you saw this guy walking down the street, you could be late for your own wedding and you would still turn around to follow this guy for blocks until you could get a good shot with your camera phone.
16.2-16.3: Racking up another mark for Anita’s rep as the hardcore “Executioner” is this scene…
…where she can’t hold a conversation with her nemesis without getting distracted by his chalk-white pecs.
17.1: Oh my God.
18.3: They’re just going to talk to each other about nothing for the rest of the issue, aren’t they?
22.6: zzzhuh? Oh, it’s ending? No, it’s okay. I’m up. Okay, what do we have here…
22.7: You know, with the lack of action pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point, you have to think that the Anita Blake series is succeeding on its other merits, like the strong characterization, dialogue and interplay…
…which in this case appears to be lifted directly from Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, circa 1957.