So, here we are in the very first comic book based on the Anita Blake series, based on the very first book in this not-pioneering-urban-fantasy series.
And right away the pain starts. I'm almost tempted to send this shitfest to Linkara, but he already suffered through two issues of Laughing Corpse and I doubt he'd be in a hurry to read these.
So I'll just say what I'm sure he'd say: This cover is awful. In theory, it should look awesome... but in reality, you can barely see anything in it! Everything is shades of blue and purple that blur together until you can barely make out anything. Even Anita's clothes blend into the background. The only notable splashes of non-blue/purple in this are the moon, little red eyes, and Anita's pasty white skin. I messed around with this scan image on photoshop, and appparently all those weird ill-defined figures around Anita include zombies, people I assume to be vampires, werewolves (who don't appear in this comic title), and... uh... panthers? Spiky-headed reptiles?
Another thing you notice: THIGHS! Anita's are actually rather tolerable here, even if they are HUGE. Look at the thighs of all those other creatures!
There are also some variant covers, but I'll cover those some other time.
Anyway, we open with: "Willie McCoy had been a jerk before he died. His being dead didn't change that." He liked to show up at my house just to make objects fly around the house! I have to call a priest to remove him!
No, actually Willie McCoy is a vampire who only appears as a plot device.
"I wore my waffle suit today, because I wanted you to take me seriously."
- How can a vampire smoke if they're dead? Doesn't death involve a lack of breathing?
- With brilliant business sense like that, I'm amazed that Anita isn't running a major corporation.
- And in case you haven't read my review of previous chapters, Anita is being a bitch because she hates vampires for... uh... um.... no reason. A vampire didn't kill her dog or anything; she's just prejudiced because... she is. It reminds me of C.S. Lewis as a tiny child saying "I have a prejudice against the French," and when asked why, he said, "If I knew why, it wouldn't be a prejudice!"
So they have a HALF PAGE full of conversations about whether Anita is afraid of Willie or not, with Anita insisting, "I'm totally not scared of you!" and Wllie saying "You are totally scared of me! I can tell with my Vamp Powahz!" and Anita saying "I hate how vampires can smell a lie" and Willie saying "Hah, you're totally scared of me!" and my gun saying BANG.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I still haven't shown Anita, alleged badass and boogeymen of vampires everywhere. So, tell me, what will this legendary figure of urban fantasy look like? I expect only the highest quality from LKH!
.... WAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA! gasp HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HEEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEEEEEEEEEE...gasp Oh holy shit, that is BAD. Where do I even start making fun of it? Wherever shall I begin? What can say that's even sillier than that?
Okay, I'll dissect the art of Anita's upper half piece by piece.
- Skin: Wow. Who has actual skin like that except albinos? If you look carefully in the second picture, you can see that she is actually paler than the UNDEAD GUY. I'm not a tanning advocate, but I think you shouldn't be rocking the "chalk" look.
- Lips: I've never seen lips like those except on Lisa Rinna.
- Breasts: For a character who's supposed to have the hugest tatas in history, Anita's chest is weirdly deflated. Does she not believe in wearing bras?
- Clothes: These are actually some of the better clothes we see her in, but the color is awful. It makes her look even more circus-freaky than usual.
- Hair: I saved this one for last because HOLY CRAP this is some of the worst hair in any comic book I've seen. It's like hair made by someone who's never actually SEEN hair before.
- Picture 1: The first appearance of the infamous hair tentacle. This thing is never gonna go away. Also, I am fascinated by how the side tendrils near her chin look like they're flat and twisting around, or else they get thinner and fatter at random intervals.
- Picture 2: This picture kills me. Anita's hair looks like some giant Lovecraftian mass with dozens of tentacles. It's also WAY LONGER than it should be on a vampire hunter of either gender. And look at the part! Really look at it. Between that and the GIANT mass of hair sliding off the side, it looks like she's wearing a huge floofy wig that's coming off her head! It's just hysterical!
