Review: Elektra #2

In part two of the “Always Bet On Red story arc writer Matt Owens repairs some of the damage that the mostly Elektra-less first issue did. Elektra #2 focuses more on Elektra but thanks to the way the artist focuses mostly on her figure and the writer refuses to give her clear motivation or depth, it still isn’t really an Elektra comic yet. The title character still has no agency, no real plan, and overall isn’t very Elektra-like. The situation that she finds herself in seems unlikely and convoluted, there is no clear reason why someone itching to get a fresh start would attack a facility that sent people to kill her for helping a bartender without doing any recon first.

Most if the story seems implausible and the villain, Arcade and his henchmen/women, seem pretty boring, one note, and basic. There is a bit of a Running Man ripoff in the plot of this arc that makes little sense, even to Elektra who remarks during what should be the “oh sh**” moment in the issue that “Somewhere Bullseye is laughing at me.” She’s probably right, he got a realistic, true to character story arc in his new comic, complete with a great story, great action, and a feeling of agency.  Elektra has been relegated to a tricked, trapped, damsel in distress in her very own series. This second issue fairs slightly better than the first issue in the arc. Yes, Owens gives us more Elektra in this issue but, instead of focusing on her character development, Owens chooses to instead focus on what crazy hijinks he can put her in.

Juan Cabal adds a bit of something to the story with his art but, not much. It’s very well drawn and, Elektra’s combat outfit isn’t overtly sexualized but he does have a full panel of her showing nothing but her midriff as she puts on her underwear. I’m not sure what seeing her bare-bellied in her boxer brief boy shorts had to do with the story at hand but it was probably one of the most detailed and modernized panels in the issue. We also got to see his artistry in the hotel scenes of her fighting off attackers in her underwear and a tank top. Bad ass, yes, but it wasn’t necessary. Her skin hugging clothing was detailed and noticeable in every panel it appeared in but, you could barely make out her face, not because it was in the middle of battle but because it looked more like a quick sketch. Further proof of the elicit and unnecessary detail to Elektra’s physique are in the almost page full of panels that showcase various body parts of our heroine and nothing more. We get a glimpse of her leg, her stomach, her bare back all in perfect focus but none of these have any real information about the story. Cabal also uses a lot of up angle perspectives in the hotel scenes, so that the readers would get a nice view of the definition of Elektra’s back side. Antonio Fabela manages to make the colors pop in some places and muted in others, it’s an interesting style choice and, in some panels it seems a bit all over the place and convoluted. The art work is C-level pandering that is solely focused on the male gaze and reducing a strong powerful, kick-ass woman to literally the sum of her parts.

This issue isn’t a complete letdown but, it’s not altogether good. It seems a lot like the writer wanted to do a comic book about Las Vegas high stakes gaming using people and just threw Elektra in it. There’s a scene after Elektra’s hotel fight where she has a”moment” with the bartender, Lauren, she saved from an abusive “boyfriend” who is now staying in her room. Elektra tells her to go back to Ohio and then she says she’s going to stay and help instead. An indication as to how poor the character development and story structure is, there are a couple of panels where Elektra urges her to go again and then they hug and nothing gets resolved but immediately after Elektra decides to run into a mystery warehouse to do battle with an unknown bad guy. In my head I wonder if they’re going to try and back pedal and make the bartender in on the whole scheme but there was never anything establishing that anyone knew Elektra was in town until after she goes after the bad guy and his minions. I also am not a fan of the reductive nature of Elektra labeling the casino boss as the bartenders “boyfriend” in this issue, especially when it’s clear in the first issue that he’s her boss taking advantage of his position, using his power to sexually assault her, and the facial injuries she sustained were from her attempting to fight him off. It seems odd for a female character who attacked the scumbag the night before for assaulting the bartender in the bathroom stall would all of a sudden see that vile encounter as a lovers spat. Overall I was more annoyed at this issue and disappointed than anything else, it was sexist, reductive and, an ill-conceived look at what should have been an amazing Elektra story.

Story: Matt Owens Art: Juan Cabal Color: Antonio Fabela
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review