By: W. Haden Blackman (story), Alex Sanchez (art), Esther Sanz (colors)

The Story: Now’s the time when an assassin really wishes for comprehensive insurance coverage.

The Review: Killing a person is a fictional act equivalent to hearing someone drop the f-bomb. The jolt it delivers depends on the person who’s doing it, and it quickly wears out its excitement the more times it’s done. And here’s the thing about assassins: they do a lot of killing. After a while, that parade of death no longer serves a vital role in making a story compelling; the writer will have to find interest from some other quarter.

I mean, there’s not much we can take from Elektra’s recent string of victims (for the record: Blizzard, Crossbones, Whiplash, Shocker, Boomerang, Tiger Shark, Jack O’Lantern, Blackout, Death Adder, Anaconda, Sidewinder, and Black Mamba) other than she’s really good at what she does, and they’re not so much. The motivations of all these characters also vary little between mercenary (for the massive price on Crow’s head) and petty (for Crow’s past poaches of other assassins’ contracts), so you won’t be interested on that point either. Certainly Elektra treats these folks as little more than the hazards (and irritations) of her job.

Also, since this is Elektra we’re talking about, when she fights somebody, I expect there to be a cadaver at the end of it if she’s left standing. That is supposedly her whole hang-up, remember? So not only do you wonder how dead she left some of her more illustrious opponents, e.g., Shocker, Boomerang, you question why she settles for merely crippling/knocking out some of them, when she previously swore to kill them all. You’d almost expect her to give everyone a tsai through the cranium just to be sure.

Lady Bullseye is the perfect example. This is a character who will definitely hound Elektra if she’s not finished off the first time around—in fact, she’s obsessed with round two even in her death throes—so why Elektra didn’t do so in #2, I don’t know. I can’t imagine there’s a lot of professional courtesy going on there, so you can only conclude that this is a cop-out on Blackman’s part, because the Lady is too prominent a villain to bump off so casually.

I suppose, however, you need at least one assassin left standing (or, in the Lady’s case, wheezing and clutching her split abdomen on the ground) to demonstrate everything Matchmaker has to say about the Assassins’ Guild. Most importantly, you get to see the cruel way they treat those who owe them sizable debts: unable to afford the life-saving care she needs, Lady Bullseye is coerced into accepting an experimental treatment that will turn her insides “into gray goo.” Charming.

The mythology and operation of the Guild is fascinating stuff, but we’ve had far too little of it, and Elektra’s mission grows more boring by the month. Considering how both she and Matchmaker expressly recognize that their only reward for protecting Crow and Kento is diminishing with every battle, it’s increasingly difficult to see why either would keep on,* especially since neither of the men are pulling much of their own weight.

After months of Michael Del Mundo’s lush, painted art, it’s almost a bit of a shock to return to Sanchez’s more conventional comic book work, but he does a perfectly good job for all that. His double-page montage of Elektra versus a number of Assassin’s Guild members does capture the ferocity of their bouts, and he even manages to make the Lady Bullseye’s surgery-table conversation interesting by trapping it in drops and splashes of panels, suggesting blood, IVs, and the dreamy effects of anesthesia.

Conclusion: The art is still enjoyable, but the story is really starting to fall apart.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * Also, those safehouses are apparently worthless since they’ve been found at every one.