After triumphantly dispensing with Bloody Lips, Elektra faces her new responsibility as a contract bodyguard: a protector rather than an assassin. (Don't worry, she still does plenty of stabbing.) The series itself also takes on a new artist and a new arc, and unfortunately the transition is a bit shaky. While W. Haden Blackman and Alex Sanchez's "Elektra" #6 still has moments of potential, it just can't lock down its direction.
This issue is mostly a recap of Elektra and her band's life on the run from the Assassin's Guild. In principle, it's smart to pair loner Elektra with a group of civilians, but Blackman doesn't signpost effectively. It's difficult to tell how the reader is meant to feel about Cape Crow and his son Kento. In issue #5, Elektra expressed empathy for Kento, but here she seems irritated and stand-offish again. Unless the team dynamic develops a consistent quality, it's going to be difficult to enjoy reading it.
The other piece of the plot is also frustrating. For reasons that still don't make much sense, Lady Bullseye blames Elektra for her suffering at the hands of Bloody Lips. I'm as excited as anyone for these two to face off, but "Elektra" #5 did not establish a logical motive for that blame -- and it hurts the current installment. When Lady Bullseye allows doctors to inject her with deadly, experimental nanytes, her only concern being "Will I live long enough to kill Elektra?", the moment is cheapened by this lack of explanation. Such a dramatic choice requires a well-established motive, and she doesn't have one yet.
The issue also marks the debut of artist Alex Sanchez, who has the unenviable task of following Michael Del Mundo. Sanchez unfortunately can't match the fluidity and grace of his predecessor. When he attempts one of the stained-glass-meets-collage layouts that Del Mundo has used so liberally in issues #1-5, it inevitably feels like a lesser imitation. Sanchez also struggles with Elektra and her costume -- an admittedly absurd getup that would be difficult to portray in any scenario, but he seems to particularly struggle with the shape of Elektra's body. It's constantly changing, and the angle between her ribs and hips doesn't always look human. (Sanchez also doesn't make it easier on himself by inexplicably changing her flat-soled, practical boots to heeled ones.) Kento's head and face also change shape from panel-to-panel, even making me double-take at one point, because I thought a new character had suddenly appeared.
Still, Sanchez does a lovely job with other elements of the issue. His characters' faces often look like dolls', with small eyes and wide, flat faces -- an effect which colorist Esther Sanz emphasizes. This look is actually quite effective on the Matchmaker, giving her face an eeriness and vulnerable wisdom that matches her dialogue. Overall, Sanchez should be fine after some more time with these characters, but this issue shows room to grow.
"Elektra" #6 is paced well but plotted poorly. It moves neatly and speedily through the action, but I struggled to care or comprehend why many of the actions were taking place. Issue #5 demonstrated a strong sense of who Elektra is and what makes her tick; that character is less clear here, but I'm hopeful that it will return in the next issue.