Elektra Natchios may be one of the deadliest assassins in the Marvel Universe, but she’s still a human being. And while murder may be her art and profession, the act still weighs heavily on Elektra’s soul. One of the way’s she’s dealt with this has been by killing for what she believes are noble and good causes; helping out organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. and heroes like Wolverine, Daredevil, and her allies on the latest incarnation of the Thunderbolts.
Does killing, even if for virtuous reasons, ever really even the scale? Does Elektra view herself as a hero or something much worse? And how does she handle her desire to atone and be something better? Writer Zeb Wells and artist Mike Del Mundo seek to answer those questions this March when they kick off a new ongoing “Elektra” series as part of All-New Marvel NOW!. CBR News spoke with Wells about the series , which was announced yesterday at Marvel’s “Superior Spider-Man & Friends” panel at New York Comic Con.
CBR News: So Zeb, you’ve penned an Elektra miniseries, a one-shot, and an arc of “Savage Wolverine” where she figured heavily. How does it feel to be given the chance to tackle the character’s adventures on a monthly basis? How is writing an Elektra ongoing different from writing her adventures in a shorter, finite story? What sort of writing obstacles and opportunities does the ongoing give you?
Zeb Wells: I could not be more excited. This book has been a dream of mine for years. With the shorter stories I feel like I was doing riffs on Elektra’s past and quick little character bites. With the ongoing the challenge and the opportunity is to try and make a mark on the character. Be true to who she is but push her forward and let her evolve.
Let’s talk a little bit about how you see your protagonist. In one of our interviews about your “Savage Wolverine” story you described Elektra as “The walking embodiment of that deep, scary soul-sadness we all get sometimes.” How do you think this has affected her in the long run? Do you think Elektra is an introspective character? Is she capable of looking at all she’s endured? Has she processed everything she’s done and all of the suffering she’s dealt with?
I think a part of her has stopped trying to process everything she’s seen and done. She considers herself too far gone. That will be one of the central questions of the series. Is she too far gone? Is there a chance for her to grow?
Elektra is also a very mysterious character and I’m curious how that element of her personality will manifest in your series? Will you give the readers insight into Elektra’s thoughts and motivations via an inner monologue? Or will Elektra be sort of a figure of the mystery in this series?
I love writing Elektra because it forces me to use Elektra’s actions to tell the story, and not the words. It’s an exercise in showing and not telling to the extreme. Elektra will never have an inner monologue as long as I’m writing the book. Every time you see her talk in this book, know that I see that as a profound failure on my part!
Elektra last appeared at the end of your “Savage Wolverine” arc where she discovered that someone else had resurrected Bullseye, and Joe Madureira’s art suggested that was a difficult realization for her. Where and when does your new “Elektra” series begin? How much story time has passed since her discovery about Bullseye and where is she at physically and mentally when the series begins? Is she still fixated on the man who killed her? Or has something else caught her attention?
She’s still fixated on Bullseye at the onset of the story, but that will wrap up in an unexpected way and compounded with events Mark [Waid] has planned in “Daredevil” she finds herself completely rudderless. It’s a sad state she was in, but the only thing she had keeping her going was the thought of killing Bullseye. With that gone she has a void she needs to fill, and we’ve got some exciting things planned to keep her growing.
What does your first “Elektra” storyline deal with in terms of plot and where you want to take the character?
It’s about her trying to find herself, through violence, of course. I don’t want to give too much away, especially because Michael Del Mundo has started throwing ideas at me and made me expand a few plot points, but Elektra is given a list of targets to hunt that are even deadlier than her. She becomes a hunter of assassins.
What sort of obstacles and adversaries will Elektra face in this series? Will we see traditional enemies like the Hand and international criminals and terrorists or are you interested in forcing her to confront new challenges?
This book will be all about expanding Elektra’s world. I’d like to take a break from the Hand for a while. That mythology is growing in fun ways in other corners of the Marvel Universe, so I’d like to carve out a new cast of characters for her to test her skills against.
By nature Elektra is a loner, but will you be giving her a supporting cast? Will the series feature a regular collection of allies and enemies for your protagonist?
We’ll build allies and enemies as we go along. There will definitely be a supporting cast. When your protagonist hates to talk, it’s helpful to have some Chatty Cathy’s hanging around!
Let’s start to wrap things up by talking about the visuals of “Elektra.” Artist Mike Del Mundo is primarily know for some breathtaking cover work, but he’s doing interiors for “Elektra.” What do you feel he brings to this book and the title character? What can people expect from his interiors?
No one should expect anything, because he’s going to be doing something crazy every issue! I’ve been talking with Mike and it’s been so invigorating. He wants to talk about the temperature of a story. The feel. How it smells. He’s taking all this into account as he lays out his pages and his action. So I guess people should expect to be surprised.
Finally what kinds of stories are you interested in telling in “Elektra?” Is this primarily a tale of a contract assassin dispatching her targets? Or will Elektra be up to something different? And will her adventures be more grounded or will the fantastic and weird aspects of the Marvel Universe be a regular part of the series?
I want to tell a story about a broken person trying to make it alone in the world. How does she cope and how long can she do it? For me, the assassination stuff is just a crutch for her so she doesn’t have to take a look at herself. If she let’s down her walls and examines all the murder she’s a part of she might stop. And if she stops what is left but a lifetime of guilt? She’s trapped as a character. Can she find a way out? That’s the journey I’m interested in taking her on.
And also, as always, I’d like to write a story that Frank Miller might want to read at some point. But don’t we all?
“Elektra” arrives in stores in March, 2014. Stay tuned to CBR News for more on the series and all the news out of New York Comic Con.