Elektra’s in Sin City facing down the villain Arcade. Will what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas?

Marvel’s most skilled assassin tries to find a new life for herself, and like all lost souls, ends up in Las Vegas. The bright lights of Sin City casinos provides a novel experience for Elektra, as does the villain Arcade.

Las Vegas gives writer Matt Owens a great way to contrast Elektra’s normally secretive nature with the omnipresent lights and sounds of Vegas. Since Elektra can’t sneak around in quite the same way, Owens presents that stealthy side through her language. Elektra’s a fairly quiet protagonist, even her captions here are sparse. This does mean that the character beats are smaller in Elektra: Always Bet on Red, but part of this feels like the series was building towards something bigger (a feeling that becomes more obvious in the collection’s conclusion). It’s an unfortunate part of the business that comics can get cancelled as quickly as they do, but the end result is that Elektra: Always Bet on Red flows at a brisk pace, as the assassin faces the deadly machinations of Arcade.

The setting of Vegas would mean diddly squat however, if the artist wasn’t able to take advantage of it and really show it off. Fortunately, artist Juann Cabal is up to the task and brings a visual flair to the proceedings. The designs and smooth linework give the book an electric feel that works really well given Arcade’s video-game aesthetic.

Aiding this effect are the colorists working on the book. The majority of the book was handled by Antonio Fabela, with Marcio Menyz handling the first chapter, and Jordan Boyd handling the third. All the colorists use a vibrant palette that matches the surreal “it’s-always-daytime-here” aspect of Vegas. It helps highlight the contrast between this story and a lot of Elektra’s past comic book runs.

For her part, Elektra is still the assassin readers have come to expect, and Cabal guest artist Martin Morrazo render her with deadly efficiency. The setting allows for some interesting setpieces. Where else is one going to see Elektra using her acrobatics on a carousel?

Is It Good?

It’s unfortunate that this newest run couldn’t get past the first arc. The biggest frustration with Elektra: Always Bet on Red is that there are sprinkles of character development that surely would have paid off in later issues, but feel hollow on their own. Nonetheless, Matt Owens, Juann Cabal, and co. have created an exciting book that soars in its inventiveness and mixes together hero and villain in an exciting ways. For fans of both Elektra and Arcade, this should not be missed.

Elektra: Always Bet on Red
Is it good?
Inventive and energetic, Elektra: Always Bet on Red is a nice entry into the character's canon that makes the most of its setting and its antagonist to reveal new layers to the lethal assassin.
Juann Cabal's artwork is stellar.
Matt Owens' uses Arcade to show off Elektra in a different type of adventure than readers may have come to expect.
The sprinkling of character beats in the story feel like something that would have built up in a hypothetical second arc. Unfortunately, the book feels a little hollow because of it.