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Elektra: The Scorpio Key

Written two years before the invasion of Iraq Elektra: The Scorpio Key has the ninja assassin hired by Marvel intelligence agency SHIELD director Nick Fury to take out Iraq's ruler in the Marvelverse, Saddam Abed Dasam. This Saddam, as well as committing the genocidal atrocities of his real life counterpart, has definite links with Marvel's terrorist organisation HYDRA and is in possession of a mystical weapon of mass destruction, the Scorpio Key.

I'm not sure how I feel about Brian Michael Bendis using someone so closely modelled on real life. I guess Hitler has made plenty of appearances in comics and I doubt Bendis was able to foresee what a defining actor the real Saddam was to become in 2001. (OTOH the Bush administration's designs on Iraq were there to be read even back then.)

As a story separated from its contemporary resonances I don't think The Scorpio Key works as well as it should. Bendis's dialogue - normally his strength - seems constrained by the gnostic formalism of Elektra's rhythms. And the exposition seems relentless, and not just in the opening chapter where Elektra's backstory needed to be revealed to new readers.

My only exposure to Chuck Austen's art has been through Miracleman some years ago where he didn't distinguish himself. Here, with finer inkwork and assisted by the subtle hues of Nathan Eyring, it's quite beautiful... except for the same awkwardness that characterised his earlier work, which becomes more pronounced in action sequences. Austen is in the same unfortunate position as Alex Maleev (also collaborating with Bendis) on Daredevil - nobody has ever drawn Elektra or Daredevil in motion better than Frank Miller. They're huge shoes to follow, even decades later.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 31, 2005 6:28 PM.

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