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Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse--Necromancer #5

Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2009
By: Dawn Herrera

Laurell K. Hamilton, adapted by Jess Ruffner
Ron Lim, Laura Villari (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse--Necromancer #5 arrives in stores tomorrow, September 23.

Plot: Anita continues her investigation into a grizzly series of murders, working with colleagues from both of her jobs: Police Sergeant Dolph Storr, and fellow necromancer John Burke, whose own brother is one of the murder victims.

Comments: I've never really understood the pacing of this series. It offers occasional, irregular bursts of excitement, but often ends issues on non-cliffhangers, and spends oodles of valuable panel-time on long-winded conversations. This issue is one of the lulls, and while it's not really bad, it doesn't play to the strengths of the characters or the artist.

Anita visits three scenes in the course of the story: a crime scene in a suburban home, a morgue, and another suburban home to interrogate a suspect. Three scenes in 22 pages talking mostly to only two other people. Lim's simplistic style has the right vibe of idealization to capture the iconic Anita, and if all his cops look a little bit like fashion models, well, he's only building on the romance novel tone that is a part of the original series of novels.

But this month we don't have master vampire Jean-Claude (in his lace and leather getups) to pose and swoon over, and so instead the issue is more a slow-paced examination of what it is Anita does with her working life. She helps good cops solve crimes (7 pages). She visits creepy morgues with crime victims, and makes nice with the forensics staff (13 pages). She plays bad cop/good cop with perps (2 pages).

Lim tries his best to keep things interesting with dynamic camera angles and changes in expression, and he mostly pays attention to script directions involving descriptive details, but how many ways can he depict Anita bristling at those who would dismiss her, or explaining what's going on to those who don't want to believe it? She's a pint-sized force to be reckoned with, but this issue that force is so methodical you can mistake her for not doing much at all.

One piece of evidence is found, a gris-gris that looks much more benign than what it is identified as being and when it starts moving towards its owner all by itself, that's a very creepy moment indeed. Over the course of the inevitable collected edition that will come from this series of issues, I'm sure all of this exposition will be crucial. But in a monthly comic, it's clear the creators still haven't really mastered the transfer of these tales to a visual medium.






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