The “Always Bet On Red” arc continues with Elektra #3, as our titular heroine continues her battle against Arcade. Is it good?
Writer: Matt Owens
Artist: Juann Cabal
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This series is continuing to fire on all cylinders. Of all the things there are to like here, artist Juann Cabal’s work is the best. As I read this issue, I found myself feeling excited and impressed by certain compositional and aesthetic choices on almost every single page. Cabal’s line art is far beyond just serviceable; it elevates the (already solid) plot and makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable. Cabal is especially adept at drawing fight scenes. His depictions of Elektra really feel like they are in motion. He knows just which actions to highlight to create the most dynamic visual storytelling possible. There are fight scenes in this issue that are so successfully choreographed and cinematic that I began to hear background music in my head as I read them. Not only that, but he makes a healthy variety of compositional choices, so that the layouts never end up feeling static.
Some of the issue’s best narrative and artistic choices involve the intermingling of Elektra’s past and present. We get our first flashbacks early on in the issue, and they interweave with the present-day narrative more frequently the further into the issue you read. By the end, the past and the present are being expertly united, with pages that take place half in the present and half in the future. Cabal mirrors images from the two time periods perfectly. His use of symmetry in these pages is amazing.
Narratively, this issue is solid. It’s nice to see a Murderworld story that features civilians fighting for their lives instead of a full super-team, ala many of the X-Men’s encounters with Arcade. Arcade comes off as much more of a villain when he’s ordering the slaughter of innocents, not just trying and failing to murder Wolverine or Colossus with bumper cars or some such theme park motif. With that said, writer Matt Owens doesn’t try to make Arcade grim and gritty. The villain is still his usual flamboyant self, much to my appreciation. The contrast between Elektra, a badass assassin, and her campy environment and foe continues to work really well. Another plus side story-wise is some more attention paid to Elektra’s thought process, particularly over the morality of killing.
Elektra #3 is a fun ride from beginning to end. The pacing and events are constructed in such a way as to allow both our heroine and our villain to shine. The art then knocks it out of the park with fantastic composition choices and a constant sense of fluidity in motion. With comic book prices at an all-time high, it’s often hard to feel as if issues are worth what they cost. That is not the case here; Elektra #3 is worth every penny.