Okay, back to the comic book's ploSNRRRFFFFHEEEHEEEHEEEHEE!!!!! I'm sorry, I just have trouble saying that about any Anita Blake story. I'll be good now.
So anyway, Willie finally reveals what he's there for.
I love the melodrama of this part. Never before has the comment "I'm here to give you money" resulted in a blank death stare, as if he had just said, "I'm here to kill your puppy." And I love how we have the sinister visual of a big fanged grin, while he's announcing that he wants to be her client.
Anita replies "I raise the dead for a living, no pun intended. Why would a vampire need a zombie raised?" Uh, the same reasons a human would need one raised, I assume. Willie reveals that he wants her to investigate the murders of some vampires in the club district. For some reason, it takes an entire page for them to converse about this, especially since Willie snipes, "Maybe the cops feel like you do, Anita. What's one more dead vampire? New laws don't change that." Oh big deal, they're vampires so by definition they're dead. Uh wait, does he mean dead or dead-dead? Be specific!
This is Anita's cue to monologue. Run for your life.
- ... and since all cops are bigots anyway, nobody's gonna investigate any such crimes. Only Anita is awesome enough!
- In case you're wondering: no, we are never going to know what Addison V. Clark was.
- Maybe I'm missing something, but if you aren't technically a person, how can you be represented in court? I'm not knowledgeable about courts and legal stuff, but it feels like something's missing to me.
- Again, this is a world where vampires and weres have always existed. They're not a new development, and they have always been public knowledge... so it never occurred to anyone that the undead might be considered spiritually "alive" until just a few years ago? Man, people are stupid!
- So vampires are easily accepted only by the US, but gay marriage is not? I don't get it.
- Uhhhh... so other countries are in denial? They insist that those pale cold blood-drinking people with fangs and no pulse are NOT vampires?
- "... from immigrating in, well, flocks." Why is that "well" there? Is there something ironic or amusing about the word "flocks" that I'm not getting?
So they keep doing the Awkward Conversation Tango, with Willie saying that he's come to her because she's "the best at what you do," which is a dumb compliment because NEITHER of her jobs involve investigating murders. Committing them yes, but not investigating them. For some reason, Anita doesn't point this out, and just snipes, "Who are you working for, Willie?" Here's a hint: I think its Jack Nicholson. He's evil, you know.
Cue Awkward Conversation Tango, with Anita bitching that she won't discuss police business with Willie, and Willie waving money in front of her face. Willie also makes a variety of hilarious faces, apparently because he can:
- Face 1: Sinister and fangy.
- Face 2: Puppyish.
- Face 3: Totally stoned. Which makes me wonder: if they can smoke, can they get stoned?
Anita basically tells him to piss off, because she's working for the police. She also whines that her boss sent her Willie to talk to because, he knows how I felt about vampires. Interesting change of tense - does that mean she doesn't detest them anymore, or is this an editorial screwup? Bert'll do anything for money, and the problem is that he thinks I should too. I'll only do anything for POWER, not for icky money!
- "Fear is like a hamster - it runs around a lot, it's furry, and it will pee in your pocket. Wait, my metaphor got away from me."
- Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't know why she's so scared. THIS is the face Willie is making:
- It's not exactly threatening, is it? The guy looks bummed out and maybe a little pissed, not scary.
- Anita is not wearing a shirt. As we see on the next page, she's wearing a dress.
- I think throwing a client out because of your own biases is kind of unprofessional anyway, no?
So Anita kicks him out of her office.
Is Hamilton trying to make us detest her heroine? Watching her repeatedly spit in the face of someone coming to her for help just makes her look like a bitch, especially since she already said that she was already working the case. A person who was even a little professional and/or nice would say, "I'm already helping investigate the case, so I'm afraid I can't take that same case from anyone else. Have a nice day." Instead Anita monologues and snarls a lot.
So then Willie grows a blurry third arm... wait sorry, he was doing his vampire speed thing.
