Elektra #1 Review
W. Haden Blackman (w), Michael Del Mundo (a), Marco D’Alfonso (c), VC’s Clayton Cowles (l)
So, let’s get this out of the way first: Elektra #1 is a gorgeous comic book. Like, seriously, unconscionably pretty. It seems to fall halfway between the muted, atmospheric color palette of Phil Noto’s work on Black Widow and the lush, elaborately stylized world of someone like Gabriele Dell’Otto, with a healthy dose of Batwoman‘s layouts. In one of my favorite artistic decisions, Del Mundo illustrates Elektra’s conversation with the Matchmaker through a grainy filter that makes Elektra seem disconnected from the conversation – a problem she doesn’t have in the book’s gorgeous opening pages, which finds her dancing through her own past… or is it bloodily dismembering ninja assassins sent to hunt her down? It’s all the same to her.
W. Haden Blackman, recently off Batwoman after DC’s frankly odd meltdown regarding the title, brings that book’s innovative visual sensibility with him, but he leaves, at least for now, its over-complicated plotting behind. That’s for the best, frankly; Elektra is a character who has, for much of her existence, been defined by innovative-bordering-on-nonsensical plotting and backstories. Blackman’s most difficult task is going to be to finding the human being beneath all that plotting, a task he mostly eludes here to show us something more simple: Elektra, working. It’s a simple definition, but it largely works thanks to some excellent world-building and, again, that art.
Elektra #1 – much like Black Widow #1 – follows our titular heroine as she seeks to reinvent herself, with the help of a knowledgeable ally capable of getting her work, after a lifetime of tragedy. But where Natasha was trying to atone for her past as a spy and assassin, Elektra retreats back into hers, enjoying the comfort of a life she knows how to live after all the uncertainty of her life with Daredevil, Bullseye, the Hand, and the Kingpin. Assisting her is the Matchmaker, who gets tips on jobs and passes them along to anyone who can get the job done. Here, Elektra’s tasked with hunting down Cape Crow, a man who has been hunting and killing assassins for decades, and protecting him from another brutal killer known as Bloody Lips. It’s a simple chase story, but Blackman does a great job at setting up the pieces and defining the stakes, particularly in the introduction of Bloody Lips as a major new foe for a heroine who has been too defined, in the past, by Daredevil’s enemies.
Like many of their individual hero titles these days, Elektra #1 is heavily indebted to the parents of modern Marvel storytelling, Waid’s Daredevil and Fraction’s Hawkeye. The art helps get you deeper into the head of our lead and her world; the writing is simple, mostly plot-driven, but with enough character-work to keep us invested and interested. While Elektra #1 sticks to that broad formula, it is unquestionably its own thing, classically pulpy in a way few Marvel books are, and Blackman and Del Mundo make an obviously excellent team almost immediately. In cutting all the chaff away from the character and giving us the basis of a solid adventure story, Blackman and Del Mundo finally create a reason to get excited to follow Elektra month in and month out.
My Rating: 4.5 / 5