Today’s post is about W. Haden Blackman and Michael del Mundo’s Elektra! This 11-issue series packs blood, violence, and cannibalism, which always makes for a fun ride. Honestly if you like tough chicks and amazing art, this series will tickle you in all the right places.
Plot: Infamous assassin Elektra gets more than what she signed up for when a job to hunt down a rival assassin goes awry.
Initial thoughts: I haven’t read anything with Elektra as the solo and lead character, so I was excited to start this series. The art is breathtaking and slightly weird, making for a stunning visual story as well. Matt is mentioned but not explored at length, which is a big pro to this story. We get to see Elektra as something more than, as Blackman says at the end of #11, “Daredevil’s dead girlfriend” by watching her take on a mysterious assassin, the Assassin’s guild, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Hand, and Bullseye. Quite the repertoire, eh?
One of the cons is that the story literally pushes forward in spite of all. The initial villain is very cool but dies anticlimactically, which then spirals into a number of short overtures of baddies-cum-butt-kicking. While the ending is still satisfying, many of the characters are sorely lacking from underdevelopment, such as the Assassin’s guild leader, who seems to not pack the punch she supposedly has. While Matt is not featured in the story, it also seems like Elektra’s life is dictated entirely by men: Matt, Bullseye, and, of course, her father. Elektra is out for blood because of her father, her “sacrifice” for most everything seems to revolve around Matt when it’s more than taking a wound, and a Bullseye dominates the story in the last portion of the story. There’s some very nice things about Elektra, but it also has room for improvement.
Itty Bitty Research: Elektra is one of those characters I always wanted to look into but have been too lazy to do that, so today is exciting! I started, of course, with the burning question of whether Elektra’s name meant anything. Elektra means a number of things, considering translation isn’t perfect and Greek is a fickle language: “bright one,” “light play,” and “amber colored” (fun fact: “amber” and the root of Electra is where the English word for electricity comes from as well) are all possibilities for her name. (This matters little to the Marvel incarnation, as she is based on the Greek lore, but the Greek lore embeds further meaning of her story in her name.) As for her last name Natchois, apparently the good folks versed in Greek surnames say means squat other than it being the masculine (rather than feminine) version of the name. Conclusion? Elektra is a badass and don’t need no man. Onto the second bit of obviousness: it’s pretty well known that Elektra’s physicality was inspired by Lisa Lyon. This I find funny considering Elektra is usually drawn with a more sexualized rather than muscular figure. Anyway, to go three for three, Elektra Natchois is of Greek descent and vows to avenge the death of her father, making the connections between Greek mythology and her inspiration a no brainer.
If you haven’t brushed up on your Greek mythology recently, here’s what you need to know: Elektra was the daughter of Agamemnon and his wife. While Agamemnon was away fighting in the Trojan War, the good wife found a lover and conspired to kill her husband (since Agamemnon had sacrificed one of his daughters). Electra had a premonition of this and was able to send her brother Orestes away before the murder, whereupon they both mourned the murder of their father. Orestes was later encouraged by the Oracle of Delphi to seek revenge, which Electra helped with. Oh, and her name was spelled Electra. You can read about it in book three of Homer’s Odyssey.
Both Sophocles and Euripides wrote plays about her, but you’ve probably encountered her name by the theory of the Electra Complex. First of all, this was not a term coined by Freud! We can thank Carl Jung for the Electra Complex. Second of all, it was proposed as a foil to Freud’s Oedipal Complex, which seeks to explain why sons are attracted to women like their mothers. Like the Oedipal Complex, the Electra Complex insists that daughters will compete with mothers for psychosexual gratification with their fathers. Whereas there is basis for Oedipus having a sexual relationship with his mother in the source myth, this is not true of Electra. At least in what I’ve read, Electra’s mother remains a mystery for the most part. We get a little peek of her in this series, and while Electra and her mother are not competing for their father/husband, we do see Electra’s and her mother’s existences at complete odds with each other.
While it doesn’t seem that Miller’s creation is entirely inspired by the myth or the famed Electra Complex, we see snippets of both: a beloved, murder father prompting a life of vengeance and an existence at ends with a non-violent life, represented by her mother. This is, of course, not entirely Miller’s creation, as Blackman had some liberties in continuing to flesh her out. Marvel’s Electra is still woefully underdeveloped and dependent on male characters motivating her and impacting her life decisions, so I can only hope that more will be done to fix that.
Works cited: Blackman, W. Haden, writer. Elektra v1, Art by Michael del Mundo. New York: Marvel Comics, 2014. Print.
—, writer. Elektra v2, Art by Michael del Mundo. New York: Marvel Comics, 2015. Print.