Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vampire Victim

I didn't wanna bundle this with the Guilty Pleasures comics, mainly because it has nothing to do with them. So I'm going to review this little turd on its own!

So here's the cover:

Reverse Anita Blake (funny, she doesn't look like Harry Dresden)

Well, it's not really a cover, but it's the closest thing you'll get. And normally I'd say that it sucks, because this whole reversed-color black-and-white thing makes it impossible to see anything except Anita's giant headbush. But in the case of Brett Booth's crappy AB artwork, it's just as well. This is the front cover of this crappy comic book COMPILATION:

I'm so goth I shit bats!

Yeah, I wish the entire comic were like that reversed-color cover. Then we wouldn't be treated to Anita's freaky coloring, absurd proportions and air of Hot Topic menace. Anywhere, where was I?

So it's time to be terrified by baaaaaddddd artwork and exposition that makes no fucking sense: Once upon a time, you could kill a vampire on sight. Allow me to explain: in the Anita Blake series, vampires, weres and magic have always existed and people have always known about them. But because Laurell K. Hamilton's vampires are obsessed with sex and etiquette and the weres are incapable of handling democracy, we pathetic powerless weakling humans inexplicably managed to create a civilization EXACTLY like the real-life one while bullying and killing vamps/weres for centuries.

Yeah, it makes no fucking sense. Realistically, if vampires existed they would have conquered the world centuries ago and human civilization would be wildly different - I doubt the world wars would have happened, for instance. Who wants their food supply to decimate itself?! See Vampire Hunter D books for a semi-realistic look at how a world with vampires would turn out!

LKH's concepts might have made sense if vampires/weres were new developments, small in numbers, or if humans had some realistic form of defense against their superhuman strength/speed, Suey mind powers, hypnotic gaze, and sexual magic (or if they, y'know, had realistically limited powers!). But no, she just plopped vampires and weres in our everyday world, with no backstory or thought to how this would change the world.

Then again, this is the author who actually sees her shortcomings as virtues:

Lady, any schmucko can take the fantastical and make it ordinary.... as in mundane, boring, unmemorable. It takes talent and skill to take the ordinary and make it fantastical.

Rant now over.

So anyway, our story opens with some poor vampire being chased by a guy with a.... phaser.

Yeah the seriousness of this situation is kinda undermined by the vampire. Not only does he look hilariously goofy in that pose, but I can't get over his pink boxer shorts. It's like if Dracula was wearing fuzzy bedroom slippers and a feather boa.

Also, what the hell is with the guy in the green pants? Not only are his thighs freakishly huge (and not the same size!) but it looks like his bullets are going off at weird angles and splitting off from each other. They also appear to be going at right angles from his gun muzzle. Good luck shooting any vampires with that!

Amazingly, he manages to shoot the vampire not once but twice, despite having bullets that choose their own directions at random.

Noooo! My packets of strawberry jelly!

Poor guy. Well, at least he's out of his misery and now longer starring in an Anita Blake comic.

So the mall security unsurprisingly wants to know why this guy was running amuck and murdering people, especially since they're surrounded by nice families and children who could easily have been killed by those weird bullets he was happily shooting all over the place with a giant crazy grin.

Uh, wait. I take it back. I just checked on who's at the mall:

So we have a pregnant chick with a belly top, a little girl with chopped-off pigtails, a woman with terrifyingly large thighs and creeping red hair, and a white-haired guy with no eyes and a leotard. This is a typical collection of Americans at the mall?!?! Even more terrifying, are they a FAMILY?

So anyway the cops are aiming guns at the vampire-hunter dude, and the vampire hunter dude deflects all their suspicions by saying, "No, he's a vampire. He's not human." Duuuuuuuurrrrrrr, really? The colorless skin and giant fangs (see above picture) weren't evidence enough that this dude was a vampire? They need to be TOLD?

And suddenly the cops are patting him on the shoulder and shaking his hand, saying "Thanks for your help in getting rid of this thing," to which the guy modestly replies, "It's what I do."

And if you're Anita Blake, this never changes at all. You could rape and rip off the head of a vampire in the middle of a kindergarten class, and never suffer the slightest legal inconvenience.

