Monday, May 25, 2009

1986 - Elektra: Assassin

Elektra: Assassin
8 issue miniseries
August 1986 - March 1987
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz

“Elektra’s origin directly parallels that of Daredevil. Both of their lives were irrevocably changed by the loss of a father at the hands of a criminal. Each responded differently. Matt gained a resolve to seek out and battle crime. However, the pain was too great for the younger, less mature Elektra. She abandoned her ideals, and struck out against the world."

- Frank Miller, letter column of Daredevil #170

Elektra, I believe, was the second Marvel mainstream character (Silver Surfer being the first) to go over to the Epic imprint. However, it was the first real test of Epic imprint as the adult subject matter was a far cry from the average Comics Code Approved Marvel story.

The story is very dense. It took me several reads of the first couple of issues before I really got into the story, and a couple of reads of the entire miniseries before I really figured out what was going on.

The first couple of issues set the stage, introduce the main characters, and delve into Elektra’s past, exploring her motivations and influences. The cyborg Garrett is a good choice as a supporting character. He is Elektra’s opposite in his attitudes, his cybernetic enhancements, and beliefs. Elektra and Garrett “team up” to prevent an evil entity, known as the Beast, from seizing control of the United States presidency.

Miller effectively uses only dialog or monologues, like television broadcasts and video reports. These techniques were also well seen in Batman: The Dark Knight. He pushed the boundaries of comic storytelling, especially in the first couple of issues, where he used an innovative non-linear style that reflected Elektra’s drugged perception.

I won’t even bother trying to praise Sienkiewicz’s art. I don’t have the words to faithfully describe his art. Suffice to say that it was a drastic departure from his more realistic, Neal Adams influenced worked on Moon Knight. It is an acquired taste and took me awhile to grow to like it.

Kuljit Mithra ( interviewed Bill Sienkiewicz and he had the following to say about his art:

"Elektra: Assassin employed a somewhat wider array of techniques [than the DD graphic novel] because it tended to be a wilder ride. (...) Elektra was all over the place: “realistically" drawn characters interacting with caricatures interacting with cartoons interacting with photocopies interacting with "children's drawings". There were quite a few styles employed, but the determining factor for the choice of style was what the scene demanded. In essence, the scene dictated the style of artwork used, not vice versa."

It’s difficult to be precise about when the events in this miniseries occurred, but this story seems to pre-date her first appearance in Daredevil #168. What backs this up? Well, Elektra mentions Matt and doesn’t refer to him as Daredevil. And not to mention the subtitle of this miniseries, “The Lost Years”, which would seem to me to infer to the time when she leaves Matt after her father’s death and before she meets Daredevil as Elektra.

Elektra met her end in Daredevil #181, in one of Miller’s greatest Daredevil storylines. She is later brought back to life in the graphic novel “Elektra Lives”.

1 comment:

  1. When i was younger i didn't really appreciate Sienkiewicz. he's one of the very few artists ouot there in the comic book industry you will appreciate much more after you've take some art history classes.



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