Review: ELEKTRA #1

ELEKTRA #1
Written by W. Haden Blackman
Art by Michael del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso
Published by Marvel Comics
Release date: April 22, 2014

ELEKTRA2014001_DC11_LRTake everything you’ve ever known about Elektra, hold it close to your heart then be prepared to weave it through a sci-fiction-pulp inspired tapestry. The ninja-trained assassin is looking for a little bit of a vacation from her life with a new target. Instead of finding someone to kill, she meets up with a mysterious flapper called ‘The Matchmaker,” and is being paid an obscene amount of money to protect another assassin.

This new series attempts to blend traditional strong points of Elektra’s personality — such as loss and violence — into new facets rarely (or never) explored in her world. The book then transports you through several genres with a change in scenery and supporting characters. Each character brought into the story not only affects the emotional tone of the book but the very nature of how the story is told, while Elektra is known for brutality and violence in the face of survival. Her main antagonist, who has his sights set on the same target as her ups the blood sport by adding a spiritual, supernatural and perhaps schizophrenic level cannibalism to the battle. Also, the first person he targets on his way to finding that target leads him straight to someone who’s history with Elektra is epic.

From ninja fights to a 1930s office complex, from a backwoods swamp guarded by sci-fi sentries and finally ending in the Land of the Lost,  this combination of creators are not leaving any barriers on Elektra’s new solo adventure. The unusual combination may leave long-time fans scratching their heads. However, when the opportunity for a second, then a third (and dare I say a fourth) read takes place there are multitudes of nuances to explore. The high body-count and action sequences do not hurt. Bloody Lips’ inner thoughts combined with flashbacks and unsettling imagery might take some back. It is not the clearest part of the story. However, he is a new style of assassin, fascinating to explore and just insane enough to cause true problems for Elektra. Previously, her largest challenges dealt with large numbers of guns coming after her, not a single fractured mind. With selective inner-monologues, and a lead character obviously searching for herself, hopefully there will be more opportunities to explore just what makes Elektra tick.

Elektra has suffered from somewhat of an identity crisis since her original appearance in Frank Miller’s original Daredevil. In it, she was an assassin created out of loss and revenge for the death of her father. However, through death from Bullseye, mystically and mentally powered resurrection, attempts at rebellion from The Hand, The Kingpin and other overlords, plus temporary reform from her brutal path was tackled by many brilliant writers such as Bendis, Rucka and more. However, all these stories are overshadowed by exploitative artwork in previous series or nearly used as a prop for violence without working within her established identity.

Not only does Blackman take dramatic steps to change this perception of Elektra through an unusual story, but del Mundo and D’Alfonso create breath-taking artwork that looks like it would be more at home in a gallery than traditionally seen on a comic page. Marvel Comics has done a wonderful job of embracing less-than-typical superhero style artwork for its MarvelNOW! series. Elektra uses grainy and muted color palettes that still contrast to provide movement and action. Fans of Black Science might see some similarities and enjoy the action sequences toward the end the most. Michael Del Mundo has drawn overlapping action panel layouts that are separated not by traditional boxes but organic shapes, blood and action within the pages. When introducing Elektra he uses the lines of blood and dance to separate thoughts. When introducing her inevitable foil, named Bloody Lips, the same layout reappears but separated with swamp, branches and snakes. Elektra and Bloody Lips introductions to the audience are a beautiful antithesis, providing different sides to the same coin of violence.

The Verdict: 9.0/10

 

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4 Comments

  1. samuel said:

    I remember when marvel seemingly printed 0 female lead comics but they been coming with vengeance! I am picking up Black widow, and about to try out she-hulk and Elektra. The decisions marvel is making with their artist is brilliant makes each book special and I can’t get enough. I wish I discovered some of these books late (like Hawkeye) so there were more issues out for me to get!

  2. clint said:

    I’ve heard great things about Black Widow, but haven’t been getting it. I’ll wait for the trade on that one. Ms. Marvel rapidly has become my favorite series these past three months. You should definitely look into that book. She-Hulk is a little slower. I wasn’t sold on it until issue three, and I would have dropped it by then if it wasn’t for the gorgeous cover art. Elektra had an superb debut. I can’t wait to see her series unfold.
    And, while I’m on the subject of excellent books with female leads, you should also try Wonder Woman at DC and Simone’s Red Sonja at Dynamite. I know I said that Ms. Marvel has become my favorite current book, but it is actually tied with Wonder Woman. If you’re going to try WW, you’ll need to start at #1. Azzarello is telling an epic and is about to wrap it up this fall.

  3. samuel said:

    Oh I am definitely reading Wonder Woman already. Soule work on Superman/Wonder Woman made me pick up she-hulk and I am looking forward to issue #4

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