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Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra Vol. 1 By Wil Moss
Written by Greg Rucka, David Mack · Drawn by Salvador Larroca, Danny Miki, Joe Quesada, Jimmy Palmiotti · $11.99 · Marvel Comics
Probably the ideal primer to give to a friend who’s curious about the upcoming Daredevil movie more for Jennifer Garner than Ben Affleck, Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra isn’t really that good of a Daredevil story. But it’s quite a solid Elektra story.
Collecting the four issue mini-series (and issue nine of the regular Daredevil comic for some reason), Daredevil and Elektra tells the story of Elektra Natchios, the daughter of a laundry store owner (instead of a wealthy politician) and a freshman at Columbia University. Matt Murdock is the blind law student whom she falls for, both before the characters assume their vigilante roles of Daredevil and Elektra. But when a friend of Elektra’s is attacked and justice doesn’t come through, Elektra takes matters into her own hands, law or no law.
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The story sounds a little clichéd, and it is, but writer Greg Rucka is able to fill the book with strong characterization, well-paced plotting and crisp dialogue. Rucka’s stories usually deal with some type of attack and a well-planned response by the protagonist (see his Atticus Kodiak novels or Wolverine and Elektra: Redeemer), and he knows how to tell that type of story very well. Watching Elektra settle into a normal college life with new friends and a love interest, then have that world seriously rattled, leaving Elektra with no choice but to retaliate is enjoyable to read.
And art wise, Larroca draws the story beautifully, using the skills that he’s mastered with Chris Claremont over the past few years and applying it to a story where the script allows him more breathing room, creating distinct characters, straightforward but solid layout, and some damn nice covers. There’s a sketchbook in the back that shows off various designs from Larroca, who’s pretty much Marvel’s go-to guy in terms of redesigning costumes and it’s easy to see why with the sketches included of Elektra.
As for the whole Ultimate take on the characters, it’s nice to read a story about Daredevil and Elektra without the baggage that was put on them almost as soon as Elektra first appeared. This isn’t the vicious and cold Elektra we’ve come to know, but rather more personable and human, the type of strong-willed person you might’ve met in college yourself.
The antagonist of the story is a little thin character-wise, more the type of bully you’d find in Animal House instead of a real college (playing keep-away with someone’s books? Who over 15 does that?), but the story is ultimately (ha) about the conflict between what Elektra thinks she needs to do to exact justice and what Matt will do to uphold the law.
The inclusion of Daredevil #9 doesn’t add anything to the book, as it’s a story with Daredevil and a completely different romantic interest, which would likely confuse any new reader unfamiliar with the Daredevil of the regular Marvel Universe. It’s a nice story and has gorgeous Quesada artwork, but it just doesn’t belong in this book.
Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra is a sad story, one that’s been told before, but this is a fresh and entertaining spin on it. While the book is certainly more about Elektra than Daredevil (his suit is nowhere to be found except for the covers, and that’s nice), that’s not a flaw at all. Rucka and Larroca serve up an interesting take on what could have been just an easy movie tie-in, but instead they’ve given us a perfectly good read that stands on its own.