The next installment of Elektra’s adventures begin in this issue,Double Tap: Part One, from series writer Blackman and new artist Alex Sanchez, stepping in after Mike Del Mundo. While I certainly miss Del Mundo’s pencils, it feels appropriate to begin this two-part arc with another artist as the book shifts gears slightly. What began as the race to save Cape Crow from Bloody Lips has become a bloody trek across the world, with Elektra fending off Guild assassins at every turn. Resigned to this mission, both professionally and philosophically, Elektra must keep Cape Crow, his telepathic son Kento and a wounded Matchmaker alive, moving from safe house to safe house in their search for refuge.
In the Himalayan Mountains, their journey brings them face-to-face with the Serpent Society, the latest batch of killers sent to take their heads. Elektra disposes of them quickly, but as she sends Crow and Kento to the nearby safe house, she doesn’t yet realize that a greater danger awaits them. Mortally wounded after her encounter with Bloody Lips, Lady Bullseye calls the Guild for help and is rescued from the artic. Unable to pay her medical debts, she agrees to become a testing subject for the Guild’s new nanite cocktail in exchange for life-saving surgery.
The cocktail rewrites her genetic code and turns her into something far deadlier than she ever was before. With the Serpent Society acting as a front, Lady Bullseye waits inside Crow’s safe house to attack the assassin and his son. Elektra and Matchmaker run to their aid but the newly mutated Lady Bullseye stabs Matchmaker through the chest, turning her attention to Elektra to finish the job she started on Monster Island.
Blackman and Sanchez deliver a strong opening issue of this two-parter. Blackman’s scripting is compelling and well-paced, turning slightly from the dual Elektra/Bloody Lips narrative vehicle of previous issues to give Lady Bullseye a turn as the primary antagonist. With her recent soul-searching behind her, this Elektra is as indomitable as she is ruthless, and it’s interesting to see that play out with so many people depending on her. I find his characterization of Elektra to be quite enjoyable over all, with the contrast of her short, clipped dialogue and the elegant prose-like quality of her narration.
Artist Sanchez and colorist Ester Sanz bring a similar aesthetic to this story, maintaining the fast-paced action and moody color palettes of previous issues but still keeping it fresh. Sanchez’s line work is fine and softened by rounded contours, making for delicate characters with big, wide-set eyes and an ethereal quality in their construction. Engaging two-page spreads are interspersed throughout the issue to play with page design, from the inventive recap of Elektra’s recent exploits to the dreamlike rendering of Lady Bullseye’s medical experimentation. His use of gutter space in these pages frames each spread in a variety of ways, achieving wildly different effects without breaking the overall narrative flow. Sanz colors these finely-detailed panels with palettes of deep reds and wistful turquoises, building up space with grungy textures and soft, painterly highlights.