Current Reviews


Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Guilty Pleasures #5

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2007
By: Shawn Hill

Writer: Laurell K. Hamilton adapted by Jess Ruffner
Artist: Brett Booth

Publisher: Marvel Comics/Dabel Bros. Productions

Plot: Oh. So this is how they’re going to deal with the kinky sex in the books. By showing it, warts and all. Interesting.

Comments: Things start to add up from previous issues in this one, as assassin Ted and stripper/”professional victim” Phillip return to complicate Anita’s life. We also see her girlfriend and colleague, Ronnie, the detective again. We have now gotten a glimpse of Anita’s world and the stakes she plays for and are ready to get into her psychology and the potential landmines that litter the subterranean culture she’s becoming submerged in. Some might say mired, but Anita manages to retain her shine in the darkness, usually.

This all comes without seeing her principle nemesis, Nikolaos, the Master of St. Louis, or her particular ally, Jean-Claude, the sneakily rebellious second-in-command of the vampires. They’re both just referred to this month. In fact, this issue is rather dialogue heavy, and I’m wondering if that is due to a change in adapter. At any rate, Ruffner seems to more closely replicate the complex psychology of Hamilton’s characters than in previous issues. This installment doesn’t end on an awkward non sequitor as the previous one did, but instead on an actual cliffhanger.

That cliff comes up at an awkward vampire/sex/bondage party, one that Anita came to with an agenda (she’s trying to uncover who’s been illegally murdering vamps, as only executioners with specific warrants, like herself, are allowed to do). It’s a real sign of her own moral system that she considers abandoning that agenda mid-party. Though important, she realizes she may be compromising the “vampire junkie” who provided her entrée at the door, and Anita never lets anyone else pay a price for her actions, not if she doesn’t think they deserve it. She also never abandons a friend in a fight, though she’s not sure if Phillip really is one, yet. So far the most they have in common are the scars covering their bodies; his are willingly submitted to, while hers are relics of deadly battles.

Booth somewhat incongruously keeps everyone base-level attractive at the kink party; he just doesn’t have the flair for perversity that would really capture the depravity the dialogue hints at. One wonders what the Pander Bros. or a Darick Robertson or a Mark Texeira might do with all these creatures of the night. However, Hamilton’s books are also unabashed romance novels, and on that level of escapism Booth’s pretty people are more than serviceable.

This issue announces a hiatus until September, as well as a summer of new specials by different creative teams. Let’s hope the quality level remains high when the book returns because so far the title has been an unqualified success.

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