Oh, and this entire scene is unintentionally made silly because of the giant banana. No, I'm not joking: there is a giant banana over the dead vampire, and it just completely photobombs this otherwise dramatic picture:

Later in the series, that banana wouldn't be metaphorical!

I mean... WHY A BANANA? If you're showing a dead vampire (who appears to be sitting up by himself, since his back obviously isn't against that sign), why put a giant fruit over his head? It's very distracting.

So we then cut to a similar scene, with Anita narrating, "Then Addison v. Clarke went through the Supreme Court." My big question is: who were Addison and Clarke, and what exactly were the legal details of this case? Answer: we don't know, because we're never told. That's boring compared to Anita telling us about her arsenal of guns!

So now we have a similar set-up in the exact same mall, with a vampire running away from a.... cyborg?

  1. I love the lobotomized look on the vampire's face! "Durrrrrrrr.... I is been shot at?"
  2. Assume what you will about the whole "pretty = good" aspect of the LKHverse, but note that the guy about to be arrested for attempted murder is ugly and scarred.
  3. Oh for the love of fuckery! Was the author so damn lazy that he just switched out the vampires and vampire hunters?! Not only is the gun shooting in the EXACT SAME impossible way, in the exact same mall, with the exact same background figures, but he has the EXACT SAME PEOPLE standing behind him! That slutty pregnant chick is still pregnant! That little girl's hair has not grown out! That dude is still wearing a leotard! HELL, even the BANANA is still there!
  4. I've actually had people mention that this comes across as kinda racist, with the vaguely "ethnic" (as LKH would say) vampire hunter in tattered clothes chasing the hipster vampire. But having blown up and examined pictures of this guy... I honestly don't know WHAT ethnicity he's supposed to be. 

So you can guess how this will go: he pins down the vampire, and the cops arrive and aim their guns at him. He says, "No, he's a vampire. He's not human," just like the other guy. The difference is that this time the cops take him away in cuffs.

... and apparently nobody can tell by looking that I am!

Honestly, I'd like to know if this guy has suffered brain damage, since he's got giant gouges in his skull and what appears to be the world's biggest black eye (and no, I don't know how you'd get an injury like that). Anyway, he doesn't seem to understand what's going on, so I can only assume that HOLY MACARONI what is up with that woman behind them?! Her thighs and hips look like a fucking fertility idol!

Oh, and in case you're wondering what happened to this poor vampire, the cops just sort of leave him passed out under the banana. Yeah.

And in the background Anita is watching the whole debacle. Yeah she's that vague face and blob of dark hair behind the white cop's shoulder. You really wouldn't have seen her unless I blew up the picture.

Yeah, apparently Anita just hangs around sleazy-looking malls so she can monologue. And sadly, this art is pretty much par for the course from Brett Booth - Anita looks like some sort of caricature of Lara Croft, with ginormous lips and tits, a wasp waist, a giant mass of untidy hair that she keeps as long as possible for no discernible reason, and a surly expression at all times.

"If a vampire breaks the law, I get called."

Heeeeeere bitchy bitchy bitchy bitchy!

"I'm a duly designated, licensed vampire executioner..."

Of course, vampire executioner licenses must be easier to get than driver's licenses, because you literally don't need ANY expertise to become one. It's like one of those rackets where you can become a certified minister online for fifty bucks.

"... and I'm the one that gets called to kill the monster once and for all."

Just in case you care, she used the phrase "get called" twice in two sentences. Also, this comment sounds very dramatic until you realize that Anita is being literal - she doesn't have to restrain, knock out, or capture the vampire. She just hacks off the head while the cops hold the vampire down.

"I'm Anita Blake, and this is my world."

And by that, she means she'll be ruling the supernatural world in about five books.

Without any transition, we're suddenly at a crime scene, and Anita is looking at a dead body in a giant pool of blood. As usual, Anita is telling the cops stuff that they should know already!

One of these things is not like the other!

"Now, Ronald, drink up your blood or your fangs won't grow big and sharp."
"But mooooooommmmm..."

