Always Bet on Red: Elektra #1 [REVIEW]
Writer: Matt Owens
Artist: Juann Cabal
Color Artists: Antonio Fabela and Marcio Menyz
Letters: Cory Petit
The last run of Elektra was something special. Written by Haden Blackman (Star wars, Master of Kung-Fu, Elektra) with art by Mike Del Mundo (Avengers, with Mark Waid, Weirdworld), it was one of the better comics being written at the time, with a high talent creative team being assigned a character that was not necessarily in the limelight. Much maligned by the movie starring Jennifer Garner, Elektra was in need of redemption. Badly. And the Blackman and Del Mundo run did just that. Flash forward a year or two and I am not sure who would want to take the reboot on. And while the team here has done a serviceable job trying to take on the next generation of Elektra’s continuity, it would be unfair to expect the same of them as was delivered last go ‘round.
I read a lot of that last run, but I did not read it through to the end, so I am unsure what this issue picks up from. The last I saw of Elektra she was helping the disbanded but still fighting Avengers Unity Squad take down the resurrected likeness of Bruce Banner’s Hulk persona in Japan. What we do know is that Elektra is in Vegas. Apparently trying to lay low after whatever happened to close out the last run. She is not interested in getting involved where she does not absolutely have to. But an abused bartender comes across her path, and she cannot lay off righting the wrong. After settling the score, we are treated to a behind the camera view of who has been manipulating the strings at this particular casino, both of whom are mainstays in the Marvel Universe, and are able to tell it is Elektra, despite the new costume makeover.
The art here is pretty standard. There are some nice touches that show it is a step above the industry norm, though. One thing I immediately picked up on is that, even in her civilian attire for a night out on the town in Vegas, Elektra is a good deal more muscular and toned than the average female physique that Cabal draws. It is a subtlety that is quite remarkable, as it is not as if she is drawn Jennifer Walters husky, but it’s just that extra touch of tone that is drawn on her legs and arms in the sleeveless, backless dress she is wearing in the issue’s opening pages. There are those who are not going to like the new costume. The old costume was not pragmatic, but it was jarring and made you stand up and take notice. It made Elektra stand out, especially against the other female characters in the Marvel Universe. The new costume is much more practical and I like the change, but it is almost what you would expect her costume to look like given her power set and skills. And while the ribbon around her waist and her pony-tail look great, I have to kind of knock the art team a bit for having those pieces constantly billowing as if Elektra is always right next to an NFL field fan that is just off-panel. It looks gorgeous, but on the second flip-through I was like, “Wait. Where is that wind coming from again?”
The story here is also solid, but not necessarily revolutionary. Elektra wants to get her murderous past behind her a good distance, but when she sees wrong being done, she cannot help but go all Robin Hood. One thing is that she is clearly still a killer and I did not see her express a bit of angst about that. There are a couple of lines of introspection, and a few that are nuanced. Like the bartender whom Elektra rescues, and has with her when she is changing into the new costume, which we haven’t seen at that point, says “I thought you said red wasn’t your color?” just before Elektra departs, without the new costume being revealed still. It’s a nice bit that made me question whether or not they were definitely doing a costume change right now, if it were permanent, and whether we would see the old togs a few panels later. I also liked the panels that ensued which still did not show Elektra in full view, but kept catching the last couple feet of her waist ribbon as she would enter and depart a scene, leaving bodies in her wake.