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Anita Blake, The Laughing Corpse - Executioner #5

Posted: Tuesday, March 16, 2010
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 #5 arrives in stores tomorrow, March 17.

Plot: Anita finally raises the corpse so old it required a human sacrifice. But she doesn't stop there, as her captors have unleashed much more than they bargained for.

Comments: This final chapter in the Anita vs. Dominga arc is the best yet, the culmination of the seething voodoo undercurrents that have made the story alternately gross, intriguing, scary and bizarre thus far. We see here a battle of morality, between a legally sanctioned executioner of the undead, and a voodoo queen willing to corrupt her art for profit and power.

Lim has found his best setting yet, a graveyard at night full of eldritch power. Anita, in jeans and a t-shirt with her mass of black curls, stands at the center of a circle of power, one Lim illustrates by showing all the grass and headstones bending away from her. She's just made her human sacrifice to raise the unwilling dead, only it wasn't her intended victim, the unfortunate Wheelchair Wanda. Instead, it turned out to be the two henchmen who tortured Anita and threatened her life. This rush of righteous vengeance is enough to flood Anita with power, power that no one suspected she had.

She stands at the center of the ritual like Dark Phoenix triggered from Jean's basest desires, but Anita's power has a natural, rather than an alien, origin. The crucible she's been through in recent issues have prepared her for this next step in the assumption of her destined role as Necromancer, and she knows this much power must be wielded wisely. If in a rather decidedly Old Testament manner, where the punishment ruthlessly fits the crime.

So Anita not only raises the zombie wanted by her would-be employer and captor (for pecuniary reasons of no concern to her), she raises everybody in the graveyard, no matter how old. And as it's her spell, Dominga has no say in the matter. Not even when Anita then sets the zombies on her tormentors, whose history of murder and coercion makes them ripe for execution, Anita Blake-style. Wheelchair Wanda actually, pitifully, pleads for the life of Harold Gaynor, the man who was planning to sacrifice her to get at his money, but Anita brooks no mercy to one she's found so wanting. The zombies do her bidding and destroy her foes, and then she uses the remaining power to put them all back to rest.

Does this make her morally compromised, when her police allies question her the next morning, curious as to the disappearances of Gaynor and Dominga? They were threats of such a nature that the police would be hard-pressed to contain them; Anita's legal status gives her executionary rights over supernatural threats that are homicidal. It's a little dicey, but one understands her feelings after the impossible situations Gaynor forced upon her.

On the way out of the cemetery, Jean-Claude appears, called by her power. He's too strong to do her bidding like the other undead, but their dance has begun, and it's one that will ultimately make them the power couple of St. Louis, at least amongst the ghouls, goblins and demi-gods. For this reader of the original novels, Marvel has clearly found a team capable of interpreting them for the comics world.

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