Let me start this off by saying I hate Wolverine. He’s put on the hat of savage beast, the hat of calm and balanced samurai, and the hat of caustic and rugged survivalist. By this point he’s put on so many hats he’s buried under tired troupes and clichés. If I were to fix him, I would pick one aspect of his character and focus on that one thing. Well, it seems Marvel has taken my advice to heart—no, they didn’t fix Wolverine. Instead they found one aspect of his character and put an electron microscope on it. So now we get a book all about martial prowess and deadly assassinations—except the book is called “Elektra” and it has Elektra.
I’m going to describe a scenario that best describes my feelings towards this book. Imagine a festival, a world championship. In it, the organizers have summoned the very best, weeding out the amateurs and leaving simply the cream of the crop. Without a doubt, this is a festival exploring only the best. Now what if this was a world Polka championship? Even the staunchest anti-accordion enthusiast would have to agree that this is the highest quality Polka ever in existence, despite how much they despise the actual music. That’s how I feel about “Elektra”. I’ve always disliked Elektra stories, no matter who they put on her team. Dark and broody assassin stories simply aren’t my cup of tea. However, as I flipped through this newest “Elektra” I became very worried about how little I could criticize it. Everything about the book is tight. The story is deep without being convoluted; action scenes are vibrant without being excessive, exposition—while heavy doesn’t weigh down the momentum. And the art—Oh God! The Art…
One of the only things that made me angry at this book was that it pretty much does away with panels. And the reason I’m mad at this isn’t because it isn’t good—it just makes it much more difficult to put snippets of it in the article. Almost every page is a full page spread of the most gorgeous art that I have ever seen. And by art, I mean it is masterpiece put on the page for us unappreciative, nerdy fanboys (and girls) to ogle. The work that must have gone into the perfection of the art—not to mention the layout within the work. Because these full page spreads aren’t splash pages. Action is still continuously happening; Elektra is killing one ninja after the other. But the lack of panels means all of this action is continuously flowing. It’s a river of action, a thrust then a kick, followed by a dodge and a stab. Each layout belays a sequence of events and the quickness of which it happened, compelling in its equal parts beauty and action—Yeah I know I’m not being very funny, but they’re not making it very easy on me are they. Even the characters are separate and distinct entities.
Yes, Elektra is Elektra. She’s just as broody and murderous as she has always been. But it’s not so bad when in contrast to these other unique and wonderful characters that are poured into the mix. First, there’s Elektra’s handler whose a spunky socialite adorned in fantastic flapper fashion. She brings a levity that is desperately needed in such a dark setting. Then, the antagonist of the series is introduced. There are few villains that are introduced nowadays where I feel an immediate urgency and danger is present. But from the instant the villain stabs his first SHIELD agent with his sneaky appear, to the panel where he steals something very deadly and familiar to Elektra, he feels like a viable threat.
It’s not very necessary to talk about the story at this early point in time. The book starts off, essentially, how all Elektra stories start. “Elektra, go kill person.” If things don’t grow in depth and complexity, it won’t ruin the book. At worst, it’d be another beautiful and mindless action book. A book with violence as integral to the story and the art as the characters on the page. Imagine “Invincible” without the over the top blood and gore in its fight scenes. There are panels where broken bones are forced through the skin and I have never seen that much blood inside a person, never mind that it’s pouring from their eye sockets. But it’s a defining characteristic of the story. Everyone expects a serious fight to involve buckets and buckets of gore. For God’s sake, Atom Eve was punched in half. If “Elektra” keeps on track, things will only get better.