Marvel Knights Elektra Vol 2 'Introspect'
Wr. Greg Rucka
Ill. Carlo Pagulayan
Ill. Joe Benett

It is a lie. Elektra Natchios, an ex-Hand member and a Shield member is an unbreakable warrior. It is a lie. A trained ninja, the worst thing to be is her target. She is unmoving, stoic. It is all a lie. The truth is, Elektra Natchios is a junkie or at least that is how Greg Rucka sees it.

Marvel Knights Elektra.Collecting issues 10-15 from the second volume of the Marvel Knights series, Writer Greg Rucka takes readers into a part of Elektra's life that readers probably have never seen. Hitting a dry spell in the assassination department, Elektra is faced without work and left to her own demons. The beast within her, the one that craves blood, beckons and calls to her slowly drives her mad. This tailspin leads her into the hands of a coalition of men and women, all whom share a past with the assassin. Led by a man name Jeremy Locke, they kidnap her at her lowest point with one mission in mind: To kill Elektra Natchios.

In Rucka's hands, Elektra is one part scary ninja and one part emotionally unstable woman. While many writers tend to go with the former in many of their stories, Rucka chooses to examine the mind of this complex woman. It is this storytelling decision that definitely makes this story one the better Elektra stories. Her complex behavior and neuroses makes the character not only vulnerable but relatable as well. It brings the humanity back into the character whose main weapon is to not show her human side. In Rucka's able hands, the dialogue is crisp and top notch. The best is probably the line said by Locke when told by the coalition to execute Elektra. In his view, call it what you will "it still spells murder." It is dialogue like this that allows readers into the mind of the character, further adding layers to it.

Heavy on character, the story is not without its share of action. There are many memorable action sequences, whether it is with a building full of drug dealers or a group of armed mercenaries, but all for a reason. There are no throw-away battles in this arc, nor fights for the sake of fights. If one is expecting an action packed story, one also must be prepared for a lot of character development.

The art tag team of Joe Bennett and Carlo Pagulayan are not Jim Lee clones by any means. The art is not too clean but not hard on the eyes. While not mind blowing art, the art does rise above the rest, especially with facial features. Readers can literally feel exactly what the character is feeling just by one facial feature. When dialogue is not present, it is the silent panels that are drawn that speak volumes. The art is decent overall but combined with the writing, it is a worthy tag team.

The trade paperback is however low on extras. There are no commentary or notes for each issue nor are there sketches. It is just a run of the mill trade paperback but those extras are just bells and whistles. The story is the meat and potatoes of the trade. If you want to read an excellent story then this trade paperback is for you.

- James Chan

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