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DD Book Club - Elektra

 
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1169

PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:47 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Elektra Reply with quote

I thought it was a good time to do an Elektra story. We just finished Fall From Grace, which was the return of Elektra. Additionally, the current comics run just had Elektra return. Given that, it felt appropriate to do her first appearance. We've been dancing around this story and I thought it was time to finally dip our toes into it.

This story is generally thought of as the start of the "Elektra Saga" but it was really a stand alone issue to begin with. At this time, Daredevil was printing every other month and was in danger of cancellation. Roger McKenzie was removed from the book and Marvel decided to turn to the young artist who had been penciling the past two years and have him write a story.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #168 - Elektra



Quote:
This issue reveals that Matt Murdock loved Elektra before his accident and the murder of her parents. Seeking a different path for her solace, Elektra has turned to the bloody justice of the Hand.


Due 11/10
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This, of course, is as classic as Daredevil gets. The very first appearance of Elektra, or, as the cover refers to her, "Elecktra".

This issue's strengths are obvious. Frank Miller was an expert at packing in as much story into as few pages as possible without robbing it of any impact. A lot of that has to do with his gift for panel layout as well as his ease of having action flow from panel to panel as seamlessly as possible. The most obvious example of this is when Elektra fights off Slaughter's henchmen on the pier. All of her moves make absolute sense based on her position in each panel.

Another of this issue's strengths that I especially appreciated this time around was how Miller plays with the reader's expectations - particularly with the behaviour of the criminals. A good example is on page four, when Daredevil appears before Bilge, clearly taking him by surprise, but also hurt. If this were a Batman comic, the criminal would be scared out of his wits. What we get here instead is Bilge commenting:
Quote:
You don't look so hot. In fact, you look lousy. That explosion must've really kicked your guts in. So I don't gotta listen to you, and I don't gotta talk to you -- when all it'll take is a hunk of lead in the right place to get rid of you once and fer all!

I feel like that flips the script that was common for the time. Yes Daredevil mysteriously caught up to Bilge, but he didn't strike fear or awe in him in the least. Of course it only makes it more impressive when Daredevil manages to take down Bilge without letting go of his injured shoulder in the very next panel. I also liked how Miller played with our expectations with Slaughter not falling for Elektra's trap, and when Mickey failed to be scared of Daredevil.

I have never read any of Will Eisner's Spirit comics, but I have seen the movie Miller directed, and it's clear that Eisner was an enormous influence, with Elektra being an obvious descendant of Sand Saref. I don't know if the relationship between the Spirit and Sand Saref is as dramatic as the one Miller wove between Daredevil and Elektra. All I know is how much I love the push and pull between Matt and his college girlfriend turned bounty hunter. As Matt himself puts it:
Quote:
She's everything I despise. But inside the ruthless bounty hunter is a woman -- a woman who bandaged my arm and probably saved my life. She's a bitter, lonely woman who's striking back at the world that robbed her of her father. Yet she's still a woman -- the first woman I ever loved. That's a hard thing to forget. But it doesn't count. None of it. No matter how much it pains me, I must hunt Elektra down... and bring her to justice!

That's why, in my opinion, no other romantic relationship in the history of Daredevil has come close to being as compelling. Elektra is easily one of the best femme fatales in all of comics. There is just so much history between these two, and so much unresolved romantic tension, and it all simmers underneath every one of their panels.

So it is curious that Daredevil doesn't bring Elektra to justice at the end of this issue. I think he was overcome by the connection the two of them still have, and he just couldn't do it. He got Wallenquist, but he let her go. I get it.

What I get less is why Elektra didn't unmask Daredevil after he collapsed. Perhaps it's because she was with Bilge. She clearly suspected that Daredevil was Matt, and that's why she bandaged his shoulder. But if she was right, she wouldn't want Matt's life to be threatened by Bilge and the rest of Slaughter's crew. So maybe it works.