Seriously, why is Anita having to tell us this? Shouldn't the cops KNOW this crap already, since they presumably deal with a lot of crimes, some of them vampire-related? Wouldn't they have courses at the police academy about the hallmarks of a vampire kill, and how to tell them apart from copycats? Answer: of course they would! But that's logic! And it has no place in this story!

Also, don't you love how everybody in this world has skin-tight clothes? Even the cops are wearing pants so tight you can see their leg muscles.

... so undead creatures BIOLOGICALLY CHANGE when they become undead? Their bodies stay 99% the same structurally... but somehow their SALIVARY glands change?! Out of EVERYTHING ELSE?!


But again, no answers. Anita recites the bleedin' obvious by saying:

Or, y'know, maybe he was caught by somebody or heard someone coming, and had to run for it.

Just so you know, this woman is supposed to be paid insane amounts of money for her expertise, such as mentioning that vampires like blood. In other news, fish like water, dogs like bones, and Anita likes penis. THANK YOU, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!

So while the elderly cop makes this face, he also asks Anita, "You're a vampire executioner. Why are you defending these bastards?" Because of course, cops are all bigots and none of them would be neutral or pro-vampire, and they wouldn't at all respect the alleged rights of the vampires. According to Hamilton later in the series, she writes them that way because she thinks all cops would secretly be terrified that vampires are better in bed than them. No, I'm not joking. She actually wrote that!

Anita takes the moral high ground by sneering that, "Because vampires are citizens like the rest of us, according to the courts. You wouldn't want a citizen executed if they're innocent, would you?" This would be more convincing if Anita had not said in The First Death that...

So basically Anita just takes the opposite viewpoint of whoever's talking. If someone thinks all vampires are evil, she gets all snooty about how they're legal citizens and implies that the other person is an evil bigot. If someone worries about innocent vampires being executed, she puts on the jaded, I'm-world-wearier-than-you! act and implies that the other person is a naive idiot. Our heroine, ladies and gents! Screwing people over for her own benefit!

Anyway, the old cop comments that, "I know the law," just so Anita can sneer at him, "Then act like it, officer." I hate her. So rather than giving Anita further chances to bitch at him, the officer demands that Anita explain the fang marks. Anita's explanation?

I haz a biology major!

This actually seems semi-plausible, if rather short-sighted since there are plenty of other places for it to feed from. But anyway, this is LKH's attempt to impress us with her knowledge of biology, because (as she tells us frequently) she has a biology degree/major. The problem is, she also approved the artwork for vampires in this comic book. As in, all the vampire depictions were run by and approved by her. So here are some vampires shown in these books.

I'm not going to bother with any more, because honestly I've wasted too many brain cells already. I'm not sure how long those look, but they're not the longest ones in this series. Those sure as hell aren't tiny. Sure, they're not HUUUUUUGEEEEE but they aren't tiny either.

So Anita lectures us on how movies get it AAAALLLLL wrong, even though it makes no fucking sense because movies would have had access to information on ACTUAL vampires in a world where they've always existed. So why are we spending so long hearing Anita ramble about how she knows everything and everyone else knows nothing? Because LKH wants to impress us with how "real" her imaginary undead with their hypnotic magical powers, sex-fu and "sonic boom" speed.

  1. I love how she says "wannabe" as if it were some sort of special term that only experienced experts know.
  2. That cop just rolls his eyes all the time!
  3. No, a "wannabe" by definition is somebody who wants to be something, not someone pretending to be that something. A person pretending to be something is a POSER. A good example: Anita Blake, who pretends to be smart, knowledgeable and cool!

The cop asks an excellent question: "If the perp wants it this bad, then why not just go down to the Church of Eternal Life and join up? Why not become a bloodsucker for real." Since this is all guesswork, Anita just says that maybe the guy wanted to see if he liked bloodsucking before he became a vampire for real. Which really doesn't make any fucking sense, since there's no reason for a human to enjoy sucking blood like a vampire would.

Then again, this is all just a buildup for Anita to dramatically spread her arms, thus allowing us to see her horribly dated fringed jacket.

  1. Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I seem to remember Anita saying this in one of the early books. Yet another example of Hamilton chewing up and regurgitating her own work?
  2. Yes, they pay her to say shit like this. Because nobody else could possibly figure out that becoming a vampire is your life's (or death's) HUGEST COMMITMENT. Only Anita has these insights!
  3. I'm with the cop in this panel. That's the same facepalmy expression I have right now.

