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Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter the Laughing Corpse #5

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2009
By: Shawn Hill

Laurell K. Hamilton adapted by Jess Ruffner
Ron Lim, Joel Seguin (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter the Laughing Corpse #5 arrives in stores tomorrow, February 4.

Plot: Would you want Anita Blake's job? In this issue, she hangs out in a graveyard all night, and then goes to a trailer park to strong arm a reluctant psychic. That's before the zombie attacks.

Comments: Anita Blake started this series in a really inappropriate bridesmaid dress, wielding a rifle. She ends it in her jammies, wielding a Browning loaded with Glazer safety rounds. Because "if you hit a person in an arm or a leg with safety rounds instant amputee." Why does she need such powerful weaponry? Because she's shooting at zombies, and they don't stop until their death order is carried out.

There are really only three scenes in this issue, and each one of them hits home in a different way. In the graveyard, searching to find clues about the rampaging zombie that has been attacking suburban families so viciously, we finally see Anita do what her job requires, use her special gift. Lim uses minimal special effects to show Anita using necromancy to call out to the dead. Hamilton's deft exposition describes the indescribable, as Anita stands in the center of dark foliage, a tiny vital presence seeking to commune with invisible spirits.

Anita finds evidence of a defiled grave, and takes some of the shards of the tombstone to the best psychic she knows. Who happens to be a mentally ill man hiding from the world in an unkempt trailer. Evans the clairvoyant has been dropped by the St. Louis police dept. for being a "flake," and he really seems cursed by his psychometric ability to see the history of the things he touches. His trailer has nothing in it which might carry memories, and if Anita was merciful, she'd leave him be.

But she's not merciful, she's vengeful; she cannot allow another child to be horrifically mauled, and she refuses to let guilt prevent her from getting the results she needs. Which would be any sort of clue at all. Due to her relentless bullying, Evans provides one, at great personal cost, and Anita offers the only repayment she can: to put his housework on her firm's cleaning service. It'd be hilarious if it weren't such a pathetic offer, and again Lim delivers with a heartbreaking look at a thoroughly defeated man.

Finally, Lim pulls out the stops for a peaceful visit to Anita's sanctuary, an urban apartment full of her signature stuffed penguins. They make a cute silent commentary to this incredibly tough executioner, especially when they start tumbling through the air once the zombies attack. Anita had been expecting them to call, ever since she annoyed a ruthless voodoo priestess. Powerless against someone else's spell, she unloads round after round, which of course calls police attention to her apartment block.

These sorts of intense sequences are what draw readers to Hamilton's series (well, that and the explicit romance, which has been happily on hold for this arc for the most part). She alternates intense emotional confrontations with the impediments of police bureaucracy and the thrill of supernatural attacks. Though this arc is billed as a conclusion, it ends on a cliffhanger like every other issue, so one can only hope that the Ruffner/Lim team of adapters will continue when the story does. They are channeling the novels with near perfection at this point.







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