Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review # 170: "Elektra Lives Again"

And here I was thinking I had every Frank Miller "Daredevil" story. "Elektra Lives Again" is an overlooked piece, taking years to move from concept to print. While details are scarce, it's believed that it was put together before the 1987 publishing of Miller's best story "Born Again." Daredevil's housing depiction seems to point in that direction. However, the story was not released until 1990.

Visually, this may be Miller's greatest Daredevil story ever. His penciling had evolved since his original run on "Daredevil," and this stands as the only instance where the character and his Hell's Kitchen universe are drawn in a style that recalls "The Dark Knight Returns" or "Sin City." With paints by Lynn Varley, it's unlike anything else I've ever seen in a comic. Funny how that can be stated about many projects Miller has been a part of. The colours are lush, practically glowing, and adding to a dream-like state that permeates the narrative. There are two absolutely incredible pages in this which burned into my brain: multiple Matt Murdocks walking down a staircase implying panel lines where none exist, and at the climax where Elektra descends from a church ceiling dressed as a nun and firing arrows.

Unfortunately the trippy experience hurts this graphic novel's readability. Much like the excellent "Elektra: Assassin," the surrealism muddies up any form of clarity and thus pushes what could have been canon into non-canonical territory. This is a deliberate decision by Miller for the dream-like effect, but it's just plain inferior to the tight storytelling he'd used on "Daredevil" previously. I'm not faulting him for trying it for one second, of course. An artist needs to experiment. Sometimes it just doesn't work. Also, the ending is completely unsatisfying and feels slightly ridiculous. But with the aforementioned dream-like state, did it "really" happen? Did anything at all in this "really" happen?

Ultimately this is still a solid addition to Miller's "Daredevil" pedigree and fits nicely alongside his original run, "Love and War," "Born Again" and "The Man Without Fear." Good to have if you can find it for cheap, but there are a lot of Miller books you should own first.

Rating: 7.5/10

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