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Dark Reign: Elektra #5

Written by Zeb Wells

Art by Clay Mann and Mark Pennington

Colors by Matt Hollingsworth

Lettering by VC's Cory Petit

Published by Marvel Comics

Publication Date: 08/26/2009

Review by David Pepose

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Especially when it's the end of Dark Reign: Elektra, an unassuming little mini that hits far above its weight class, going pound-for-pound against some of Marvel's top books in terms of delivering solid entertainment. While writer Zeb Wells doesn't quite nail the dismount for this refreshing series -- indeed, there are far more questions than answers in this final issue -- it has enough beautifully crafted moments to make it a satisfying book.

Interestingly enough, while the last issue ended with a cliffhanger of Wolverine, the Adamantium Avenger doesn't play a huge role in this issue -- indeed, it focuses on the mystery of just what Elektra was responsible for before being kidnapped by Skrulls. While I wasn't completely sold by Wells' answer, he scripts some great moments in this book, whether it be Norman Osborn chewing the scenery while threatening a bunch of accountants, or Elektra finally learning why her attempted assassins tell her "the stars are safe in the sky." The action isn't quite as off-the-wall as last issue's battle royale against Bullseye, but needless to say, Wells punctuates his script with just enough of it that it still holds the tone from before.

Clay Mann, meanwhile, really steals the show. Despite this issue being mainly denouement, Mann's artwork is fantastic and moody to say the least -- Elektra is beautiful but with purpose, yet Mann also has some subtle emotions to it all. Indeed, Mann deserves an ongoing of his own, because his work evokes some of the linework of Oliver Coipel, but gives his anatomy a leaner, more dynamic look. Without going into too many details, seeing Elektra's face on one of the last pages of the book has a haunting look of true regret that shows the range Mann has. Of course, colorist Matt Hollingsworth ends his run with a fairly straightforward color job -- nothing too flashy or detracting, but always in the service of the pencils.

At the end of the day, rereading Dark Reign: Elektra several times in the course of my review, I have to say that even when I didn't agree with Wells' choices -- namely, an ending that didn't feel quite as shocking as I think it was intended -- he still made some strong choices that emphasized his team's creative styles to their maximum potential. Calling this series "cinematic" feels appropriate, both in terms of execution and scope -- this really has been an unexpectedly great series, one that I've looked forward to picking up every month since I got the first issue, and one I will truly miss now that it's done. With some wonderful character moments, smooth pacing, and beautiful artwork, Dark Reign: Elektra truly is a cut above the rest.

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