But because Anita is speshully attuned to the dead, she steps out of the way. Or... well, I assume that's what happening, since her hair is suddenly waving its tentacles, but there are no speed lines. I swear, LKH's idea of "sexy disheveled" hair is what most people think of as "kraken eating Tokyo."
It also highlights one of the biggest problems with LKH's obsession with long hair: if Willie wanted, he could grab her hair and break her neck because it's really long and floating around.
And.... holy crap! Not only is that guy wearing a waffle coat but he appears to be wearing a baguette for a tie. Also, why is he wearing pants the color of radioactive green beans? Is this the vampire laundry day, when they have to wear bakery-inspired clothes because all the tasteful stuff is still in the washer?
Anyway, they have a debate about how Anita knew he was gonna move, and Anita's boobs grow at least two cup sizes between panels. And we get this line: "... no human coulda stepped outta reach like that. You ain't human, anymore than I am." Wow, what a memorable line! I'm sure it has great importance in the plot, and this is just subtle foreshadowing to hint that...
... oh wait, it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story, and it's never brought up again. Nor is Anita's ability to "hear" vampire superspeed.
So Anita says some fake-polite stuff and then snipes that, "Tell [the vampire employers], whoever they are, that I don't work for vampires," and Willie gets very worried and talks about how "These poeple don't like anybody telling 'em 'no'... it ain't a threat, Anita. It's the truth." This would be a more compelling exchange if we had the faintest idea WHY Anita hates vampires and refuses to work for them.
In fact, we NEVER really get told in this comic why she hates vampires so much. It seems weird to have such a strong prejudice with absolutely nothing behind it. Did vampires kill her dog? Do they play loud music next door to her house? Did one of them keep calling her and asking if she has Prince Albert in a can?
Anyway, having spent a WHOLE TWO PAGES trying to usher a guy out the door, Anita wastes a little more of our time by leaning against a door and being emo. Not only have her boobs deflated again, but now her cross is hanging out even though it was firmly tucked in a few panels ago:
And just to render this entire scene totally pointless, Anita then monologues about her gun. Oh goody gumdrops, LKH is rambling on about Anita's metal penises and how awesome they are: I keep a 9mm Browning high-power in my desk. The gun weighed a little over two pounds, silver-plated bullets and all. Silver won't kill a vampire outright, but it makes them heal the wound human-slow.;And what is the relevance of that? NOTHING.
Even worse: this whole scene is pretty much pointless, especially since the important stuff could be summed up in a single page:
"Come work for us vampires! We'll pay you a lot!"
"Don't wanna. Expository dialogue about vampire murders."
"Wah, this makes me sad."
"Sorry, don't care. Bye-bye."
WHY DID IT TAKE FIVE PAGES? WHY?
Okay, on to the next REALLY SHORT scene, which takes all of a page and could have easily been dropped in favor of a two-sentence explanation. No, it doesn't involve Anita's phallic weapons: instead, it has Anita in bed. NO, not that kind of "Anita in bed" scene - that comes later in the series. This is back when she actually SLEPT in her bed, instead of having orgiastic sex with at least two guys followed by metaphysical vampire attacks and at least two "inner animals" trying to bust out of her stomach like a baby xenomorph.
... it sounds kind of stupid when you put it like that.
"Oh Sigmund, you will later be replaced by an effeminate guy with pee-colored eyes and a giant mass of hair. Aren't you lucky?"
I'll admit, the stuffed penguins are kinda cute, even if the one next to her pillow looks like he wants to sell me a used car. So anyway, the phone is ringing, and Anita is whining about it: Five rings now. Giving me a headache. Guess I'll give in. The sentence fragments, they burn!
So she answers it, and it's some chick named Monica wo she doesn't really know who is a buddy of some chick she works with named Catherine. It's like Six Degrees of Anita Blake Doesn't Give A Shit. Anita gripes that, "Sorry if I don't sound nice right now, but I was trying to sleep." Nah, it's okay. You always sound like a bitch - you actually sound nicer when you're not fully awake.
