Plot: Anita (and her assassin friend Edward) must face a graveyard of ghouls, a were-rat summit, and then a she-lion (Master Vampire Nikolaos) in her den. Just another work night for the licensed executioner.
Comments: “Season 2” of this title (the second run of 6 issues after last summer’s hiatus) has succeeded far better than the first arc in capturing the feeling of Hamilton’s lurid noir romances. Part of that is down to focusing on plot developments over verbiage (which you have to do in a comic adaptation of any novel – there’s a requisite economy of verbiage in the ratio to the nice big pictures). The rest is thanks to Ron Lim, who is turning in some of the most sophisticated and clever work of his career on this title.
Lim is inking himself in this series, and he’s quickly mastered the art of differentiating a large cast of characters (all of whom, as in any romance, must be stunningly beautiful). The one way in which Hamilton’s vampires resemble Anne Rice’s is that they’re stunning porcelain gods.
They’re much more evil, however; basically, they’re all Akasha, with only the occasional Armand, and barely a wise Marius at all. The Master of St. Louis is 1000 years old, but she looks like an adolescent girl. Lim has wicked fun with this concept, dressing her up as a vile kewpie doll speaking filth. It’s not prurient, just very disturbing hearing a sweet blond child order murders, and struggle with Anita not just for dominance, but complete and utter mental subjugation.
Anita and Edward are professionals. And though tough as steel, Anita is still an emotional human being. While they evince a battlefield loyalty in handling the ghouls (basically undead cannibals), Edward steps back when Anita meets with a were-rat leader (she has previously befriended this tribe, grown weary of being subjugated to the Master’s will), and is at her side with more efficient execution methods than her own when they enter Nikolaos’ lair in the daytime and start taking out her people in their coffins.
Lim makes the were-rats, once they change, into fairy tale creatures. They’re wholesome next to the alabaster-skinned Master, in her frilly pink dress and big pink bow. Lim also stays true to the lascivious nature of Hamilton’s tales, as when Anita is stunned to see a zombified Phillip (a victim of Nikolaos’ she tried to save), Lim makes it clear this former stripper is nude, without actually having to make it clear, if you get my meaning.
Nikolaos seems to have all the cards at the end of the issue, but that’s how cliffhangers work. I expect even more action in next month’s finale. And then I expect them to move right along adapting Hamilton’s series of books featuring the stalwart Anita.
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