Elektra first appeared in the comic book Daredevil as our hero's lover who became an assassin and completely lost her mind as the story went on. Elektra: Assassin starts off in an asylum, where Elektra is so scattered and lost she has trouble remembering who she is, let alone why she's there. But slowly, as pieces of herself come back to her, she realizes she has an enemy out to kill her that she has to kill first, and God help anyone who gets in her way.
Writer Frank Miller makes Elektra completely unsympathetic; she's a psychopath, an unrepentant murderer, who tortures and kills for money or fun. And yet he makes her fascinating as well, and gives us a glimpse of her fractured psyche. The supporting cast is no less colorful, including a soldier who loves violence and hates swearing, a murderous blue dwarf, and what appears to be the love child of the Joker and Millions Knives from Trigun. On her path, Elektra seduces a cyborg named Garrett into helping her. She plans to kill him when she's through, and takes great joy toying with him along the way, but Garrett is such scum with a history of torture, murder, and statutory rape that it's hard to feel sorry for him. And these are the good guys.
Action scenes were large and page-consuming, yet the story wasn't the dull, quick read of most comics where a full page is taken up by someone kicking someone. Here, dialogue, inner monologue, and flashbacks take up plenty of space, making Elektra: Assassin something that actually takes time to read. The art only adds to this, with Bill Sienkiewicz's malleable painted work going from photo-realistic in one panel to surreal in the next when the story dived into Elektra's twisted head. The result was a book that made full use of comics' storytelling and visual capability.
And believe me when I say this: You will never, ever expect the ending.
My one small complaint is an anti-climactic fight near the end. A shame Miller and Sienkiewicz weren't given just a couple of extra pages to make it the exciting showdown it should have been. But it's a tiny, nitpicking detail in a book where everything else is just about perfect.
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