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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 57: Elektra Lives Again

Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. This week: Frank Miller! Today’s page is from Elektra Lives Again, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated 1990 (this version is from 1996, however). Enjoy!

If you ever wanted full frontal male nudity in your Marvel comics, this one's for you!

After transforming the industry and getting pissed off at Hollywood (granted, my timeline might be a bit off with regard to the latter point), Miller decided to return to Elektra, who by now had been killed and resurrected almost as much as Jean Grey. Man, comics. At some point, Miller became fascinated with Greek culture (300 was still in the future at this point, but you can see where it comes from), and he drew Elektra far more “Greek”-looking than she had ever been, which was nice. But she’s not on the first page, so let’s get to that!

Miller is back inking himself, if indeed those are inks (this credits say he did “line art”) and not simply Varley painting black lines over his pencil art. You’ll notice that this page, at least, is “softer” than a lot of Miller art – probably Varley’s influence, and one that doesn’t last. Miller seems to be experimenting a bit on this page – only the last panel, where Matt enters the church, really looks “Miller-esque,” and I’m not sure why he would do this page in a softer style when the rest of the book, honestly, looks like Miller (not the Miller of Sin City, but the Miller of DKR, which isn’t surprising as he hadn’t quite moved on to the Sin City Miller yet). Miller does use some of the tricks that he used in The Dark Knight Returns – the first two panels don’t focus on Matt (we don’t know his name yet, but I’m taking liberties) himself, but just parts of his body, adding a sense of chaos and scale to the big city; Matt is just one among millions. Miller also does a nice job going from the brightness of the street to the utter darkness of the church – it’s an inversion of a cliché, that the church provides spiritual light from the darkness of the world, and it shows that Matt’s soul is in turmoil even though his life on the outside might appear okay.

Miller’s writing gives us a pretty good sense of Matt Murdock and the city, circa 1990. We can see that Matt is blind, so the descriptions of the people around him help not only highlight his blindness but let us know how he perceives the world. Miller’s deliberate pseudo-run-on sentences (they’re not really, but they feel like it) mimic thought patterns and introduce a lot of information about Matt’s perceptions, and they also allow Miller to slip Elektra into the narrative almost stealthily. We might not know anything about Elektra (well, from the title we can guess she’s going to “live again,”), but Miller makes it clear that she’s very important to Matt.

I’m not sure if Jim Novak (the letterer) or Miller came up with the font in the upper left, but in a story about a Greek woman, it’s a good touch, as it looks “Greek.” Subtle stuff like this is always interesting, because it shows that the creators are actually thinking about the entire package and not just the writing or the art.

I apologize for the large white areas along the top and bottom of the page. This was released in 1990 in hardcover, and I assume that the artwork fit the page size. When it came time to reprint it, obviously Marvel had to fit it onto a different page size, so the art is a bit more cramped than usual. Maybe I should have chosen a different Miller work, but I thought this was an interesting page because it showed both the old-school Miller and hinted about where he was going. With tomorrow’s comic, he is pretty much the full-fledged late-career Frank Miller we all know and love. Stay tuned! Or, check out the archives!

11 Comments

Nice job on this one Greg. The only place I’d correct you is where you say we all love late-career Miller. (I jest, I jest.)

Unless, of course, you’re counting the 90’s as late-career, because everything from the 2000s never happened. Because that’s how I see it!

Man, I really love the coloring in this.

@ Syon: I agree. It’s one of Lynne Varley’s finest works.

I remember the original printing of ELA. Not only it was in hardcover, but it was practically over-sized.
Quite pricey for its time.

The new printing, however, as Mr. Burgas indicated, was regular sized tpb.

Bottom line is this: this was an excellent conclusion to the Elektra saga that FM started in the pages of Daredevil. Course, MARVEL had to bring Elektra back into the continuity and therefore retconned ELA.
Not entirely sure if ELA was actually a part of the Daredevil continuity.

Perhaps I’m talking out my ass, but this page looks to have something of a Sienkiewicz influence to it. Am I totally off? Damn it looks good though. I really gotta find the Miller DD stuff.

And hey, some of us do like post-2000 Miller stuff! DKSA rules!

DKSA rules, Tales to Offend is a mostly-unknown gem, and ASBAR is surprisingly funny. Frank Miller no longer bothers doing what’s expected of him, and that’s a good thing IMO. His biggest misstep was “Holy Terror”, but beyond that Miller’s modern work is as masterful as ever.

Exactly, HammerHeart. Almost forgot about Tales to Offend, but it’s pretty funny. One story was originally from one of the issue 100s of DHP, featuring Lance Blastoff (think that was the name). Another was a Sin City story, I think, and there’s another LB story that was in a different DHP issue. Good stuff if you can find it.

ASBAR is funny. Have some lemonade!

I wish Miller wrote a regular Lance Blastoff series, I’d be all over that.

Like I said in the other post this is Miller at his artistic peak though it seems to have a helping hand from Geof Darrow. This is also THE best coloring job in comics.
Count me also as a fan of late era Miller.

I LOVE THIS BOOK! Found a first print edition at the local shop and scooped it up immediately. Couldn’t stop poring over the pages all day. This is Frank Miller’s best looking art, ever IMO> Yes, better than 300.

The composition of Daredevil all the way from plummeting from his apartment to meeting all the ninjas in the graveyard is just… staggeringly good.

And does that scene really have full-frontal nudity? I thought he was wearing underwear in that scene.

Riley: Man, I put the book away, so I can’t check (well, I could, but that would be WORK!), but I don’t think that’s the scene with the nudity. I’m pretty sure he is wearing underwear. But in other places in the book, it’s full monty all the way!

Great stuff… Love the “wax paper” part of this story…

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