The “Always Bet on Red” arc continues in Elektra #4. Is it good?
Writer: Matt Owens
Artists: Juan Cabal, Martin Morazzo
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This issue’s splash page kicks things off to a promising start. We see Elektra lunging past several sets of chattering teeth, dodging attacks by Screwball and listening to a voiceover from Arcade—Elektra’s on a strict time limit to save the day, and she’s going to have to solve some riddles to succeed. Between everything I just described and the Murderworld bumper cars, there’s a lot going on. The page is busy in the best way, and this arc’s interpretation of Murderworld is every bit as zany as I want it to be.
Unfortunately, what actually happens in Murderworld this issue is a letdown. I’ll preface by saying that I don’t think this is a bad issue, but that the high quality of the ones before it makes the comparative drop in quality very noticeable. From a writing standpoint, the dialogue frequently just isn’t good. The banter in the action scenes feels very cheesy, and Arcade’s riddle feels disappointing. I was looking forward to seeing the action flirt with some meaningful wordplay but the execution of it felt lacking.
Character-wise, I felt really letdown with this issue. This series has been slow to dive deep into Elektra’s emotions. So far, I’ve been able to forgive that because what little we did get of Elektra’s thought processes and motivations was interesting and set against an enjoyable backdrop. The action is significantly less interesting in this issue, leaving little to distract from how little the lead character has been fleshed out. After some stellar hints at Elektra’s past struggles last issue, I was expecting more character development this time around. Strangely, the character whose past gets the most page-time here is Screwball. For a foe who’s seemingly come out of left field in terms of how much attention she’s gotten, Screwball isn’t well-developed enough either. My biggest complaint about this issue is probably that I wasn’t interested in either of its two most prominent characters.
Fortunately, the art team continues to deliver solid work. Juann Cabal and Martin Morazzo do the line-art, and their work helps to sell the questionable plot developments. While some of the line-art is less polished than usual for this title, the action scenes continue to have the series’ signature sense of motion and excitement. Colorist Antonio Fabela’s work beautifully enhances the look and feel of the issue. All in all, the art team helps to make an otherwise mediocre issue an enjoyable one.
As much as there is to criticize here, this issue is still a good time. It just isn’t necessarily $3.99 worth of a good time. The writing is less engrossing than usual and the artwork, while dynamic and fun, has more easily noticeable flaws than in previous issues. If you’ve been following this series and enjoyed it thus far, this issue is worth picking up so that you won’t be scratching your head plot-wise when issue #5 comes out. I wouldn’t recommend this issue to anyone looking to try the series for the first time, though.