So then a bunch of blue-suited men run into the room, and rather than looking at the dead body in a giant pool of blood, they immediately pay attention to Anita. I guess they're cops, because one of them says, "How'd you get here before us? We usually call you in," and Anita replies that, "I was just down the street at the cemetery, when RIPIT called me." Uhhhhh... when we last saw her, she was hanging around a sleazy mall, glowering at nothing.

This would be a great time for Anita's annoying inner monologue to tell us what RIPIT is, but instead we get clumsy expositional dialogue from that cop guy we don't know:

  1. Yes, infodump that name! Do it as clumsily as possible! 
  2. Uh, it's "rest in peace," not "rest in piece." The latter doesn't make any sense; it would only work as "rest in pieceS!"
  3. And... how the hell does "regional preternatural team" translate to RIP? That should be RPT!

Anita announces that "Sergeant Storr doesn't like to be referred to as RIP. RIPIT is as close as he likes it." Well, here's a thought: why don't you call it RPT? It doesn't even make sense to say that those letters put together would sound like "ripit," because it WOULDN'T. It would sound like "ript." In fact, say RIPIT out loud. It sounds like a frigging frog.

The answer: LKH wanted to have a "clever" title for them, but apparently couldn't come up with anything that added up to "RIP."

The rest of the page is painfully boring as Anita makes small-talk with the cop. I'd think she was flirting with him, except that we all know Anita only likes guys that she can control somehow, so cops are out of the equation. She babbles about raising a zombie for a client because of his therapist's stupid advice, because he needs a last farewell or something. Client confidentiality is for wusses!

The cop asks, "How'd it go?" Anita smirks and says, "About how you think it would go." He says, "Ick." Uhhhhh... am I missing something here? How should I think it would go?

As for the art, there are two things to note here. This guy looks like a long-necked Peter Lorre...

... and the second guard has completely vanished. You know, the blonde guy in the first panel of the actual story? He's vanished. We get a wide shot of the room, and he is nowhere to be seen.

See? He's nowhere to be seen.

Actually, I'm amazed that the body is still there, because the poor dude is pretty much being ignored. They're chitchatting about Anita's rarely-seen job, and not paying attention to the CORPSE on the floor. But of course, this ties into LKH's belief that anybody who sees corpses on a semi-regular basis is SO jaded and casual about it that they don't even pay attention to the DEAD GUY.

And we get another super-boring shot of Anita sneering, "What kind of forensic guy says ICK?" Uhhh, so you only get to be on forensics duty if NOTHING in the world grosses you out, including nasty emotional scenes involving zombies? The guy replies, "This kind of forensic guy. Which reminds me, I better supervise these guys."

And somebody offscreen says, "We don't need no stinking supervision." No, we never find out who that was. It could be a talking dog for all we know!

And isn't this just what you want to see when you read a story called Vampire Victim? A story about Anita standing around being bitchy while other people talk?

So suddenly some skinny blond vampire guy appears out of nowhere.

... and of course, he's wearing a skin-tight aqua shirt with.... "umber naked lacrosse" on the chest. Apparently heroin chic is always in for the vampires, because he's bone thin. How come chubby people never become vampires? Why are they always in their twenties? Has a fortysomething never decided to become a vampire?

So this guy just sorta stands there, and... smirks for some reason. How does Anita deal with this?

She... rolls her eyes. I don't get it. But don't worry, her big dramatic reaction is coming up! It's going to be awesome! I'm sure it will be! She's going to... to...

... roll her eyes downward. What the hell is she doing? Is she having some kind of weird eye seizure? It just doesn't convey anything!

So Anita announces, "You guys didn't do this one," regardless of the fact that she's been saying the same damn thing ever since this never-ending scene started. The cops react with shock for some reason.

This is a really bizarre picture, honestly. Not only is Anita's hair apparently twice as wide as the head it's attached to, but the vampire guy isn't even paying attention to her. He's staring straight at the reader, looking quizzical. Apparently nobody told him that he shouldn't stare at the camera.

