Elektra (#7-#22, 2001)
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Chuck Austen, Joe Bennet, Carlo Pagulayan, Carlos Meglia, Greg Horn
Before Frank Miller became a divisive figure in the comic book community, he created what was considered the defining run of Daredevil (see our Daredevil suggested reading for details on that) and during this time he created the assassin Elektra Natchios. She was a beautiful figure from Matt Murdock’s past, a bounty hunter and assassin, and quite possibly the greatest love of Daredevil’s life.
Seeing her brought to life by Elodie Yung, I was excited and entranced. Elektra is a woman given many different roles by many different writers. At times she is portrayed as remorseless killer and psychopath, others have treated her as more traditional antihero who follows a strict code of honor. This in turn made it somewhat difficult to decide what may be the best point for fans of her portrayal in Daredevil season 2, to jump into the character. Then I came across the series from 2001, written by Greg Rucka.
Greg Rucka manages to blend many of the different interpretations of Elektra into his run to drive home what was also one of my favorite aspects of the character’s recent on screen portrayal. Elektra is an addict when it comes to violence. It was an element of her backstory that Miller touched on, but in Greg Rucka’s take, it is used to highlight why she would never seek redemption: it is not that Elektra doesn’t feel guilt for her actions, and it isn’t that she doesn’t care about the damage left in her wake, but it is that she was built and crafted to become “Perfect Death”.
The supporting cast surrounding her are a varied bunch of figures. From Interpol agents determined to arrest her, to a society of Greek Women separated from men, to a cabal made up of family members of her victims, to fellow criminals on the international scale, Elektra is a woman occupying a wide world. There are consequences that come with her actions, but until midway through the run, Elektra is oblivious to them and has not had to face what happens in the aftermath of her work. It is the attempt at retribution by the survivors of those she killed that leads her to make changes and leads us to the arc that made me feel this is a story that others may enjoy.
It is issue 10 of the run, where Elektra finds herself unemployable and with a price on her head. The story begins to shape into the typical contract on the killer that we have seen so many times before, but instead it goes in a completely opposite direction, with not only no one being willing to hire or fight Elektra, but our heroine becoming desperate for any kind of fight as she falls into a state not unlike violence withdrawal before being captured and painfully detoxed, followed by an attempt at rehabilitation.
The story is populated by few overtly good or evil characters, with most people falling somewhere in shades of gray, and this is what makes it so intriguing. Unlike many stories, we may change who we root for at times and be unsure of who is a villain. At the end you may be left questioning what the moral is, and I would posit that there is none, except that all we can do is try and be better. Somethings cannot be changed about ourselves, and somethings can, but at the end of the day all we can ask of ourselves when struggling with our inner demons is that we try to be better than we were before.
Elektra is a complex and intriguing character when handled right, and despite Mister Miller’s views on the later writers who would work with the character, Greg Rucka crafts an excellent tale with an intriguing cast and welcome additions to the mythology surrounding The Hand and The Chaste of Marvel Comics.
Nick is a fan of all things Marvel and has thus named his pet bunny Elektra. She is fat, white, and lazy – so nothing like the character.
You can follow him on Twitter @dare_to_geek.
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