If you thought Punisher was the only violent variable in “Daredevil” Season Two, think again. It’s true that the initial marketing for the Man Without Fear’s sophomore season focused heavily on Jon Bernthal’s gun-toting vigilante; Frank Castle even got a whole trailer devoted to him. But all that changed with the release of “Daredevil’s” second trailer; Elektra has arrived.
The mystery woman appears in the clip after breaking into Matt Murdock’s apartment. She’s looking for help against the rising power of the Yakuza, but there’s something dangerous hiding underneath her smooth, calm voice. Elodie Yung’s playing a sai-wielding assassin, after all, and we get a taste of her brutally efficient moves in a number of moments. But who is Elektra? If you want to read up on the uncompromising warrior, here are the five stories you should track down first.
“Daredevil” by Frank Miller
Elektra made her debut in “Daredevil” #168, the first issue of the series both written and penciled by Frank Miller. With this introduction, Miller forever cemented his place as one of the most important creators to ever work on “Daredevil.” Elektra’s one of the most important supporting players in the hero’s history, and her original stint in the cast (which lasted through to the masterful #181) ranks as one of the best superhero comics ever produced. Elektra re-enters Matt Murdock’s life fully formed as a ruthless assassin for hire. She’s Daredevil’s equal in combat, she has dangerous connections to crimelords like the Kingpin, and she acts as trouble and temptation for DD. Judging by that trailer, it looks like the Netflix series is sticking close to the source material. And, since “Daredevil” #168-181 tells the complete Elektra saga that Frank Miller originally intended to tell, it still serves as the perfect starting place for the character.
Years after Miller wrote what was thought to be the last Elektra story ever, he returned to the character for “Elektra: Assasin.” This eight-issue limited series from 1986 features artwork by the visionary artist Bill Sienkiewicz, operating at quite possibly the height of his groundbreaking run of mid-’80s material. The mature-readers series dives headfirst into Elektra’s mind — literally. The surreal, violent series details horrifying aspects of Elektra’s childhood as well as Elektra’s attempt to thwart a demon’s ascendancy to the presidency of the United States in a mission that pits her against the massive spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. Questions about whether or not the series takes place before or after her appearance in “Daredevil” or even it’s entirely canonical are still raised today, but that’s beside the point; this is Elektra’s debut as a lead character in her own series and it proved that she could exist on her own, independent of Daredevil. If you want to see Elektra cut loose, this is your story.
“Daredevil: The Man Without Fear”
Miller paid one more visit to DD’s mythos with this 1993 limited series, which features art from John Romita Jr. The story retells Daredevil’s origin in a more modern and decompressed fashion, and a number of elements — including his all-black vigilante look — made their way into season one of the Netflix show. The second issue of the flashback series reveals how Elektra first met Columbia law student Matt Murdock; the story involves a speeding convertible in a snowstorm and a gutsy cliff dive. While the series may star Daredevil, Elektra’s young adult life as the daughter of a Greek ambassador to the United States and her flirtation with the vigilante life style are also depicted.
“Dark Reign: Elektra”
The discovery of an alien Skrull posing as Elektra in the pages of “New Avengers” signaled the start of Marvel’s massive “Secret Invasion” storyline. With the real Elektra recovered and placed in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, Zeb Wells and Clay Mann’s “Dark Reign: Elektra” limited series from 2009 pushed the assassin back into the spotlight after a stint of time in the dark. This action-packed thriller features a resourceful Elektra, on her own and trying to carve a new place for herself in an upside-down world after spending months captive on an alien spaceship. The ensuing issues find Elektra on the run from a hitwoman named Nico and place her face to face once again with Bullseye — the man that once killed her.
Elektra’s most recent series, launched in 2014, found the globe-trotting warrior landing in a totally unexpected place — Monster Island! The series also started off by digging into Elektra’s character with flashbacks and a storyline from Haden Blackman that played up Elektra’s specific role in the Marvel Universe; Elektra, the assassin, had to track down and assassinate an assassin of assassins. Artist Mike Del Mundo followed in Sienkiewicz’s footsteps, turning in another visually dazzling chapter in the character’s life that pushed the boundaries of modern comic book art with bold new layouts. Elektra has danced on the cutting edge of superhero comics since her debut way back in 1981, and her most recent ongoing series is no different.
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