Review and summary of Elektra (2014) by author W Haden Blackman, Artist Mike del Mundo
Spoiler Free Review
This run of Elektra is 11 connected issues of action, emotion, and beautiful artwork. For the first run in years and years Elektra is given a standalone that actually features her in her own story with her own conflicts and character development. All too frequently Elektra is shoved aside to be just Daredevil’s ex love, or worse, given a title only to have it focus on The Hand instead of her.
In these issues of Elektra she is given a contract that involves actually bringing the target back alive. As she completes this journey she faces off with a bad guy known as Bloody Lips. I had never heard of this villain before and he has apparently only appeared in this run of Elektra. Which is a shame because he was delightfully creepy.
He consumes his enemies (literally) and gains their memories and powers. He has gotten a taste of Elektra and he wants more.
Elektra has darker memories than most. Especially since she has been killed and returned from death. Bullseye haunts her for this so of course by the end of the book she must face him, her greatest foe. But in between she also battles The Hand, the Assassins Guild, and many individual assassins along the way including Lady Bullseye who develops a very interesting power set in this arc.
Throughout her journey she does what she does best. Keeps going. She doesn’t let obstacles like injuries or dying get in her way. She just takes a deep breath and keeps on fighting.
She also deals with her inner demons of being a killer and what life could have been had she chosen a different path. This is typical territory for an Elektra comic but this arc does it better than most by spreading out her trauma and not just focusing on her being an orphan or having lost love. She gets a full spectrum of issues which makes her more of a full character instead of just someone’s daughter or someone’s lover.
In between Elektra dealing with the heavy emotional issues there are panels of pure action fun. We see her fight through all terrain, in the air between airplanes, underwater, on Monster Island, on snowy mountain tops, and even on dragon back. It has pretty much anything you could want from a comic book!
I honestly don’t see what all of the complaints are about this book. I truly enjoyed it and it’s definitely one of the better runs Elektra has gotten up to this point. The plot does get a little over the top but that’s the fun of comics! Just go with it!
She is an anti-hero for sure. You may not want to root for someone who kills so prolifically. But she does still have a humanity inside of her. She can still make the call to save a life instead of end it and she can still feel guilt and pain and grief and all of those human emotions that her biggest enemies have long ago abandoned. She is complex and not always likable but that makes her a better character and a more interesting read.
Also, the art in this book is awesome!
Fortunately, one thing Elektra comics usually have is crazy, ethereal, mesmerizing artwork and this one is top form for her.
I can definitely recommend this run even if I set aside my Elektra love bias. Please give it an honest shot with an open mind and don’t listen to the haters. She is truly more than just a side character from another comic and she deserves high quality runs of her own. This is a good place to see her shine.
Elektra (2014) Summary
This run of Elektra starts off with her visiting the Matchmaker in order to get a new contract. The Matchmaker is an unusual character. She is basically stuck in the 1920s in fashion and mannerisms for some reason and her job is to match assassins to hits.
She gives Elektra an out of the ordinary assignment. She must find Cape Crow and bring him back alive. Cape Crow has been stealing contracts from other assassins and the Assassin’s Guild is not happy about this, they want him dead. But a mystery person with deeper pockets wants him brought back alive.
Many other players now want Elektra dead for helping Cape Crow. Mainly, a brand new Marvel villain named Bloody Lips. This character apparently only shows up in Elektra (2014) but I really wish he had taken off. He is a uniquely creepy bad guy.
He wears the head of a lion and consumes his enemies in order to gain their memories and power sets.
It’s not too unusual to eat something to gain its power (at least in comic book worlds), it’s the memory aspect that is creepiest. He lives vicariously through his victims but also uses their memories to create maps of locations and people in order to find his next victims.
So Bloody Lips finds our old nemesis Bullseye, who if you are unfamiliar killed Elektra in a past run, so that he can eat him and gain important knowledge about Elektra in order to better find and beat her.
Elektra journeys to Monster Island on a tip to find Cape Crow, Bloody Lips is close behind. Upon arrival she encounters Lady Bullseye and stabs her, leaving her for dead.
She then meets Cape Crow’s son, Kanto, and discovers that the bounty for his life is a fake. She decides to find him and leave him alive anyway, to help the son. Matchmaker doesn’t like this but, who cares, she’s weird and stuck in the past.
Bloody Lips finds the dying Lady Bullseye and decides she has nothing for him to consume but her sword, with Elektra’s blood, has something that he needs much more of. He senses Elektra’s power and must consume it.
Elektra is now at an underwater city where she is supplied with a trident harpoon, a perfect parallel to her typical sais.
