Elektra as she originally looked.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1981
Creator: Frank Miller
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During the 1970s, there were a lot of comic books about martial arts heroes, such as Master of Kung Fu, Richard Dragon and Iron Fist. And during the '90s, there were …

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… a lot about so-called "Bad Girls", such as Vampirella and Lady Death. Marvel Comics' Elektra was a late example of the former and an early example of the latter.

Elektra was first seen in Marvel's Daredevil #168 (January, 1981), as one of an endless series of monthly menaces, but with a twist — this particular hired assassin was an old girlfriend of his, and he was as surprised as the readers to see her doing that sort of work.

Back in his college days, long before he became Daredevil, Matt Murdock had dated Elektra Natchios, daughter of a Greek ambassador. The relationship ended when her father was killed in crossfire between police and terrorists (specifically, it was a cop bullet that did him in), and she returned to Greece. There, she resumed martial arts training, which she'd put on hold while attending school in America. Festering bitterness over her father's death led her into her chosen line of work. Her commitment to it was enhanced by her own sense of irredeemability, when an assassin organization she applied to, The Hand, tricked her into killing the sensei who had taught her the killing arts. All this baggage made a resumption of her affair with Matt rather difficult.

Elektra and her back-story were created by cartoonist Frank Miller (no relation to the Frank Miller who created Barney Baxter in the Air), who was then just starting to make his reputation in comics. Later, Miller was responsible for The Dark Knight Returns, a much-discussed new look at DC's Batman; and still later he created a considerably more complex series, Sin City.

Elektra was shuffled off this mortal coil so fast, it seems she was created just so she could be killed off. The axe fell in Daredevil #182 (April, 1982), when the recurring villain Bullseye (no relation) stabbed her with her own sai (the three-pronged Japanese weapon that was her murder tool of choice). Just prior to this, she'd achieved partial redemption by refraining from killing Matt's business partner, whom she recognized from college days.

But of course, death in the Marvel Universe isn't always permanent, and in Elektra's case it was so temporary it seems she was killed just so she could be dramatically brought back. The axe de-fell in in #190 (January, 1983). What's more, the mystical terms of her resurrection included purification of her soul, leaving the way open for her to become a good guy — albeit, a somewhat ambiguous one, about on the level of The Punisher.

Since then, she's been in several mini-series and graphic novels, and for a while, at least, had an ongoing series of her own. She's now such an important part of Daredevil's back-story, that when he appeared in a movie in February, 2003, Elektra, played by Jennifer Garner (who also had a role in Disney's live-action version of Mr. Magoo), was right there with him. Garner played Elektra again when the lovely assassin appeared in her own movie, released January 14, 2005.

Back in comic books, there is a storyline that takes place in a possible future, in which she and Wolverine (of X-Men) have a daughter who goes by the superhero name of Wild Thing. So far, there hasn't been much romantic contact between the happy parents in the here-and-now, but the way Marvel characters pop in and out of the Realm of the Living, that probably isn't too much of an obstacle.


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Text ©2003-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.