Elektra never knew her mother. How would her life have changed if she did? Would she still be the assassin she is today? In this preview of next week’s Elektra #4 by writer W. Haden Blackman and artist Mike Del Mundo, Elektra Natchios and rival assassin Bloody Lips come face-to-face with ghosts from their pasts, and touching these specters reveals the paths these tortured characters could have taken. For Elektra, that path is a dramatically different one of benevolence, diplomacy, and art. But Bloody Lips finds himself on the same course, doomed to kill his wife and family no matter the circumstances.

These three pages showcase the character exploration that has made Blackman and Del Mundo’s series one of Marvel’s deepest new titles, examining what motivates Elektra and her enemies and giving personal weight to the intense action. And what gorgeous action it is. Del Mundo secured an Eisner nomination this year for his remarkably clever X-Men: Legacy covers, and his interior art on Elektra has proven just as imaginative and engaging. His fluid layouts amplify the motion for quick, powerful fight sequences, and his inventive page designs show an acute understanding of how the entire image impacts the reader. Elektra lives an ugly life, but this creative teams turns it into a thing of beauty.