Monday, December 11, 2006

Book-A-Day #147 (12/10): Elektra Lives Again by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

I'd never read this before; when it was originally published (1990, I see), I decided to wait for the paperback -- I guess some inklings of Miller's future suckage had already wafted into my head. About a decade later, Marvel announced they would finally reprint this in a paperback, then they changed their minds and put out a new hardcover reprint (the bastards). I found a copy in a comics shop a couple of weeks ago (I went with the boys; they wanted to buy Yu-Gi-Oh! cards) for about half price -- $11.99 -- and so I finally got it.

To place this in the Miller timeline, it's just as he started sliding down that horrible long slope. 1990 was in between Give Me Liberty (which had some good points, though subtlety and wit were not among them) and Hardboiled (which had great eye-candy from Geoff Darrow, but found Miller lurching into Pointless Ultraviolence Mode). This is also the last Miller-drawn work before the original Sin City (which I don't think sucks, though the later stories batter that horse beyond recognition).

Miller is just toying with the boxy stylization that will eventually engulf his art here; faces are a bit blocky for no good reason, but otherwise things look like what they are. The story is mildly pointless: Matt Murdoch (the guy who, if I recall correctly, doesn't put the Daredevil suit on once in the book) is obsessing about his dead ninja assassin not-quite-girlfriend, Elektra, whom we know from the Daredevil series was resurrected (presumably to have a second, less violent, chance at life). The evil ninjas, the Hand, kill and resurrect Daredevil's arch-foe, Bullseye, as a vessel for their dead leader, but Elektra and Matt kill him again (and a few ninjas along the way, of course). Elektra may or may not be dead at the end of this story; Matt thinks she is, but then, he was wrong at the beginning on that same point.

So it's a whole lot of running around angsting and killing ninjas. That sounds like a recipe for a good story, but it's all flat -- maybe because I'm reading it over ten years later and I know Elektra has had an ongoing series since then, so she was rebooted at least once. (And I'm pretty sure Bullseye didn't stay dead; this might not be anywhere near continuity at this point.)

On the Miller scale of Elektra stories, this is the least -- it's below the stories in Miller's first Daredevil run, and far below the transcendently wonderful (and goofy) Elektra: Assassin. But I guess it was worth buying a half-price hardcover to finally read it.

The Fabulous Book-A-Day Index!

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