HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERon June 6, 2009
Here's an interesting question: how can a series that has zombies, vampires, werewolves and all manner of supernatural threats be so BORING?
While "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse Book 1 - Animator" has plenty of promise at the beginning, it quickly degenerates into an endless stream of boring conversations, whining, and Anita pretending to be tough even as people save her from the bad guys. Laurell K. Hamilton's urban fantasy is poorly translated with too much rambling dialogue and Anita pouting and posing. All that and it ends on a cliffhanger too.
Anita accompanies her boss Bert to a rich potential client, Harold Gaynor, but is already determined not to take the case (apparently because it would involve being civil). And she's even less inclined to cooperate when she A) sees his blonde trophy girlfriend, and B) finds out the zombie he wants raised would require a human sacrifice. The she gets a call from Dolph -- there's been a gruesome murder, and it seems that whatever did it wasn't human.
Unfortunately the search for the guilty party takes her to the evil voudon priestess Dominga Salvador, who puts Anita through a series of tests -- and reveals a nasty little basement biz she has. To figure out what's going on with Salvador and Gaynor, Anita must call on some of her connections -- such as balding werewolf Irving and the rock-abbed vampire Jean-Claude -- for help, but her nosing around leads to some very grotesque visitors...
You can cram a lot of action, exposition and character development into even a slender graphic novel, especially when it's a part of a larger story. Unfortunately "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse" doesn't take advantage of that -- it just sort of oozes along, leaving a sticky trail of bickering and endless conversation, with the occasional spurt of action or zombie attacks... none of which last long enough.
In fact, the endless dialogue slows everything to a crawl -- one entire issue is devoted to Anita having three long rambling conversations with three dudes, with the result that nothing actually gets done. Everybody has long, drawn-out conversations full of stilted dialogue ("I am not your servant!" "Yes, ma petite, you are." "Dammit Jean-Claude, leave me alone!"), and the entire plot is overshadowed by Anita's boring internal musings ("I like this shirt. It hides the gun").
Additonally, it's pretty obvious that Hamilton hasn't caught on to how graphic novels work. If there's a picture of a tall thin blonde in a micromini, why do we have to hear that "the tall leggy blonde wore a dress made to cover what decency demanded, but not a stitch more"? We can see it. Why tell? Nor, sadly, does she know much about Mexicans, who are portrayed as sinister evil people who inexplicably practice voudon instead of Santeria.
It doesn't help that Anita is a pretty obnoxious heroine, and Hamilton seems to think that being rude, antisocial and not very bright equals being strong. While there are a few moments of humanity for her (her fear of Dominga), too often she's busy sneering at others and telling cops how to do their jobs. And of course, there's her insistence that she's "one of the boys" and has a big phallic gun to prove it -- despite having to be saved by Big Strong Men whenever something really bad happens.
Ron Lim's artwork is the proverbial icing -- shiny red noses, big linebacker men, and lots of crazy curly black hair. Anita's appearance is the among the worst, since her massive lips appear to be trying to eat her chin, and her rapidly inflating breasts are matched only by the waspiness of her waist. And the supposedly sexy Jean-Claude's freakish abs, pecs and groin make him look as sexually alluring as a cobblestone driveway.
"Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse" crawls by at a starving zombie's pace, without even any chills to show for it -- just endless leaden quips and conversations.