Editor's Note: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures #9 arrives in stores tomorrow, March 5.
Plot: Anita follows clues to the killer of vampires to the vampire-run Church of Eternal Life. Has she uncovered a vampire civil war? She has at least called forth an assassin, who takes aim at both Anita and her colleague, private detective Ronnie Sims, on the steps of the "church."
Comments: Ron Lim's years of experience shows on this title, as he has stepped seamlessly into Brett Booth's shoes. In fact, his similar streamlined, cartoonish style is perhaps even better suited to the material. Rather than an ocean of beautiful bodies in leather, Lim creates distinctly different characters with an array of body types and differentiating aspects. His Nikolaus is a deceptively delicate ballerina in hard porcelain, his Reverend Malcolm definitely the "Billy Graham of vampirism" that Anita describes, and his Anita is a tousle-haired dynamo of energy. Interestingly, Chung's colors have pulled back on making her skin as icy as that of the vampires, and this important contrast underlines her struggle between her human side and her occult abilities.
This second half of the adaptation of the original novel has been a more action-packed version of the story than the somewhat detached and attenuated first six issues. Ruffner cleaves to Hamilton's plots, if not every word, and thereby captures more of the particular flair of the title character. Her guilt at putting her friends in the line of fire (and her dysfunctional caretaker and control issues) are strongly expressed in this issue, as she tries to take responsibility for every ounce of pain the vampires inflict on the humans she knows. This excessive sense of obligation gets Anita into worse and worse trouble, but the attraction of her character is that she's often able to back up her tough words against much more powerful villains. She's an anomaly to everyone she meets.
This issue makes it clear that Jean-Claude is more than just a threat to her celibate love-life, as we get the first hints of what he's up to. We get most of them from Nikolaus herself, an established leader who doesn't take well to upstarts breeding revolt in the ranks. A confrontation between her and Anita has been building for months. Lim and Ruffner seem perfectly poised to deliver it, and soon.
Which is all for the better, because this is all about the love story of Anita and her impending suitor, too.
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