Thoughts on Elektra #1 – “Always Bet on Red Part 1”

Elektra #1

Marvel’s favorite assassin gets a new start in Elektra #1 as she heads to Vegas in search of herself.

Elektra #1

Elektra #1 Cover“Always Bet on Red Part 1”
Writer: Matt Owens
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colorists: Antonio Fabela, Marcio Menyz

Cover Price: $3.99
Story pages: 20

Release Date: February 22, 2017

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Collected in: Elektra v1: Casino Battle Royale


Elektra has now been around for quite some time in the Marvel Universe, and during her stay she has starred in multiple solo titles.  You would think that somewhere along the line she would have developed a purpose of some sort, but she remains immune to that for unknown reasons.  It probably isn’t helped that the most notable moments in her history all occurred in Daredevil, and indeed you could put an argument up that she is a much better supporting character than a protagonist.  Part of that is due to the nature of her being an assassin, which can make for an unsympathetic lead character.  Another part of that is that she has never had a clear cut objective, except for when she was romantically entwined with Daredevil.

In Elektra #1 writer Matt Owens has apparently decided to make Elektra’s lack of purpose the book’s defining trait, at least for now.  Our hero finds herself at a bar in a Vegas casino which just happens to be a front for a modern bloodsports arena.  The latter is a point that Elektra herself is unaware of.  Instead she is there to gamble, but even the high stakes games don’t seem to get any excitement out of her.  It is clear that she is entirely aimless at this point, and just going through the motions.  The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t give any enticing reason to keep reading.

Elektra is bored in Elektra #1The book does try to grab attention about halfway through when we find that the bartender that Elektra has been chatting with is also being sexually abused by the staff of the arena.  This gives Elektra a mission for the moment, but even then it feels like she is just going by the numbers.  The rent-a-thugs she’s up against aren’t any sort of credible threat, and there’s no suspense to their fight.  The action is drawn well by artist Juann Cabal with Elektra flowing from move to move, but once it’s over the energy is gone all over again.

There is a glimmer of hope towards the end when the actual plot starts to show its face, but that might be too little, too late.  It doesn’t help that the hook of the issue is the one-two punch of Screwball and Arcade.  The latter is making his third appearance in comics in the last two weeks (in completely different, contradictory situations, no less), and the former made the jump from being a z-list Spider-Man foe to an AraƱa villain of all things before popping up here.  I admire that they are not just making another Bullseye or Hand story here, but surely there was a better villain or two they could have picked up for their opening arc.  Maybe they have something saved for further down the pike.

Chatting with the Bartender in Elektra #1The art in this issue is good and consistent, but largely unremarkable.  It gets the job done and little else.  There are some sequences that rise above the others, such as the action scene mentioned above and a series of flashbacks showing Elektra’s history that use the appropriate art styles from the respective eras.  There is nothing wrong with the art at all, and in fact parts are quite lovely, but it is also not particularly memorable.

The last thing that jumps out to me about Elektra #1 is that this is a book that desperately wishes it was a mature-readers title.  From the handful of censored out naughty words to the toned-down brutal violence this is a comic that wants to be a little edgy and dark, but it can’t get all the way there.  It could certainly use the boost such a change would make since that would be about the only thing to elevate it from its rather bog-standard plot.

Elektra #1 does not serve as a particularly good opening to this new series.  There are glimmers of hope in the well-drawn action sequences and a decent enough hook in the idea of Elektra trying to find a purpose for herself, but so far these are drowned out by everything else.  Elektra is a hard enough sell as a solo lead to begin with, and this book needed to come out swinging.  It doesn’t, and it does nothing to distinguish itself from some other great books that Marvel is putting out right now.  Maybe with the setup laid out now the book can step things up in future issues, but I can’t help but think this was a misstep.

Elektra #1

$3.99
65

Story

5/10

    Art

    8/10

      Characters

      7/10

        Pros

        • The art is strong with a wide color-range
        • The action scene is excellent

        Cons

        • Takes too long to get to the point
        • Arcade and Screwball are the villains?
        • The plot does nothing to distinguish itself