Oh, and I'd include some artwork from this page, but honestly there's nothing really worth posting. We just get closeups of Anita's Cthulhu-hair, bloated lips, and Anita snuggling against her horrible Tang-colored pillows. I don't know what's worse - the tacky all-silk crap from later in the series, or these abominations.
Anyway, this entire page is to tell Anita that Monica is throwing Catherine a bachelorette party. "She's getting married next month," Monica explains. Good thing she said that, because I would have assumed that they randomly throw bachelorette parties for women who aren't even engaged. So she gives Anita a rundown of where to go, what to wear, whatever. After hanging up so she can go back to sleep, Anita decides that she wants to monologue-whine instead: A surprise bachelorette party? Why did I say yes?
Uh, why would you say no? I mean, does Anita dislike this sort of thing? Oh wait, Anita is like the potty-mouthed version of Bella Swan - nothing in the world is as torturous as normal social interaction. And we're just supposed to KNOW that at the start of the series.
If I'd been thinking clearly, I would have just turned her down.
... again, WHY? LKH is leaving essential stuff out of this dialogue!
The worst part of this entire exchange is that "Anita answering the phone in bed" could have been easily excised. All LKH had to do was put a brief description of it in the NEXT page, when we SEE them going to the bachelorette party. Would it have been so hard to just write, "But enough of work. I had been invited to my coworker Catherine's bachelorette party, along with some pal of hers named Monica"? See! With two sentences, I made that entire scene pointless!
Oh, and there's no transition between the two scenes. One minute Anita is in bed, the next minute we have THIS:
Anita's idea of fun involves cleaning her phallic weapons and waving them at pedestrians.
So much wrong with just one panel.
- What kind of bachelorette party has only three women? I guess Catherine doesn't have a lot of friends.
- Of course, Anita is about twelve feet behind the other two, and trying not to interact with them at all. In case you are newcomers to the series, which I doubt, let me enlighten you: Anita hates social interaction, she hates fun, and she hates women. She's like a slightly less passive version of Bella Swan.
- Someone get an ambulance for Monica! HER HIPS WON'T UNSWAY! Seriously, what kind of woman walks like that? A cartoon femme fatale in a really bad noir movie? Jessica Rabbit?
- Another general series rant: we're often told that Anita has tits that would shame a cow, that her boobs are SOOOOOOO big that she needs special bras and that sort of shit. Yet both of her friends have breasts that are just as big, if not bigger.
- Also, she's supposed to be freakishly pale. But Catherine is just as pale.
Oh, and see that slightly more intense blue blob on Monica's blue shirt? That is a button. Anita mentions it in her internal monologue that, "The button she's wearing doesn't bode well for the evening. But she's Catherine's friend, not mine."
- I can barely even see the button! The print is microscopic! For all I know, it says, "If you can see this message, you've got your face in my cleavage."
- Okay, I scanned, isolated and enlarged the button picture... and I still can't read it. It looks like it says something like "Valium paris our people tool."
- I had to check the book to see what the button says... which defeats the whole fucking point of HAVING the button in the comic! By the way, it's a pro-vampire button.
I suppose this is LKH's clumsy way of having foreshadowing, but how does wearing a pro-vampire button not "bode well for the evening"? Why does she assume that a person who supports vampire rights would only take them to a vampire place? I mean, if I wear a button supporting the fight against breast cancer, that doesn't mean I'm planning to drag anyone else out for mammograms.
And in the next panel...
... suddenly Catherine is ten feet behind Monica instead of in front of Anita. And their heads are freakishly tiny. And what the hell is that parked in the street, an alien leaf blower?
Also, I love that inner monologue. How can anyone argue that Anita's not crazy gun-happy when she talks about how she doesn't THINK that a gun will be required at a three-woman bachelorette party... but isn't sure?
And instead of having fun at her bachelorette party, Catherine is apparently dealing with a supposedly "drunk" Monica and a whiny bitchy Anita, who is just as much fun as an electric shock to the genitals. When she isn't sniping at Monica for... existing, she's pouting and refusing to drink anything.
... which is why I don't drink ANYTHING.
