The series of Shadowland one-shots, of which this is the second after the Bullseye one, felt like a great concept, but after each issue I feel like the execution is leaving me hanging, like only getting the 30 second sound bite of a song on iTunes. This issue is fun, and I’m bopping my head, but then it just stops.
This issue attempts to work on dual levels, as an almost introspective inspection of Elektra’s connection to the Hand and how that ties her so closely to the Shadowland event, and also to the fact that’s she’s a hard as diamond ninja assassin and twice as pretty and sharp. Wells and Rios work to make these layers overlap but it’ll take a second reading to really get the meaning of the issue. This isn’t a narrative progression but rather an important piece of emotional travel. Between the fights you have to take just as much time soaking up the silent panels and not looking for what they mean but what they feel like.
Elektra finds herself at a very important ice wall from her past and she’s looking to make a better attempt at that crossroad in her life. Master Izo, a character who sparkled when first introduced by Brubaker but now feels like no one can use him correctly, chats with Elektra but ultimately it’s hard to tell which way she’s truly leaning on the inside as Wells always writes her so silently. I get the feeling Elektra is going to have to spend this saga getting closer to the heart of Matt Murdock only to then pierce it.
The fight scenes within the story, in which Elektra works to create a swath of dead Hand goons as her retort to Daredevil’s rudeness, are well choreographed and quite a bit more gruesome than I was expecting. I haven’t seen much of Rios’ art, but here she has no compunction having people stabbed, spurting, splatting, and cracking. Each death feels like something different and you are quickly reminded that Elektra isn’t just dangerous, she’s deadly. It’s nice to see her talents taken so seriously, even if only on Hand cannon fodder.
Elektra is a silent character and so you have to rely on her actions to understand what’s going through her mind. Much of the action of the issue is Elektra busting heads and vaporizing previous servants. There is, though, a scene of calm after that storm that shows you what Elektra truly feels as she watches the major opening moment of this whole Shadowland ruckus. Wells only needs four words over the final four pages to give us plenty to work with and I can only wonder how it will all play out from here.
This comic might feel like it slights you. Not too much happens except for some fights and a bit of exposition. But when you step back, you’ll realize that Wells has given us a single issue that sums up more resonant emotion than most complete arcs do. This isn’t quite an "Elektra Lives Again," but it certainly is something a little more cerebral than you might expect from an event tie-in even if it is short.