Elektra Lives Again (and Again and Again)

It’s Halloween month, so a post centered upon a woman that refuses to stay dead feels appropriate.

I last wrote about Elektra in May and would like to revisit the character again today, specifically in the Elektra Lives Again! project. One of the main sources I used in that May post was Peter Sanderson’s “A Frank Miller Triptych,” from Amazing Heroes #69 (April 15, 1985), which included several images that went unused in the project. Nearly all these images would also be reprinted in the Graphitti Designs Limited Edition of Elektra Lives Again! and I’d like to share these images today while exploring Miller’s potential thought process on the project. (And thanks to the original poster on Facebook’s Frank Miller Appreciation group for providing the Graphitti images.)

First up is a minor text change revealed by that Amazing Heroes article.

At left is the image from AH, while at right is the image as published. Why the dialogue edit? I can only imagine. Against the backdrop of all the Catholic iconography in this tale, might taking the Lord’s name in vain have made Miller squeamish? Or maybe he just decided Matt (who’s also Catholic) simply would not have spoken such words?

A minor curiosity, ultimately.

From here we get some unused art from the graveyard scene. AH gives us just this one panel:

But Graphitti’s Limited Edition reveals that this was a full, four-page sequence that was reworked entirely.

I gotta tell ya, I think I prefer this to the reworked pages that were published. These pages preserve some of the mystery, as we never actually see Elektra here, Matt only senses the touch of her hand, “soft and gentle as a mother’s caress… cold as a ghost’s.” This touches me on a deeper level than the published pages.

Then AH gives us these Elektra figures, which the caption reveals were intended to be used as chapter intros.

The Graphitti Limited Edition offers the following figures, which appear similar but not quite the same.

Our AH article then offered this rather powerful sketch of Elektra crashing in from above.

The Limited Edition, however, shows this image as a much smaller portion of a larger arrangement of panels.

Was this how the sketch was originally conceived to be used? The space it took up in that AH article makes it feel like it was meant to be a much bigger part of the page.

Finally, the limited edition offers two more sketches of our title heroine. The second includes some words from Miller.

Anyone having difficulty making out the text, it reads as follows:

ELEKTRA LIVES AGAIN was a tough job, the kind you learn from. At many stages, entire sequences were reconceived, months after they’d been executed. Sometimes the changes were simply the result of my finding better methods of storytelling. Other times, seeing what Lynn Varley was bringing to our partnership, I wisely elected to step aside, to restrict myself to only providing the line, and to watch Lynn fill the scenes with light, volume, beauty, and horror. On these pages is a sampling of my work that never made it into the finished story.

What Have We Learned?

As I’ve stated before, I feel this project changed course drastically from inception to execution, but I can’t offer much in the way of rational evidence for this. If anything, these “outtakes” would suggest that there wasn’t much of a change in course at all, at least not once Miller started putting pencil to paper. But I remain confident of this much: When Daredevil #190 (Jan. 1983) ended, Elektra had been returned to life and redeemed; her soul saved as a result of Matt’s love for her, as symbolized by the color change of her raiment from red to white. It was the culmination of both Elektra’s arc and Miller’s initial run on Daredevil. I cannot fathom that after all this, it was Miller’s plan (at least at that time) for Bullseye to just kill her again. So when did the plan change? And why did it change? We may never know.

Still, there a couple of interesting points of discussion left to us. First, in some of the early pieces of art I’ve shared here, we can see Elektra depicted in her full, original garb, but in the published story, we never see her like this; not completely. Just once in the graveyard sequence (which may or may not have been a dream) and then again in the morgue, and in both cases she’s still missing her signature headwear.

Secondly, these garments are red again. Are we to interpret this as symbolizing that Elektra has fallen and been re-corrupted somehow? Or did Miller simply choose to ignore this one very specific detail from DD #190 for aesthetic (or perhaps other) reasons?

And finally, one other superficial detail that may or may not be a big deal to you: Miller changed Elektra’s hair, giving it a ton of kink/curl for some reason, when previously the character had always been drawn with stick-straight hair.

Yet again, we may never know the reason for these changes.

END SIDEBAR: Researching for a different article recently led me back to Gail Simone’s Women in Refrigerators page, where I saw this among the list of dead, de-powered, or otherwise destroyed female characters:

Elektra (the real one… dead)

I assume they were speaking figuratively. All us true believers know the “real” Elektra is quite alive, fully redeemed, and still on that mountantop. There she remains while the rest of us remain here. Waiting.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.