Elektra, the assassin in red, is different from other so called ‘comic heroes’ in the fact that she isn’t really a good guy. But, then again, she isn’t fundamentally bad either, even if her morals are.
Beginning life as a Daredevil villain during the 80s, Elektra quickly became an incredibly popular character, so popular in fact that, after her death in issue 181 of Daredevil, Marvel decided to resurrect her, much to the disappointment of her creator, Frank Miller.
For a while this run was the only Elektra that I had read. Sure, she played a big part in a few of the large Marvel events over the years, most notably Secret Invasion, but none of this really grabbed me or made me want to read a stand-alone story with her in it. I liked the idea of the character, but for some reason just never paid much attention to her.
The book contains all 16 issues of Rucka’s run on Elektra, as well as a one-shot he also wrote. I’ll just say that the story was very different from what I was expecting. I expected a series of adventures with Elektra assassinating people with a fair amount of action. What I got was a story more akin to something like Anthony Burgees’ novel ‘a Clockwork Orange’, in the fact it is more a story of rehabilitation in the wake of extreme violence. That’s not to say there isn’t still action in the story. It’s bookended with some pretty good action which works really well, but the story really is more of a morality play focusing on Elektra finally having to come to terms with who she is and what she’s done.
I will say that I almost stopped reading after the first issue in this collection, due to the truly dreadful artwork by Chuck Austin (if you thought his writing was bad in X-Men, just wait until you get a look at what I’d argue is the very worst comic art I’ve ever seen). It’s true what people say about needing at least acceptable artwork to help carry a story and here we don’t even have that….
I stuck with it and was pleasantly surprised that after 2 issues Austin was replaced and the proper story began. Those first two issues (Elektra issues 7 and 8) are really not needed to enjoy the story, and I would recommend skipping them and going straight into the one shot illustrated by Greg Horn. All those two issues provide is reinforcement that Elektra is pretty much willing to kill anyone for money. That’s it. But, when the actual proper story begins, we are instantly launched into a fantastic adventure in which Elektra finally has to confront what she is.
The writing throughout is fantastic and it really helps develop more depth to Elektra’s character, which in turn kept me reading and made me invest in the character far more. She feels a lot more human than a lot of other Marvel characters and for that I truly commend Rucka. I’d say my only issue with the writing is that the final act feels a little rushed, but this doesn’t affect the overall quality of the story.
So, opinion time.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the story and most of the art, I’d definitely say it’s not for everyone. Those expecting lots of violence and killing may be disappointed, as this is a far more character-driven tale of morals and the acceptance of the consequences of one’s actions. I personally think this kind of story is a good thing and the real ‘emotions’ shown throughout the story help draw you in and keep you reading. As I’ve said, I had a really great time reading this story and the few negatives don’t impact the overall collection.
As with all of the new Marvel Ultimate Collections, this is a great volume and amazing value for money. If you want an interesting story with some great characters it’s worth a shot - it’s different enough to stand out from the crowd, and it might just be what you’re looking for.