5 Best Elektra Stories Ever

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on February 20, 2017.

elektra-cover

This week the expansion of the Daredevil line at Marvel Comics is complete with the launch of Elektra #1 created by writer Matt Owens and artist Juan Cabal. It promises to rediscover Elektra’s place in New York City and the Marvel universe, and will be following in the legacy of some very impressive cities. For fans only familiar with Elektra from the Netflix series Daredevil, this is a character with a lot of history and who features prominently in some of the best superhero comics ever made. To put it simply, there has never been a better time to seek out Elektra comics.

We’ve previously collected lists of the top 5 must read stories for the other new Daredevil headliners: Kingpin and Bullseye. They’re stacked with some of the best writers and artists to ever work at the “House of Ideas”, but this one puts them both to shame. Looking at the collection of talent that have devoted stories to Elektra is like looking at a murderer’s row of American comics greats. For the past 3 decades she has attracted the top artists in the industry to combine elegance and assassinations into stellar splashes and vicious stories. Looking at that incredible history, we selected these 5 comics as the best Elektra stories yet.

elektra-the-man-without-fear

The Man Without Fear

Issues: Daredevil: The Man Without Fear #1-5

Writer: Frank Miller

Artist: John Romita, Jr. and Al Williamson

Colorist: Christie Scheele

When Frank Miller first introduced Elektra, it was as a fully formed person and a figure from Matt Murdock’s past. She was someone whose origin was told in flashbacks, but whose heart had already been hardened and ways set. It wasn’t until the mini-series Daredevil: The Man Without Fear that Miller along with artist John Romita, Jr. would define Elektra’s journey to being one of the world’s greatest assassins.

While the story is focused primarily on Daredevil, it emphasizes Elektra as the most important figure in his life, even more so than Kingpin or Bullseye. She is an incredible athlete and intellect capable of challenging him physically, mentally, and morally. Her tragedy is every bit as epic as her Greek origins would suggest as well. Romita Jr.’s artwork instills her with both strength and playfulness, making her stand out as a truly unique figure in each scene. When it comes to understanding the character of Elektra, there is no better place to being than here.

elektra-daredevil-hunters

Hunters

Issues: Daredevil (vol. 1) #174-176

Writer: Frank Miller

Artist: Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

Colorist: Christie Scheele

While most critics would look to the inimitable Daredevil #181-182 as the best storyline from Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s run to feature Elektra, it is not the best Elektra story from that time. Her death is tragic, but ultimately focuses on Daredevil. It’s earlier in the story in #174-176 that these creators really gave Elektra her due and defined her as one of the greatest anti-heroes in the Marvel universe.

What makes these issues standout is that Elektra is never a sidekick or supporting figure. In every scene she is just as capable, if not more so, than Daredevil and Gladiator. She leads and fights as well as anyone else. Her fights with the ninja Kirigi are as bloody as any you’ll find in the series. Elektra can take hits just as well as she can dish them out, and when she finally stands victorious it’s clear that she is anyone’s peer in this world.

elektra-mike-del-mundo

Bloodlines

Issues: Elektra (2014) #1-5

Writer: Haden Blackman

Artist: Michael del Mundo

It’s easy to imagine that illustrating an Elektra story would be a daunting task for just about any artist considering who has handled the character before, but not for Mike del Mundo. Del Mundo is one of today’s true greats; just look at any of his covers or spreads for proof. He captures motion with incredible fluidity and uses colors to light up a page and guide the eye. All of his talents were on great display in the most recently completed Elektra series.

All 11 issues of this series were great, but it’s the first half of the story that is a true “must read”. It’s here that Elektra’s origin is explored and introduced for new audiences alongside the chase of a truly frightening killer. All of it is presented with grace and brutality by del Mundo, who manages to combine the contrasting concepts with seeming ease. It is a beautiful comic and a great way to discover who Elektra really is.

elektra-punishermax

Homeless

Issues: PunisherMAX #17-20

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Steve Dillon

Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth

Whereas all of the stories so far present the essential, canonical Elektra, this story provides a different take on the character. In this Punisher tale outside of Marvel continuity, creators Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon allowed Frank Castle to face off against many of the best characters in Marvel with some real finality. That applies to Elektra who enters the story near its conclusion as an elite assassin hired by Kingpin to finally stop The Punisher.

Rather than emphasize her tragedy or pathos, “Homeless” focuses on Elektra as being the absolute best at what she does. Unlike any of the other assassins in PunisherMAX or even Kingpin himself, she is a consummate professional. It’s clear that she is the only person in the series who really stood a chance of stopping Frank and their final showdown is excruciatingly brutal. Until the very end, Elektra is a professional and that’s what make her part in this story stand out.

elektra-sienkiewicz

Elektra: Assassin

Writer: Frank Miller

Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz

This is original graphic novel is often considered to be the definitive Elektra story. That overstates it a bit as it misses some of what makes the character great in “Hunters” and “The Man Without Fear”. However, what it does accomplish is making Elektra forever stand out as one of the most visually fascinating figures in all of superhero comics. The work of Bill Sienkiewicz on this miniseries is truly unparalleled.

The fights are stunning, but the moments of stillness are even more compelling. A single page splash of Elektra standing in the rain or awaiting a target can keep the eye busy for long periods. Every composition is carefully considered and each page feels like it should be displayed in a museum. This is a truly beautiful comic and one that shows you don’t need superpowers to make superhero comics look incredible.

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About chasemagnett

Chase is a mild-mannered finance guy by day and a raving comics fan by night. He has been reading comics for more than half of his life (all 23 years of it). After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with degrees in Economics and English, he has continued to research comics while writing articles and reviews online. His favorite superhero is Superman and he'll accept no other answers. Don't ask about his favorite comic unless you're ready to spend a day discussing dozens of different titles.
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