Yes, artist Michael Del Mundo is no longer providing the interiors. It's unfortunate news, but the show must go on, right? On the plus side, writer W. Haden Blackman has the opportunity to continue Elektra's adventure and it's most definitely an exciting journey that's very well paced. As you probably know, the Assassin's Guild is hunting Elektra and her new allies. The premise alone holds the potential for a lot of thrilling developments and the new art team (artist Alex Sanchez & colorist Esther Sanz) has the opportunity to capture just some of these action-packed moments in a double-page spread. Personal gripes over some characters being downplayed aside, I did have fun zooming in on each of these and imagining how these moments would play out. It may not be the most inventive double-page spread around, but it's a nice way of welcoming us back into Elektra's deadly world. Lastly, using Lady Bullseye has the potential to feel like going down an all-too-familiar path, so it's nice to see Blackman's added something to the plot that'll bring a new dynamic to the conflict. What it is has yet to be revealed, but the final page sure does a nice job teasing it!
Obviously, Del Mundo isn't an easy act to follow. I do have my gripes with the new visuals (see "The Bad"), but there's several qualities I do appreciate. First and foremost, the more realistic approach to Elektra's physique works well. She doesn't look too skinny or too scantily clad. She looks like she's in healthy shape (although, there is a panel where this fluctuates) and she still looks every bit as formidable and deadly in combat. Far too often it feels like female characters are wearing limited attires, posing in absurd positions, or have ridiculous features, so it's nice seeing a more realistic approach to the character. The same manages to hold true for the supporting cast, too. Secondly, there's some good work with several of the close-ups. The first image of Lady Bullseye pulls you right into the scene and the last page is a real treat. Nothing here is going to blow you away or leave your jaw dropped like the previous issues did, but a more than moderate amount of the pages are commendable. Different, sure, but still effective enough. Hey, at least we get a very impressive cover by Del Mundo!
It's unfair to compare the new art team to Michael Del Mundo -- it really is -- but it's something that just can't be ignored. The first five issues were a visual marvel and these pages simply don't impress nearly as much they were able to. These aren't bad pages, but the character work does fluctuate sometimes (most notably with faces) and it is a hugely noticeable change between teams. I know it's unfair to the current team -- following Del Mundo is something not many could handle -- but I'm willing to bet a good majority of the people following this book will feel the same way. An example: many of Del Mundo's double-page spreads were brilliant and immersive. Here, there's several panels spilling across two pages and it feels more like a hindrance on the eyes instead of something creative. I get what they're going for and I appreciate the desire to offer a sense of consistency, but it just didn't pack the same punch. Anyway, I'm sure it's just this initial switch that's jarring and it won't be as distracting in the next issue.
Minor gripes: it's disappointing to see Crossbones -- a guy who held his own against Bullseye and Captain America -- and Shocker -- a villain who can withstand Spider-Man's strikes -- basically being labelled as fodder. I mean, I'm used to seeing writers treat Herman Schultz as a joke (even though his shield can withstand Spidey's super-strength...), but Crossbones vs. Elektra had the potential to be awesome.
The change in artwork is sure to be off-putting for some and yes, it is a bummer because Del Mundo's art is phenomenal. However, Blackman's still telling a story that has captured my attention and the beginning of this new arc is just gripping enough to have you interested in seeing what'll happen after the wonderful cliffhanger. While the new visuals may not blow your mind, they're still serviceable and offer a few standout moments. All in all, ELEKTRA #6 is a solid start for the new storyline. It gets the basics out of the way for new readers and wastes no time before throwing us into plenty of ninja action. It may not have the same level of substance as the previous chapters and the artwork may not be as stunning, but the arc is off to an exciting start.