by Hayden Blackman and Michael Del Mundo
With the stylistic choices in both writing and in art that the creative team for Elektra has displayed thus far, the promise of an issue taking place in such a setting as this is the perfect direction. As Elektra and Bloody Lips wind up in the Land of the Dead, the book takes readers into a fascinating and continuously gorgeous fourth chapter. Hayden Blackman and Michael Del Mundo are combining to create some of the best work of their careers and Elektra continues to be a stunning work.
As the issue opens, the story is split in two. Readers are shown the ghosts of both Elektra and Bloody Lips as each character deals with their past and the dream of what could have been. For Elektra, this sequence is the filled with possibilities of what her life could might be had her mother survived. She contrasts what may have been with what is. Simultaneously, the pages share a similar experience with the cannibal, Bloody Lips. And while Elektra’s glimmer of a better life carries some weight in knowing what happened, Bloody Lips’ visions are quite dark. The split storytelling takes readers through the first section of the book before Elektra takes note of the situation and makes her escape.
The story brings readers back to the surface as both characters reemerge and take chase. As Elektra makes her escape with Kento and Matchmaker, Bloody Lips uses his newly acquired knowledge to track down and pilot Scalphunter’s ship. It is a very well scripted and paced sequence that keeps the adrenaline high. Blackman’s writing, paired with the visual aesthetic utilized by Del Mundo creates a very active sensation and the story feels in motion throughout. While Elektra is still in pursuit of Cape Crow, it seems that she is not likely to shake Bloody Lips and makes moves to confront him head on. The story so far has been a great blend of fast-paced action with some significant weight as Elektra struggles with what person she has become, the decisions she has made and what that has led her to. For individuals unfamiliar with the character, this story is impressively well constructed to be friendly to a new reader. Blackman finds organic ways to unveil pieces of Elektra’s past so that the story does not feel weighed down in her history. In an era where publishers continue to experiment with ways to provide “jumping-on points” to readers, Blackman has found a great approach.
As has been the case since the first panel, the story is as much in its script as it is in the art. Yet again, Michael Del Mundo depicts the events of the story in interesting ways. The panels flow in a way that is unlike other art styles. Before the characters surface, the visuals on display as they each are haunted by their past are so rich. The fusion of a painter-like aesthetic in conjunction with some different line and coloring techniques replace the defined separation of panels such that a mass of images are overlaid within the same space without losing their distinctions. Once the story returns to land and pits the characters in pursuit of each other, Del Mundo shifts to a more grounded visual approach, bringing panels back and pairing with Blackman’s script so that the energy and excitement continues to rise with the turn of each page.
Once again, Elektra is a fantastic book. It is a wonder how Del Mundo can maintain this quality on a monthly basis, but while it exists, people would do well to be following this series. For the time being, those who are should cherish it.