One of the latest new series to join Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! launch-phase is Elektra by W. Haden Blackman and Michael Del Mundo. The new series joins Black Widow and Ms. Marvel as the three big new relaunches that exclusively feature some of Marvel’s most well-known leading ladies, although Ms. Marvel is quite a twist in that respect. Both these previous launches have been excellent thus far and if the first issue of the new series is any indication then Elektra is right up there with them as one of the best comics that Marvel has to offer right now, by quite a good margin.
Elektra Natchios is a character I know of only through the Ben Afflect/Jennifer Garner movie Daredevil (a really good one!) and the follow-up Elektra which was a rather disappointing installment. So I don’t know much about her other than what I’ve picked up here and there over the years. But with this new series Blackman gives a great accounting for the character as he introduces her and sets up her first antagonist, even as Del Mundo and the other artists turn out one of Marvel’s best-looking #1s to date.
One of the first things to strike me about this book was the cover, which was officially released last year when Marvel announced its lineup for All-New Marvel Now! Mike Del Mundo did the cover himself and it is a beautiful and gorgeous piece of work. Limiting himself to just three colours, red and black against whitespace, the entire composition feels very Elektra and serves to play up her status as an assassin for hire and someone who has tangled with other assassins several times in her career. In this particular case, said assassins are members of The Hand, if I’m not mistaken.
The issue begins with Elektra giving the reader a monologue about who she is and where she’s come from even as she pretty much massacres an army of assassins come to kill her. The scenes then shift to her meeting the Matchmaker, who is some sort of a facilitator for the assassination industry, and taking on a new contract. This time, her quarry is a supposedly retired assassin-mercenary, someone who was at the top of his game before she was even born. And everything else follows on from there.
Blackman I’ve had previous experience with from his mini-series Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison from Dark Horse. It was a really awesome mini-series and Blackman definitely nailed the voice for the characters and he knew the setting as well. He brings those same strengths to this issue. His Elektra feels very… true, though I say that without much experience with the character. His Elektra is very unique and that shines through in the issue again and again. And his dialogue is natural as well, whether we talk about Elektra or the Matchmaker or even the antagonist we see in the middle pages, Bloody Lips. A weird name, but the character is helluva scary.
What I loved most was that Blackman treated Elektra as a person who defines herself by being herself, rather than by depending on others for the same. She’s gone through a lot of things in her life, and she refuses to bow down to any particular challenge. She rises up to meet whatever comes her way and she makes it plain in this issue that she is not someone you want to mess with. Not when she can take down an army of assassins with as much as she does. A ballet of death would be a more fitting description for what she does.
With Del Mundo on the art we have Marco D’Alfonso on the colours and VC’s Clayton Cowles on the letters. Del Mundo’s characterwork is strong and he draws a really mean, kickass Elektra without going into any overly sexual depictions that would turn a reader off. His best work is definitely the first three pages of the issue, where Elektra does her ballet of death, but he’s no slouch for the rest of the issue either, especially not when we meet Bloody Lips and see what that guy does. Del Mundo and D’Alfonso also do a great job with the colors, which are often muted but stand out nonetheless and the main story has a very grainy feel to it that takes a bit of getting used to but comes out on top by the end of it.
Overall, a very satisfying issue that puts Elektra right up there in the big leagues.