Bloody Lips follows the trail to find Elektra at the underwater city where he proceeds to nearly drown her. Her oxygen deprived brain takes her to see memories of everyone she’s ever killed, including her own mother who died during child birth.
She breaks free of the hallucinations and him in order to save Kanto and then Matchmaker picks them up in a plane and they’re off to the next location. Bloody Lips somehow also follows them up in the air and Elektra decides to leap from one plane to the other in order to crash his plane and land separately.
Cape Crow is on the ground waiting for them. They fight and Elektra spares him for the mercy of his son. Bloody Lips comes in and makes his final attack on Elektra. She cuts herself and bleeds into his mouth on purpose. He gets way more than he can handle and is driven mad by her traumatic memories complete with overwhelming guild and torment.
I quite liked this point. Elektra has seriously been through some shit in her day. She carries a lot of emotional baggage around but is able to keep going. A lesser being, even one used to taking on other memories and emotions, is completely ended by her trauma that she handles daily. Elektra is strong in every sense of the word. She doesn’t neglect her feelings, she doesn’t ignore them, she conquers them, every time.
Now, Lady Bullseye is not happy about being stabbed by Elektra and she wants revenge. But she needs medical attention. She cannot afford the care she needs so she makes a deal with the Guild that they can experiment on her if they just keep her alive long enough to kill Elektra.
They use an experimental nanite program on her called the Chrysalis Protocol which activates dormant meta-human DNA. This gives Lady Bullseye a very interesting power set. She can now become incorporeal. Basically, shift in and out of being solid or being a vapor.
Lady Bullseye catches up to Elektra and kills Matchmaker. Other assassins souped up on meta-human DNA also attack Elektra and she beats them while determining that the only way to stop this is to find the head of the Guild and the way to do that is to find Bullseye.
Lady Bullseye now fully attacks Elektra and Elektra is having a hard time defeating someone who can become a gas. But she figures out a strategy. She allows Lady Bullseye to stab her so that she can get close enough to inhale deeply. Elektra breathes in Lady Bullseye’s face until she loses concentration and becomes solid long enough to get stabbed.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how freaking nuts this is! She breathes in her enemy’s face! I love comic books!
Elektra’s next stop is to find man Bullseye at SHIELD headquarters but on the way she’s attacked by The Hand because you can’t have an Elektra comic without them.
But this time The Hand has a dragon. Elektra can’t just beat a dragon so her and SHIELD director Hill enlist some black magick. Elektra eats a dragon heart and can now communicate with dragons. (Comics!)
So she convinces the dragon to work with her against The Hand and now Elektra has a freaking dragon!
With The Hand out of the way Elektra can now focus on Bullseye. She goes into his mind to find the location of the Assassin’s Guild leader. There she finds that Bullseye considers his greatest accomplishment to be killing her, he has a shrine to it. She threatens to destroy his favorite memory if he doesn’t give her the information she needs.
Elektra now goes to Jakarta to find the leader of the Guild. There she encounters a hoard of trained monkeys wearing the faces cut off from baby dolls because what could be creepier than that?!
But also the head of the Guild is a creepy little girl who is a powerful telepath who is very much in favor of Bullseye killing Elektra so she made it possible for Bullseye to come back and be head assassin.
Bullseye shows up and kills Kanto, who by the way was still hanging around. He nearly kills Elektra but she keeps getting back up to keep fighting. Bullseye throws a card at her and it ricochets to hit the young Guild leader. Elektra makes a choice to save her instead of pursue Bullseye who is now running away.
She saves the young leader’s life in exchange for becoming the new head of the Assassin’s Guild. In the epilogue she states she intends to destroy it from the inside out.
It is a damn shame that this run didn’t get to continue. I quite enjoyed the over the top action and ridiculousness juxtaposed with the grounded emotional issues of Elektra’s past.
Also, if you didn’t notice from all the picture, the art is crazy awesome!
But mainly I appreciated reading a full run dedicated to Elektra being her own character. She was not diminished to just be Daredevil’s ex, or her father’s daughter, or tool of The Hand or Guild. She’s her own character with her own issues and her own fight. She’s one of my favorites and here you finally get to see her shine in all her complex glory!
I can fully recommend this one even if I set aside my pro Elektra bias. It would even be a good place to start if you’ve never read Elektra before. You don’t need to know much backstory and it covers the basics pretty well.
Please don’t listen to the haters and give this one an honest shot.
4/5 Bullseyes 🎯🎯🎯🎯
For more Elektra check out Elektra: Always Bet on Red.
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Buy Volume 1 here: Elektra Vol. 1: Bloodlines (Elektra (2014-2015))
And Volume 2 here: Elektra Vol. 2: Reverence (Elektra (2014-2015))