This is the one-hundredth and ninth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and eight. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel had an agreement with Frank Miller that they would not bring Elektra back unless Miller wanted to do so
STATUS: Basically True
With the revelation in New Avengers #31 (SPOILER ALERT!) that Elektra was a Skrull, a lot of discussion has gone on regarding whether Marvel had an agreement with Frank Miller not to bring Elektra back unless Miller himself chose to do so, so I figured I would address it (my pal Eric actually asked me if I could).
In any event, yes, Frank Miller was, indeed, promised certain treatment regarding the usage of Elektra at one point during the 1980s. Specifically, Daredevil editor Ralph Macchio (who edited Miller's acclaimed "Born Again" storyline in Daredevil) promised him certain terms (that's the "basically" part in the above status, as I cannot tell what the exact terms were - were they "we won't bring her back" or were they "we won't bring her back unless you say we can" and so on and so forth) about Elektra, and any possible return from the dead.
Ralph promised Frank Miller years ago that he would keep Elektra dead. He meant to keep his promise. But he made the promise when Marvel was a close-knit company, and Marvel the corporation had no intention of leaving Elektra an unturned stone. The orders for Elektra's return came from above--they wanted to play with her potential as an action figure.
Under the circumstances, I think we did a really good job of bringing her back. The one thing we tried to do was keep Elektra's return a secret so it would shock the hell out of everyone. Somewhere early along the way we had a huge response to the first few issues of DAREDEVIL. And we never expected the "press" exposure to be so relentless. So we let it slip.
As noted, the promise occurred when Marvel was a private company. A few years later, Marvel was a public company, and now the decision was no longer in the hands of Ralph Macchio, but with "higher ups." Eventually, the decision was made - Marvel was determined to not let a good asset like Elektra go to waste - so Elektra was to be brought back from the dead, with Miller's involvement or not.
Miller, naturally, did not like this turn of events, and to this day, he'll make the odd "Elektra is dead" joke here or there.
I believe Macchio attempted to have Miller be involved in her return, but I cannot speak to that with any certainty.
Anyhow, there ya go, Eric (and others)!
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