Welcome to Devil Talk, a series of columns dedicated to everyone’s favourite ninja warrior clad in red, Elektra! We’re giving our usual subject matter a break this week to concentrate on a character that has strong ties to Daredevil, but has since achieved a level of popularity in her own right. She even had her own movie in 2005, starring Jennifer Garner. Granted, the movie is generally considered to be a flop (full disclosure: I’ve still not seen it) but Elektra is still popular enough to have been given another shot at a solo series as part of the recent All-New Marvel Now! campaign. However, if one man had his way, Elektra wouldn’t be alive and running around the Marvel Universe right now. That man is Frank Miller, Elektra’s creator.
As we discussed last time, the way Miller introduced Elektra to the comic was pretty bold. He established that Matt Murdock had been in love with Elektra since their college courtship many years before. Nearly twenty years and 168 issues since the Daredevil title began, and Elektra was suddenly a crucial part of the series, despite the fact that no one had heard of her before. Elektra Natchios, daughter of a Greek ambassador, constantly shadowed by a bodyguard, is a Political Science undergrad at Matt’s college. Matt Murdock is instantly taken with her, so coerces Foggy Nelson into distracting the bodyguard, and is so desperate to attract Elektra’s attentions that he reveals his superhuman abilities to her. They have a year-long romance, but the euphoria is shattered when Elektra and her father are held hostage by terrorists. Using his powers, Matt can hear the terrorists planning to kill Elektra, so he leaps into action, but Elektra’s father is inadvertently killed by police crossfire. Something inside Elektra snaps. She tells Matt she wanted to change the world, “…now I can’t let it touch me, ever again.”
The next time Murdock encounters Elektra, it is years after their affair, and Elektra is now a deadly bounty hunter and assassin, more than capable of kicking Daredevil’s scarlet buttocks and willing to kill anyone who gets in her way. Daredevil and Elektra would become increasingly tangled in each other’s lives as Miller’s reign progressed. She became the Kingpin’s number one assassin, putting her in direct competition with the psychotic Bullseye. In a vicious battle, Bullseye uses one of Elektra’s own sai to stab her through the stomach. After Bullseye left her for dead, She crawled to Matt Murdock’s apartment, and died in his arms.
How about that? Frank Miller created this cool character, who became instantly popular, and he killed her within fourteen issues of her first appearance! Miller wasn’t done with Elektra, though. She would continue to have a presence in the comic; in a later storyline, the shadowy ninja organisation The Hand steal Elektra’s body in an attempt to resurrect her. Miller takes this opportunity to fill in gaps in her past, revealing that after leaving America she travelled to China and joined The Chaste, rivals to the Hand. Matt Murdock’s old mentor Stick was a member of the Chaste, but recognised a darkness within Elektra’s soul, and cast her out. Trying to show that Stick was wrong, she infiltrated the Hand, attempting to bring it down from within, but ultimately became corrupted by the Hand’s mystical nonsense. Elektra was not resurrected this time, but using sheer force of will, Matt was able to interrupt the ceremony and purify Elektra’s soul.
Miller would return to Elektra on and off until the early ’90s, writing the Elektra: Assassin miniseries drawn by the amazing Bill Sienkiewicz, and writing and drawing Elektra Lives Again, a 1990 graphic novel. By this point Miller, as was his wont, was filling his books with even more violent and sexual imagery than he had done before, and these books are generally not considered to be ‘canon.’ Miller was clearly fond of Elektra, and didn’t want any other creator doing stories with her. Industry rumour has it that Daredevil editor Ralph Macchio basically promised Miller that they wouldn’t bring Elektra back into standard continuity without Miller’s say-so, but in the mid-1990s that’s exactly what happened, and Elektra was resurrected, for real this time. Miller has barely worked for Marvel since. For their part, it’s clear why Marvel would want to bring Elektra back: she’s awesomel! But, for whatever reason, Marvel rarely seems to know what to do with her. It doesn’t help that the storyline that brought her back was never very popular in the first place (we may get to that one in a later column). She spent some time being Wolverine’s sidekick for a while, and got her own ongoing title in the early 2000s, but everything was thrown on it’s head when it was revealed that a Skrull had been posing as Elektra for years! Comics, huh?
Elektra has her own ongoing title as the moment, written by Haden Blackman and strikingly drawn by Michael Del Mundo. It’s been a great series so far, and with the Daredevil Netflix show on the horizon, Elektra’s future seems to be bright. At the moment no actor has been confirmed to play her, but an appearance on the show is surely inevitable. Even if you don’t actually see her at first. Ninjas, eh?