Only one thing doesn't really hold up for me. Elektra's initial refusal to date Matt because of his blindness paints her in a bad light. Yes, it triggers him to display his abilities in front of her, but it does come off as highly insensitive. Also, it's somewhat unbelievable that he would share this information with her so easily when he hasn't ever spoken about it with Foggy or his own father.

Miller didn't have many writing credits before this, and he would refine his style a lot over the next several issues. Eventually the third-person narration would go away, along with the thought bubbles. I didn't mind the thought bubbles at all this issue. They're now a relic of the past, and I doubt they'll come back any time soon, but I wouldn't mind if someone tried to bring them back.

Yep, this is, without question, a classic. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part of the reason I'm excited to review this issue is that I recently bought it when I went to New York Comic Con:



This is Frank Miller's first issue. The opening narration is arguably a bit think to read through. Still, it does a great job of talking about the different senses that Daredevil would have. "Feel" the cold rain, "hear" the freight barge, "taste" the air, "smell" the garbage. Let the night touch you. All the while, we see a man seemingly blind. Each panel is from a different angle with the final shot showing Daredevil menacingly hovering over Turk. There's something wonderfully almost slapstick about the opening and the way the villains run from Daredevil. This can be a dark story, but there's still humor to be found.

At the bottom of the page, we are introduced to Elektra, who is mysterious at first. We turn the page and see her quickly beat up Daredevil (she uses her sais correctly, I'll note). Then, as Daredevil passes out, he shouts "Elektra." It's wonderfully done without any excess narration or thought bubbles. Over all, it's a great start.

Then we're treated to a flashback. What stands out to be is the nievity and innocence of Elektra here. She's sheltered from the world from her father and she doesn't question it. Obviously, there's something special in Matt's mind. He immediately tells Elektra his abilities (something he would eventually do with Karen and Heather, but not until he knows them for a while). Anyway, Elektra and her father get held hostage and Matt comes to the rescue. Reading this story, it almost seems like this is the first time he's used his powers to fight someone. For one thing, he refers to his father in the present tense. I like to see him struggling but overcoming that struggle. Anyway, the fight is cool, but the ending is tragic - especially because her father wasn't killed by the terrorists but by the police. The ending, as she leaves, shows the comparison between the two, Elektra says she can no longer study laws she doesn't believe in while Matt continues to have his faith in the law. This is a theme that Frank Miller returns to time and time again and is arguably the defining feature of his run.

I've praised some of the subtlety this issue. That goes out the window when Daredevil wakes up in present day and more or less directly states everything that had been implicit before. He flat out states he loves her and thinks there's good in her, but that he has to bring her to justice anyway. The stage is set for the final confrontation. This also has some good fighting moments that are worth praising. Finally, the ending is exactly what it needs to be. I love the callback to the flashback. The issue hits all the right notes.

This story packs a lot in. My biggest complaint is that it feels a bit rushed. You could imagine a TV show or movie cutting back and forth between the flashbacks and the modern story to parallel the two and show how far Elektra has fallen. But it's still a very good story expertly told. It just doesn't quite rise to the level of the stories to come. Four and a Half Stars.

Dimetre wrote:

Only one thing doesn't really hold up for me. Elektra's initial refusal to date Matt because of his blindness paints her in a bad light. Yes, it triggers him to display his abilities in front of her, but it does come off as highly insensitive.


That stood out to me and I don't quite know what to make of it. We only have Matt's belief that she refused to date him because of his blindness, although it does seem the fact that he was extraordinary convinced her to date him.

Quote:
Miller didn't have many writing credits before this, and he would refine his style a lot over the next several issues. Eventually the third-person narration would go away, along with the thought bubbles. I didn't mind the thought bubbles at all this issue. They're now a relic of the past, and I doubt they'll come back any time soon, but I wouldn't mind if someone tried to bring them back.


I think Jason Aaron has used them recently. I think they're due for a comeback. He uses them in this initial run for the most part, but he's probably the person most responsible for their disappearance.
_________________
Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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