So in other words, she doesn't like to cut loose since apparently she won't drink at ALL, like a spinster aunt who frowns on "the drink." People talk about Anita's lack of sex life in the early series, but basically she doesn't like to indulge in ANYTHING.
And just then, we're presented with their destination:
Because naked vampires and naked humans look totally different.
Yup, it's a vampire strip club, aka Guilty Pleasures. A run-down dump in the "vampire" section of town, where various submissive prettyboys with long flowing hair get naked onstage, aka the place where LKH wants to live her entire life. I love how Anita is the only person in the world to be pouting and sulking in front of a FUCKING STRIP CLUB. Seriously, she looks like one of those religious fanatics who glowers whenever someone else has fun.
Inside, Monica starts getting touchy-feely with the bouncer, which is probably LKH's subtle way of insisting, "She's a slut!"
And enter Jean-Claude, the owner of Guilty Pleasures and the resident slimy Pepe Le Pew French stereotype. He's totally obsessed with Anita for... no real reason except that she's a Sue.
Oui oui, mon ami. Baguette, escargot Paree Arc de Triomphe!
OH MAN, are we actually supposed to be impressed by this guy? He's wearing a LACE-TRIMMED POET'S SHIRT. And any man who shows off that much of his chest every day without a damn good reason has GOT to be a huge douchebag.
Plus... what is up with his LOOKS? He looks EXACTLY like Anita if she had pecs instead of tits. So basically LKH's Sue wants to have sex with... herself. Ew. I mean look at him, he even has the same hair with the same damn curl. If you gave him breasts, he would look exactly like Anita.
Aaaaaaannnyyyyywaaaaaaaayyyyy, Anita drops the important tip to "never look a vampire in the eye," which is Jean-Claude's tip to slobber on women's hands. Apparently Catherine isn't impressed:
"Ewwww, he smells like cheap cologne and escargot."
Then again, who could fail to be dazzled by that Ken doll face?
And since everything has to be monologued about until we puke, Anita starts musing, "Hmm, there's a cross-shaped burn mark on his chest. How many decades ago did someone shove a cross into his flesh?" You would think this was somehow important to the plot. You'd be wrong. It has nothing to do with anything.
He's reading my thoughts. And that voice of his is damn soothing.
He has a second job narrating audiobooks, car commercials, and anime villains.
This is always how it goes. Jean-Claude is intrigued by my partial immunity to him.
... and by my freakish lack of skin color.
That and the cross-shaped burn scar on my arm. He finds the scar amusing.
Of course, he also finds pudding amusing.
Every time we meet, he does his best to bespell me, and I do my best to ignore him.
It's a little hard to do that when he puts on his sequined wizard hat and starts talking in Elvish.
And so far, I've always won.
... at paintball.
So then Anita and Jean-Claude start bickering about Anita's cross and whether she should be allowed to bring it inside. This whole "cross" thing takes up most of a page, and is boring as hell. Anita starts whining that, He's suggesting that I'm a coward. I'm not. Too bad the artist didn't read that, because THIS is Anita's attitude.
Your pasta-colored pecs fascinate me!
Yeah, that totally says "non-cowardly" to me, especially when you spend the ENTIRE PAGE whining about how you don't wanna take off your cross.
Of course, it doesn't help that Jean-Claude has to keep flapping his undead gums. Instead of reassuring Anita to get her to turn over her cross, her assures her that she's gonna get mindfucked and therefore SHOULD NOT turn over her cross. "You will not resist the show tonight, Anita. Someone will enthrall you." It will probably be Big Ray, the janitor. His belly jiggles are just hypnotic.
Of course, Anita responds to this with her usual wit, by just making THIS FACE
"My lips do NOT have implants!"
EPIC POUT MANEUVER. Seriously, who makes that face except angry toddlers? And WHAT THE FUCK is going on with that face curl? If it gets any longer she'll be picking her nose with it.
