Elektra has always been a tragic character, one that I’ve both loved and hated over the years. Her on-again-off-again love affair with Daredevil, her infamous death at the hands of Bullseye and her long-standing career as an assassin par excellence have made her one of Marvel’s more controversial characters. She can kill like the Punisher but there’s something a little softer about her that a lot of people really like. I admit that my enjoyment of the character depends heavily on what period of her life she’s in, but Marvel has decided to put out another series starring the assassin in red and so into her world I must dive once again.
Here’s my take on the first arc of Elektra, a story called Bloodlines.
We start off, as has become common, with Elektra desperate to get out of New York City. So many of Marvel’s traditionally NYC-based characters have moved away of late, I don’t know if it has anything to do with Marvel’s upcoming move of their publishing offices to California, after having spent many decades in the Big Apple, but lots of characters now reside on the West Coast. However, Elektra accepts an assignment to hunt down the turncoat assassin Cape Crow, but she has to bring him in alive. However, all is not as it seems and there are more assassins trying to make Cape Crow dead than keep him alive. It was Crow’s son who put out the bounty, trying to smuggle his father away to safety before he’s put down permanently and even though Kento can’t pay the bounty, Elektra vows to follow through but there’s a snag, a mutant Australian killer known as Bloody Lips who can learn the skills and secrets of his prey by eating their flesh and he’s just set his sights on Elektra.
You know, I’ve done a fair bit of complaining about artwork lately and while the art by Michael del Mundo isn’t traditional, it really does work in this book. It’s got a kind of watercolor feel to it that, especially in some of the dream sequences, fits the feel of the book perfectly. The writing by W. Haden Blackman is a bit less polished though, there are plenty of places within this first story where it just kind of meanders and I think it gets a bit lost here and there while both Elektra and Bloody Lips provide exposition and background. It’s not bad, some of it is a nice palate cleanser from the action, but I found myself being less interested in their feelings and more interested in getting back to the main storyline as time went on. I think Bloody Lips, as stupid a name as that is, was just creepy for the sake of being creepy. He was created just for this book and since he “dies” at the end of this arc, all of the character development was really a bit pointless, except as a counterpoint to Elektra’s saga. One thing I did like is that this arc leads directly into the second, a two-parter where Elektra and Lady Bullseye mix it up. It didn’t come out of nowhere, it grew organically out of this storyline.
Blackman does a good job here differentiating a cold-blooded killer like Elektra from, say, the Punisher in his new series. Frank Castle, as much as he clearly likes to kill, does so for what he thinks is a higher purpose. He has a positive goal in mind, even if it might be a rather twisted one in the end. Elektra is just a killer. She has no goals except to make money practicing her craft. She is not a hero in any sense of the word, she is a killer, cold, calculating and uncaring. It’s just that some of the things that she does turn out to be positive whether she planned it that way or not. It all comes down to intent. Punisher has it. Elektra does not.
I think this is a pretty decent start for a new book and look forward to continuing the adventures of Elektra Natchios. Hers is not a nice world but it is an important part of the dark, seamy underbelly of the Marvel Universe.