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Anita Blake, The Laughing Corpse - Executioner #1

Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2009
By: Shawn Hill

Laurell K. Hamilton, adapted by Jess Ruffner
Ron Lim, Laura Villari (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Anita Blake, The Laughing Corpse - Executioner #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, October 28.

Plot: Anita and Dominga come face to face in just the way Anita likes it, with the cops on her side. But Dominga's sweet old lady act doesn't crack for some time.

Comments: A much better issue than the last (that inexplicably starts a new arc, right in the middle of the current one: I've given up on trying to work out the title of this series, there's no way to make the issues file in order that I can think of), this issue has more fun with the talking heads concept of the last few, and even throws in an action scene towards the end. Remember those?

The bizarre cliffhanger from last issue (of a witch's charm crawling towards its master across wall-to-wall carpet) is immediately continued this issue, as the antics of the animated item make it clear that Dominga made it. She's got nerves of steel in front of the police, though, as they search her house looking for further evidence of her voodoo.

Also present are the brother of another voodoo priest she may have killed, several officers, members of Dominga's family, and Anita's foremost police Ally, Dolph. He thinks he's using Anita as a tool in his investigation of supernatural crime, and she knows his reliable work can only augment her own (as an executioner of those who commit supernatural crimes that kill or assault others). The tension between them generally makes for good dialogue, and every discussion in this seemingly benign sitting room is charged with barely contained passion.

Lim captures the dynamics, of Dolph being hard-nosed, of Anita fearing for her life from the voodooienne (and great resenting the feeling), of Dominga's malice and John Burke's righteous anger, of the fear of Dominga's grandson (who may be her weakest link) with clarity and grace. In fact, this issue recalls the satirical tone of the issues involving St. Louis's former Master vampire, who looked like a delicate ballerina but was really a centuries-old demon. Lim's tightly wound little grandma looks ready to kill, and her threats sound flinty and dead-serious as she finds herself cornered by honest police work.

Things are going very well, in fact, until the final action sequence, where Anita and the cops close in on the zombie revenant that may have been committing the murders. Poor storytelling (whether from writer or artist is unclear) makes the sequence more confusing than mysterious, especially when Anita is shooting a zombie in one panel and all alone in the grass in the next.

Over the course of the inevitable collected edition that will come from this series of issues, it will probably make more sense. But in a monthly comic, it's clear the creators still haven't really mastered the transfer of this story to a serial format. The story breaks and the ever-changing titles seem quite arbitrary.






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