In Elektra: Black, White & Blood, some of the comic book industry's brightest stars take the deadly assassin out for a spin, unleashing her against an army of disposable foes. The book is the latest from the Black, White & Blood series of anthology titles, which use a limited color palette to paint Marvel's most violent vigilantes in black, white, and red. This limitation allows for breathtaking action and genuinely inventive creative opportunities while also highlighting the strength of the character's essence. In the case of Elektra Natchios, Black, White & Blood explores how Daredevil's on-again/off-again love interest operates when she doesn't have to restrain herself. Though it may be too brutal for impressionable minds, Elektra: Black, White & Blood is an incredible adrenaline rush.
Elektra: Black, White & Blood #1 opens with "Red Dawn" by writer Charles Soule, penciler Mark Bagley, inker John Bell, and colorist Edgar Delgado. In it, a vampire bites Elektra, provoking her to slaughter all of her undead enemies until her dying breath. The framework allows Soule to shine a light on the true essence of Elektra as a begrudging badass who refuses to relent against overwhelming odds. Additionally, the story gives Bagley a rare opportunity to lean into his horror chops. Though he is traditionally associated with the bright world of Spider-Man, Bagley excels with terror, crafting gnarled vampiric faces and dramatic depictions of death. Dell and Delgado further enhance Bagley's linework by painting the world of Elektra in a smooth wash of greys while depicting the titular anti-hero in soft reds. In particular, the final page is a work of art that everybody involved should be proud of creating.
"Not The Devil" by Leonardo Romero follows a criminal on the run from an unseen enemy. If the first story was about Elektra's humanity, this is about her unparalleled fury. Romero doesn't give the assassin any dialogue until the last page, choosing to treat her as a force of nature instead. This decision makes her feel like a genuinely terrifying presence as she hacks and slashes through a dozen armed opponents. Romero's thick lines and flat colors draw attention to the action, creating memorable moments like Elektra's assault on the gunmen within an airport. More than any other story in this issue, "Not The Devil" emulates pulp heroes and classic crime comics in all the best ways imaginable.
Finally, writer Declan Shalvey and artist Simone D'Armini team up for "The Crimson Path." Unlike the previous two tales, this short reimagines Elektra as a force for good, an almost angelic crusader for justice. In the mythical days of yore, Elektra defends a young girl from a collective of masked attackers, whose armored bodies are no match for a sharp blade. By shifting the setting of Elektra's story, "The Crimson Path" speaks to the character's altruistic core. D'Armini's scenic landscapes look like classic Greek terracotta. One of the most striking decisions D'Armini makes is to slowly change Elektra's appearance during her fight, splattering her white facade with the blood of her enemies until she is completely engulfed in red. This creative choice enhances the story's themes, with Elektra accepting her responsibility to protect others even at the cost of her soul.
Overall, Elektra: Black, White & Blood #1 is an enthralling anthology that reminds readers that the character deserves to be considered one of Marvel's best. By casting the current Daredevil in a myriad of different settings, the various creative voices showcase what makes Elektra so compelling. The issue is jam-packed with action and breathtaking art, highlighting the value of this series' unique form of storytelling. While these adventures won't impact the mainstream Marvel continuity, Elektra: Black, White & Blood represents the best elements of the deadly assassin.
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