May 12, 2010

Classic Material- The Death of Elektra

10:03 PM

Klaus Janson and Frank Miller are comicbook gods.

In their legendary run on Daredevil in the 80's they brought many innovations to comics, but tops for me is the reinventing of pulp-noir in a never-before-seen cinematic tone that is common-place in stories told today.

The most poignant and representative of their works is the epic Death of  Elektra arc- that IMO is best experienced through Daredevil  #179-181.  Reading through these issues allows you to follow the many threads and breadcrumbs left by the creators.  And how about those iconic covers huh?

So DD is struggling with Elektra's recent turn to the dark-side-- with her taking up the head assassin roll (left vacant by incarcerated Bullseye via DD) to his archnemesis, the Kingpin-- which takes a toll both emotionally and physically for him and is captured best in Miller/Janson's ninja-action-filled paneling that is still in today's standards fresh.

DD's buddy, investigative reporter- Ben Urich is as usual, caught in the middle of a scandal that is masterminded by the Kingpin to expand his corrupt-reach beyond the streets of New York and into the government.

All of this is played out eloquently in the court rooms, televised news briefings (which has also become a staple of Miller's grandiose style), on street-level through the gangs and as expected in action sequences on the rooftops of Hell's kitchen.

DD also rattled by the recent loss of his acute radar-senses (more symbolic to his inability to grip with Elektra) and continually falls prey to her attacks- as he tries to protect Urich from the Kingpin- and fails.

Through all this only the reader knows how many times Elektra has in fact saved his ass (through numerous battles with the Hand) with DD unaware of it.  Elektra finally crosses over completely in a numbing blow to DD, knocking his ass senseless with a ton of bricks.

In scenes to follow, depict DD scaling buildings and ensuing fights with a crutch and cast are almost laughable but faithfully highlight how he has reached even lower states of low.

DD meanwhile finds a way to get Kingpin to have his puppet pulled from his political campaign by providing whereabouts on Fisk's thought to be deceased wife.  The Kingpin doesn't sit well another cat one up him and puts a hit out on DD's other pal Foggy Nelson as revenge.

Will Elektra carry this mission out-- assassinating her ex-boyfriend's BFF and her old schoolmate??


Bullseye, enraged by the news of being replaced by some new ninja chick as the Kingpin's right hand, springs himself out of Riker's Island and sets out to take revenge on DD for destroying his life as the once bad-ass master killer.  While laying low and shadowing DD, Bullseye comes to the conclusion that DD is actually the blind lawyer dood- Matt Murdock and nearly wets his pants thinking that means his rival is in fact a blind-superhero!

Like the elaborate prison-break, Bullseye realizes the Kingpin's planned hit and concocts a trap to bug Foggy so he can kill Matt Murdock/Daredevil's once lover and his current rival.

At the point when Elektra nears her assigned kill-- Foggy utters their shared history and union through Matt/DD-- and in an instant Elektra is hit with how she may be on the wrong side of things, and how she has been setup by Bullseye.

The climactic, brawl between both masters is fluid, all out, panel-by-panel action orgasmica.  Yeah, I know
that makes no sense but you get it.

  We all know how this ends.

Miller's deliberate and disturbing use of Bullseye's narration though most of the final ish comes full circle and ends at the point of the horrific impaling scene.

With disgust you watch on as Bullseye, puts on his disguise to lurk on to finally catch a glimpse of satisfaction, taking in the shock on DD/Matt's face when Elektra- his love- crawls up to his doorsteps and dies in his arms.

The buzzing silence in the images closing in on DD's face then on to see a smirking Bullseye makes you want to say ahh you sick-fuck!!!

This urge repeated when i re-read this flawless book today.

DD plays Bullseye into no longer thinking Matt Murdock and DD is one and the same.  And we finally see a Daredevil that is finally unleashed with no concern for not instilling serious damage on an enemy.

Dialogue through most of the final fight sequences are left out which is damn genius as we are more engaged in the use of colors, intense movements and the KLAK-KLIK-KLIK train sound that hauntingly echos in our heads.

In the end, DD believes he has killed Bullseye, by letting go of his hand to fall to his demise-- yeah Bullseye ends up alive-- but our hero is forever changed.  Daredevil is a hero no more. 

This post was written by:
big O
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