This is the cue for all the cops to draw their guns because he has such an awesome sense of smell, and that is soooooooo scawy! No seriously, they draw their guns because he's a vampire. Uhhhh... wait, I thought these guys were with forensics? Are forensics guys/girls armed? I'm so confused.

Anyway, one of the cops says, "He's a vamp? Hell, I couldn't tell." Yeah, that's because LKH makes her characters as dumb as possible so Anita will look smart by comparison. Let's recap:

  • he has fangs, which he showed in a previous panel.
  • he's the color of toilet paper. Seriously, he's paler than Anita, who is supposed to be the pastiest pale person SINCE EVER.
  • HE FUCKING SAID SO. He said "defending us" and "our executioner." Just how explicit does he have to get?! "Thank you for defending us, and by 'us' I mean NOSFERATU, BLOODSUCKERS, THE CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT! I didn't expect it from our executioner, THE PERSON WHO KILLS VAMPIRES LIKE UUUUUSSSSS."

Of course, this whole ridiculous scene is just to make Anita look like the just, law-abiding person who isn't like those evil bigot cops. After all, she would never put out a hit on a man who rejected her sexually, beat up innocent housewives, kill assorted weres/vamps outside the law, rape, try to pin a crime on random people just because she can, torture even contemplate shooting a vampire without cause! After all, that's what the demonized police are for, since they're all mean bigots, and unless she were around to police THEM, they would go around killing vampires at random.

"Put the guns away. You can't shoot him just for being a vampire." Yeah, sez the woman who once tried to pin a crime on two random vampires because... they were in the story. The old guard says, "Two years ago, we could"which is not really much of an answer. Anita responds by... um...

... lunges forward with her hands held out, her eyes rolling, and a weird orgasm face. Yes, this clearly means that Anita means business. Then again... maybe it does, since later in the series, this is probably her expression when her boytoys take turns railing her.

And she keeps squealing about how, "Now they're citizens with rights." Yeah, except some of the important ones like, say, being entitled to trial by a jury of your peers. They don't get that, they get a crazy short woman with phallic weapons. Makes you wonder if they don't get to vote either. "You can't just go around shooting people, officers. Put down the guns." But you CAN kill them with zombies. That's just fine... but guns, nooooooo.

This is stupid on so many levels, especially the suggestion that an insane, violent loose cannon like Anita would have to lecture COPS on the legality of vampires, and how they're allowed to act. It's even more ridiculous to have her insisting that you can't just go around shooting people... which is coming from the woman who once aimed a gun at a guy for mildly annoying her.

In case you're wondering, the vampire is just standing there looking bored through all this. He doesn't seem even slightly worried; he looks more like he's wondering when he can go get paid for this crappy role.

Since LKH hasn't finished crapping all over the cops, we get this exchange... because we haven't had the Big Points hammered into our skulls hard enough.

Interesting fact: if you look at what Anita says, she doesn't actually answer any of his questions. She just spouts off rewarmed phrases that sound like they came off of pamphlets. The "the law says they're people, so they're people" thing is especially stupid - if the law says that sea monkeys are people, then legally they are regarded as such... but that doesn't change that they're sea-monkeys. And according to the law, the vampires are NOT people. People are accorded certain rights in this country, and the vampires do not have those rights, or else people like Anita wouldn't exist. I have seen DOGS with more legal rights than the vampires in the LKHverse have.

Also "because a murder scene spooked them"? Uhhh, the vampire wasn't spooked. He was perfectly calm. He's being threatened because he's a vampire, not because he freaked out or anything. Was there a scene cut from this comic, or did LKH just forget what was going on again?

So because Anita is so tough and take-charge, she needs a man to come in and take charge. Enter Dolph:

Yeah, he looks like a gorilla with body baldness, doesn't he? Except gorillas tend to have higher brows and thinner necks.

He orders the cops to stand down, and... I guess they do. We don't SEE them stand down, but when we next see them, they're just sort of standing around looking heartbroken. I didn't know that shooting vampires was so important for them! Don't worry, cops. You'll have other chances to randomly point guns at vampires, and have Anita squall at you that you're not allowed to do that!

