The Scorpion Key
once thought that I could ever give Brian Michael Bendis a
bad review. Then I read this horrible piece of crap called
Elektra and I knew I was wrong.
it's me. I grew up reading comics, but I wasn't buying them
en masse in the 1980s (because I was eight at oldest, Spider-man
always appealed more so than "that devil guy") so
I never experienced the Frank Miller run on Daredevil. I never
saw Elektra get stabbed with her own sai, or saw Karen Page
become a porn star. For these reasons, I just don't care about
someone does, because Elektra keeps getting revived. Noticing
this, I picked up the first collection, The Scorpion Key,
and wish I'd kept the receipt.
goes thus: The new leader of Iraq (still called Saddam --
very subtle, Bendis) has forged an alliance with the new and
improved Hydra, an organization that has shifted from over-the-top
world domination schemes and settled on the community conscious
supplying of global terrorism. Those wacky snake heads.
look like an angry pirate" Fury is not too happy about
this merger, not to mention the fact that Saddam is in possession
of The Scorpion Key, which is
lights up. Bendis never explains what it is or does, and we
see only the briefest glimpse of its power, and even then
it seems like little more than fireworks over the Sultan's
palace from Aladdin (It is a long-standing element in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s
continuity, but still...).
to cut through the red tape of S.H.I.E.L.D, he hires Elektra
to kill Saddam and grab the key. And the rest is a lot of
time spent getting from story point A to story point B.
is full of holes and pointless filler that just make the book
drag for hours. If Fury has to deal with so much "red
tape," why the Hell does he have a fully manned makeshift
headquarters full of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in Iraq? Where'd
you get the clearance Nick? There's a brief and ultimately
pointless "mole inside S.H.I.E.L.D." plot that lasts
for maybe 8 pages, where Elektra steals the traitor's car
happened to stabbing? Stabbing stops traitors, right?
where is the dialogue that Bendis has made his trademark?
No two characters have anything resembling a well-choreographed
conversation, and Elektra's own dialogue is about as stiff
a two-day-old corpse. No one has any personality in this story;
even Fury comes off blandly angry.
isn't all bad, but it is far from great. Chuck Austen is good
when he's well lit. The outdoor café scenes and park
scenes with Elektra are beautifully done, and the characters
are always well contrasted with their surroundings, so you
get focused onto the character.
falters when he puts his characters in any kind of shadow:
faces get horribly disturbed fro the sake of shadows, action
gets lost within dark panels, as demonstrated in the most
boring fight scene I have ever witnessed (and I'm still not
even sure what happened exactly) between Elektra and the Silver
Samurai. Austen also seems to suffer from crowd-the-page-itus,
as he jams far too much visual data on one page, or gets repetitive.
At one point, he draws the same group of characters almost
exactly the same, in almost the exact position, from the same
perspective, for eight panels! Jumping Jesus on a crutch,
mix it up a little! A close-up. Wide angle. Fish eye lens.
Anything different! Thankfully, the panel-that-would-not-end
was broken up by a gunshot (thank the NRA).
is just not worth it, especially at a price of $15.95. The
plot is badly put together, the artwork is bad, and even better,
you never find out what the hell the Scorpion Key is. You
name the book after it, but decide it's not really important
to the plot? Oh Marvel, when will you learn.
redeeming parts to the book are the computer graphic enhanced
covers of a realistic (and sexy) Elektra, which look great,
but honestly guys, soft-core pornography fills the same need.
Go out and spend your cash on the Mother's Day gift you forgot
to buy (thanks to a twin sister, I never have to remember
holidays and sometimes only end up paying half price; it's