For some reason, Anita starts taking off her cross - despite Jean-Claude's assurance that she'll be mindfucked - and hands it to a chick wearing a dress with boob cutouts. Jean-Claude makes the stupid comment that, "This is a place of pleasure, Anita, not violence." Yeah, but since LKH wouldn't write sex at this stage, violence is kind of a given, especially since that's how all the chapters end. So they go wandering off into the next room to watch strippers.
Oh, and the bullshit they feed the patrons?
Just one evil thought, though. If you have TWO evil thoughts, then we can't help you.
Oh, and they are full of it. Basically all that the strippers do is get naked, suck blood, or occasionally transform onstage. The kinkiest stuff there usually involves mild whipping. But Jen-Claude rambles for a whole panel in a style Stephenie Meyer would be jealous of about how sexy is it so drink blood. And then we get our first stripper... who isn't even supernatural. And OH OH OH MAN GAAAAAHHH...
The first of many sexually-abused man-children who can't cope with real life unless Anita "takes care" of them. Hold me!
Holy shit, he looks like he's covered in herpes! Or like he's got the worst perspective shading EVER! Are we supposed to think that this guy is sexy, as all the chanting of his name implies? Do ALL the women there have a scar fetish, or are we supposed to think that he's so dazzlingly hot that nobody can resist him? I love how he's got this "Oh yeah, go me!" expression, like he's hot shit.
NEWS FLASH TO LKH: He doesn't. He does not look like an irresistible hottie. He has a pretty face, but overall he just looks like a junkie hooker who who has all the hepatitis strains, HIV, tuberculosis, and a few new diseases that cooked up in his diseased blood.
Speaking of his diseased blood, the unsexiness isn't done yet! Pass me a hankie, because I may weep.
How can you tell if he's wonderful? Your eyes are barely open.
Given how boring Anita is, I honestly wonder if she's shocked by the guy's herpes-ridden bod or just shocked because he took his shirt off. Also, isn't the point of having strippers to have them get naked? I see more manflesh on display at the swimming pool... and it doesn't make me nauseous either.
So Anita stands there with her mouth hanging open, analyzing the scars on this stripper (his name is Phillip, in case you care), and comparing them to her own. Why does she do this? Because she wants to let us know that SHE HAZ SCARZ because HER WORK IS SUPER-DANGEROUS AND SHE'S JUST SO TOUGH!
Oh, and while she's boring me with her monologues, other people are doing THIS:
- Again, WHAT IS SEXY ABOUT THIS GUY? He's built nicely, but he's all scarred up and looks diseased. What are the chances that EVERY WOMAN who goes there just happens to have a fetish for guys like that?!
- Also, why are ALL the women apparently lined up single-file in front of a wall? Look at the shadows, and you'll see that apparently they are right in front of the wall and there's nobody in front of or behind them. Lamest strip club EVER.
- Also, I can't tell what some of those women are holding. Look at the one in the middle - she looks like she's offering NAIL SCISSORS. And the next-to-last one, what is that? It looks like a golden G-string.
As if the whole thing wasn't gross enough, Monica demonstrates that pasty, scarred, junkielike men are just SO hawt and irresistible, she doesn't care if she gets AIDS.
This image is so unsexy that it has been used to treat overdoses of Viagra. It has been used to cure sex addicts. It has been used in abstinence sex-ed classes. If you ever want to have children or have sex with anyone ever again, make sure you never ever ever YOU ALREADY LOOKED, DIDN'T YOU?
HUUUURRRRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHH.... yeah, because nothing is sexier than licking and sucking at the half-healed cuts on a sexually-abused stripper you barely know. who could have dozens of diseases floating around in his bloodstream.
Holy shit, this is SO NOT SEXY. I mean, we're watching a woman with Botox face and no eyes running her tiny tongue on a pasty scarred man... that's not hot. What is sexy about this? EXPLAIN IT TO ME PLEEEEAAAASEEEEEE!
And with that, we FINALLY reach the halfway part of the first issue. Thank God. Tune in next time - same shitty time, same shitty channel.
And on to: Guilty Pleasures Part 2