  1. Look carefully and you'll notice that the blonde cop has mysteriously reappeared. Where was he all this time?!
  2. And suddenly Anita has bypassed "Lara Croft" and turned into a borderline crone, with Cthulhu-like tentacles of hair creeping across her face. Damn.
  3. Dolph is obviously high as a kite here. He's got no expression at all, his eyes are rolled up, and you can almost hear him going "Duuuuurrrrrrr...."

But in the next panel he's suddenly scowling, and announcing, "We have a suspect in custody." A page-wide panel is then devoted to the two of them... watching the cops play charades.

So then Zerbrowski shows up literally out of nowhere, and cheerily announces, "Well, when you find a guy covered in blood, throwing up in a stairwell, with huge fake fangs in his mouth, muttering over and over, 'It's not like they say it is,' we kinda thought that was a clue." ... fake fangs? Have you ever tried to bite someone with fake fangs?! They're so soft and blunt that you'd be more likely to hurt yourself! How could you even bite someone hard enough to kill them?!

Zerbrowski then adds, "Of course, if our heap-big preternatural expert tells us we're wrong..." Heap big? Wow, add implicit racism to the heap of flaws here. So Anita smirks and says, "It is so nice when the suspects catch themselves."




What. The. HELL.

So what was the fucking point of even having Anita IN this comic? So she could stand there and lecture cops on why they suck compared to her? She didn't even do a single bit of detective work, just sat on her enormous bloated ass while other people did all the actual work. She didn't even WALK AROUND THE BUILDING to look for clues, which would have turned up the killer. Why was this bitch even IN THIS COMIC?

And for that matter, why couldn't LKH come up with an actual crime that a five-year-old couldn't solve? There's no mystery here! RIPIT wasn't actually needed at all! A special group like them should only have been called in once the cops had made sure that the criminal wasn't, I dunno, HIDING IN THE STAIRWELL. So the best that LKH can do to show off the skills of her awe-inspiring Sue and her soon-to-be-demonized sidekicks is THIS?!

But we're not done with crapping on cops and talking for no reason. Anita goes back into her usual scowl-with-hair-over-face, and waves her entire hand at the guys who were aiming guns at the vampire. Generally we use a single finger to point, not the whole hand. But since Anita is supposed to be freakishly hobbity, maybe she thinks one of her fingers will be invisible to a big tall man.

So since Anita can't successfully tell anyone else off - our tough kickass heroine, ladies and gents! - Dolph has to do it, griping at the cops that "You're supposed to think about doing your job. Now go and do it." Which... doesn't really address the whole threatening-vampires thing.

So as the cops... wander aimlessly off into the darkness, the vampire thanks Anita again. Which is her cue to be a bitch.

Zerbrowski's talking to her hair tentacle

You know, this vampire seems like a very nice, polite guy, so I feel sorry for him since Anita decides to sneer when he thanks her. Would it be too unobtrusive for her to just say, "Don't mention it"? Or just nod? Does she have to throw it in the guy's face that she despises him?

This launches us into half a page that tries very, very hard to establish Anita as a force for the Law.

The vampire asks why Anita saved him, and Anita replies, "Because the law says that I'm supposed to save you." Uh, no it doesn't, it just says that you're not supposed to KILL him. She's not the fricking vampire police. He says, "But you still think I'm a monster," and Anita looks sad for no reason and agrees. And I play the world's tiniest violin, then set it on fire.

Dolph tells the vampire dude to go back to his apartment, which leaves the RIPIT guys with Anita. Whoopdifreakingdoo.

Yes, this is a wonderfully inspiring moment, sullied slightly by the fact that HOLY CRAPPITY what is up with Anita's thighs? Aren't thigh muscles supposed to make your thighs look thinner, not like alien larvae stuffed into a sausage casing. And Zerbrowski's getting quite a potbelly, isn't he? He looks like a creepy old man having a midlife crisis.

Also, the whole "It wasn't a vampire tonight" "But it might be one tomorrow" exchange sounds very cool until you realize that these people have shown absolutely no skills in this comic book. None! They did the sort of thing that a six-year-old with a magnifying glass could do. And the plot turns out to be a big attempt to convince us that Anita cares about law and order... despite her attitudes throughout the entire series. Bleah.

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