W. Hayden Blackman and Mike Del Mundo’s stunningly beautiful “Elektra” has improved from a plotting standpoint in the last two issues as Elektra gains more agency and page time, but it still struggles to be a book that’s really about Elektra.
There’s such focus on the villain Bloody Lips in this series so far that it’s hard to remember what Elektra’s mission even is (she’s looking for Cape Crow at the behest of his son Kento, who is along for the ride). Though Blackman has made some strides in the last two issues in putting Elektra center stage, since it began with her almost as a secondary character it still feels like its playing catch up. Blackman has always had a tough assignment, as Elektra is a tough character to understand and to emotionally connect with, but unfortunately I still feel at loose ends when it comes this Elektra’s identity. Who she is and why I should care about her, what she’s really about and why the story focuses on her continues to elude me as a reader, largely because they seem to elude Blackman as well.
Though Del Mundo’s art is stunning and largely beyond reproach, there are a few design decisions here that are oddly distracting, like Matchmaker’s weird electric pink dialogue balloons and text. I’m not a huge fan of shifting colors for dialogue balloons period, but you can make a good case for them at other points in this book where it’s critical that Elektra and Bloody Lips narrative voices are distinguishable. But Matchmaker having her own text color is just straight up odd. Still, though it’s distracting, it’s a minor annoyance at best. When it comes to visuals, “Elektra” #4 is flat out stunning. From the design of Bloody Lips (one of the best villain designs I’ve seen in ages) to the fluid dance-like action sequences and evocative expression work, it’s just a gorgeous book from tip to tail. Perhaps the greatest gift Blackman has handed to Del Mundo is the variety of locations he’s given him to draw — we’ve seen the desert and jungle, deep underwater, and flying through the air — in the next issue we’ll be in the arctic and I can’t wait to see what Del Mundo can do with all those figures cutting across vast, harsh, all white landscapes.
Like “Red She-Hulk,” which felt like it wanted to be called “Machine Man,” Elektra still feels like it wants to be called “Bloody Lips,” and that’s maybe a book I would buy, but for an Elektra solo title, Blackman and Del Mundo’s “Elektra” is not quite getting it done. Despite incredible art by Mike Del Mundo, “Elektra” continues the struggle to find its voice.