On March 18th, we’re heading back to the Devil’s playground, Hell’s Kitchen. For fans without fear, both new and old, that Friday will be the start of a binge watch that will cause many to turn a blind eye to other work or obligations they have as Netflix launches all 13 episodes of Daredevil Season 2. The first season took the streaming service by storm and Matt Murdock gained many new fans as he defeated the nefarious Wilson Fisk (a.k.a. the Kingpin). But with a new season comes new challenges and I’m here to get you ready for them. Over the next few weeks leading up to the new season’s release, I’ll be dropping more Daredevil comic history knowledge, focusing on new characters, storylines and predictions. There’s still a fight to be won on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and with Countdown to Daredevil, you’ll know who all the players are.
This week we take a look at the skilled assassin and femme fatale Elektra. While a lot of the buildup to this season of Daredevil has focused on the inclusion of The Punisher, Elektra has been quietly waiting in the wings to strike. To any long time Daredevil fan, it’s obvious that Elektra Natchios will be a major player as she has a long and storied history with the vigilante. While the character has been around for over 35 years, the most important stories are the ones told within the pages of Frank Miller’s initial run on Daredevil.
Elektra was introduced back in 1981 in Daredevil #168. Frank Miller had just taken over full writing duties from Roger McKenzie making this now an All-Miller-Production – Plots, Pencils and Script (Klaus Janson would of course be doing the finishes). Miller had big plans coming down the pipe for Matt Murdock. Bullseye would go a little crazy due to a tumor growing on his brain and see the population of New York as a sea of Daredevils. The Kingpin would jump from the pages of Spider-Man and find his way into the Devil’s path. A gang war would break out to see who would claim Hell’s Kitchen as their stomping ground. All this was waiting in the wings as Miller began what was to be a one shot story about a character he had only planned one appearance for.
The issue begins in typical Daredevil fashion with DD shaking down a criminal (good old Turk!) for information. The info in question is the whereabouts of one Alarich Wallenquist, an international theif under the protection of local mobster Eric Slaughter. Things go a bit awry when another of Slaughter’s goons is waiting in the wings and attempts to take Daredevil down. A chase ensues and a new player, who’s also on the hunt for Wallenquist, makes her presence known in a big way. In a matter of seconds she does the unthinkable by knocking DD out cold and takes the goon into her custody. As Matt succumbs to unconsciousness, he hears her plan of capturing Wallenquist to get the bounty that is on his head. Her voice is unmistakable. It’s his ex-girlfriend from college, Elektra.
We’re then treated to a flashback of Matt Murdock’s time at Columbia University where he’s first introduced to Elektra Natchios, the wealthy daughter of a Greek ambassador. Matt has to get past her bodyguard and do a few acrobatics to impress her but he eventually convinces her to go out with him. Thus begins their year long romance. Everything appears to be perfect until the day she and her father are taken hostage. Matt’s not Daredevil at this time but still decides to attempt a rescue. But his efforts set off a quick chain of events that lead to a shootout with the police and Elektra’s dad getting caught in the crossfire. After this, Elektra decides to reevaluate her life and leave Matt and New York behind.
Apparently, that reevaluation led to life as a hired assassin, bounty hunter and member of the ninja clan known as The Hand. She sets a trap for the mobsters who are protecting Wallenquist. Unfortunately, her plans don’t go to measure and the trap she’s laid gets turned around on her. In the end, it comes down to Daredevil revealing his identity to Elektra and the two working together to save the day. Murdock gets his man and Elektra vanishes into the night……never to be seen again……but that’s not how it ended.
While Miller only planned one appearance for the character, he threw it all out the window after finishing that issue. Elektra would return on multiple occasions during his run on the book, becoming the number 1 assassin in the Kingpin’s employ. She would both team up and tussle with Daredevil, never giving away his secret that he was really the blind lawyer of Hell’s Kitchen. But this too would come to an end as Bullseye would come calling and seal the assassin’s fate in Daredevil #181, titled “Last Hand”.
Bullseye escapes from prison and is gunning to get his job back as the top assassin in New York. On top of this, he’s figured out the true identity of Daredevil. At the same time, Elektra has taken a contract to kill Matt Murdock’s best friend and law partner, Foggy Nelson. She’s unable to go through with the hit when Foggy recognizes her. Her inability to finish her assignment and Bullseye’s need to hurt Daredevil sets up an epic showdown where only one will walk away.
The battle is bloody and ends with Bullseye getting the upper hand. He slices her neck with a playing card and whispers into her ear “You’re pretty good….But me…..I’m magic.” He then plunges Elektra’s own sai deep into her chest.
Somehow, Elektra holds onto what’s left of her life and crawls her way to the home of Matt Murdock where she dies in his arms. This leads to a confrontation where Daredevil leaves Bullseye paralyzed. It would one of the many times where Matt would let his own emotions get the best of him and he would go a bit too far with his punishment. This would once again signal the possible end for Elektra…..but not so.
Elektra would be the catalyst for another Daredevil tale by Miller in which The Hand would attempt to resurrect her as an agent of evil. Partnered with an ancient fighter named Stone and the Black Widow, Daredevil would stand in The Hand’s way and, with an odd assist from the Kingpin, would thwart their scheme. But for a feint moment, Matt would hear a heartbeat coming from his former lover’s lifeless body and would attempt to revive Elektra himself. Although unsuccessful in his effort, DD was able to at least purify Elektra’s soul so that she could travel forward into the afterlife. And this is where Elektra’s story was suppose to end for real this time. Miller would write two miniseries on the character but other than that, she would no longer be used in continuity. But once again, it was not to be.
Much to the anger of Miller, the character would be revived in the 90s, be a supporting player in multiple Wolverine and Daredevil stories, have two ongoing series all her own and eventually become an important facet in the Marvel Universe. While there have been a few stand out stories since her return (and a number of cheesecake pinups drawn by Greg Horn) none of these tales would quite compare to the work done by Miller back in the early eighties. If the television series sticks to it’s patterns from season 1, these will be the stories they’re pulling from.
So that’s the skinny on Elektra. Next week, we’ll be looking at some of the goofier rogues in Daredevil’s gallery.
Marvel’s Daredevil, Season 2 debuts on Netflix on March 18th.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!