Elektra (1st series) #1

Issue Date: 
November 1996
Story Title: 
Afraid of the Dark

Peter Milligan (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (pencils), Deodato Studios (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Jack Morelli (lettering), Bobbie Chase (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Whilst on the rooftops, Elektra comes across three ninjas attacking a theater owner. She takes them down, but offers them salvation by giving them the card of her partner’s dojo. The theater owner, Konrad Weiss, is impressed with her athleticism and grace and he asks if she’s ever thought of dancing. He’s always looking for new productions and could build something around her. She fobs him off and departs, but is unknowingly watched from the shadows by Bullseye. She heads to the rooftops once again, where her mentor, Stick, catches up with her. They chat about her redemption and the darkness inside her. He leaves her with the idea that she needs to fill the void left by her father and Matt Murdock. A week later, she returns to the dojo and finds that Rat, one of Weiss’ assailants, has signed up. McKinley Stewart and King Lau, her partners, inform her that they are strapped for cash, so she decides to take up Konrad Weiss’ offer of a dancing job. While she is gone, Bullseye attacks the dojo and injures all three adults there. Meditating elsewhere, Elektra senses that something is wrong and returns to the dojo, finding Rat seriously injured and Stewart & Lau strung up. They inform her it was Bullseye, and that she would know where to find him. She heads to the rooftops where Bullseye killed her, and finds him along with two innocents who are about to get caught up in something they never expected.

Full Summary: 

A theater window shatters as Elektra crashes through it. She is watched closely as she lands with grace; her entrance almost a performance in itself. The smell of the night follows her in, filling up the theater that, just moments ago, stank of dust and bad luck. Her watcher thinks she’s going to fall and crash onto the stage, but instead, she tumbles in mid-air and lands with effortlessness ease, and takes up a purposeful stance.

On stage are three men dressed as ninjas. Their male target falls to the ground as the ninjas attack Elektra. “Maybe we could have some fun wid her!” one wonders. Elektra leaps over them, informing them that they bring dishonor to their training. They realize she’s fast, but she’s just a girl. They reckon she’s no match for them. They’re wrong.

She warns them that they’re lucky that they’ve caught her at a good time. There were days when she would have done some very nasty things to them. They wouldn’t believe how nasty. One of the ninjas swipes his sword at her, but she jumps over it. Their target looks on, aghast at how sublime she is. Now Elektra is angry, and she causes one guy’s mouth to explode as she kicks it hard. Her anger is like a raw, bloody steak between her teeth. Her anger is bigger than her opponent’s.

One of the ninjas, a guy named Rat, makes a clumsy attack and sees her eyes as he approaches her. He knows. He stops in his tracks and apologizes. “All we wanted was some money…” he stutters. Elektra tells him that it’s too late. She’s lost her temper and will have to kill them all. She really is going to kill them. She can already feel her sais eating into their flesh, but it’s not them she is killing. It’s never them.

She pauses and tells them that they will lay them out for their relatives to weep over. Skilled morticians will disguise their terrible wounds. Brown rats will feast on their eyes, while maggots will crawl from their guts. Right now they are dead, but she will bring them back to life. She puts her sai inside one of the guy’s hoods and lifts him up. She offers them another life. She tosses a card at them with the address of a dojo run by her senseis, McKinley and Lau. As they flee, she tells them to offer to scrub the floors and do menial tasks - relearn the skills they have corrupted.

Their target walks up to Elektra and smiles. He explains that they’ve been squeezing them for weeks. They had asked him how he wanted to die. He replied gracefully, in something by Jean-Paul Gaultier. He’s glad she came by. She asks him to do a good turn to someone else which might engender another act of goodness. The man laughs and Elektra asks what’s so funny. “You!” he replies. She saves his life and then tries to save those thug’s souls. Now she’s trying to turn him into Mahatma Ghandi.

Elektra turns and informs him that he’s a little too weighty. “Ouch,” he replies, before asking her to wait. He asks if she’s ever thought about dancing. She warns him to be careful. He’s seen her temper. The man explains that he’s serious. This is a modern dance company. He’s always looking for new productions. He could build something around her. She replies that what she does isn’t dancing, but he says that he owns the place. If he says it’s dancing, it’s dancing.

He asks her name and where she lives; asking why she doesn’t come along so they can try something. Elektra tells him she likes to keep busy. He asks her to drop in anytime and introduces himself as Konrad Weiss. Before she leaves, he asks if she can do that thing with the chain. She leaps to the ceiling and grabs the chain gracefully. Konrad exits stage left before the thugs sneak back in. Watching from the shadows is a man. He gives a wide grin but remains silent.

Elektra takes to the rooftops. Several thoughts go through her head: thoughts of her father, of her ghosts and about who she thinks she is, handing out scraps of redemption to boy ninjas. She wouldn’t know redemption if it wore dark glasses and carried a white cane. All she knows is darkness.

As she leaps from building to building, she is joined by Stick, her mentor. He asks her where the darkness comes from. She tells him that he knows where. It took her - overwhelmed her when the ones she loved were taken from her. Stick runs after her, telling Elektra that nothing was taken from her. She tore it out and threw it away. He knows it hurts like heck. It hurts when she thinks about her father and about Matt Murdock. She can feel the darkness growing inside her. Elektra says that she doesn’t want to talk about it. Stick insists she must. She must think about when things were good.

(flashback/Elektra’s memories)

Elektra was reared on a sun-scorched island off the Peloponnesus and educated at Columbia. There, she met and fell in love with Matt Murdock, who is also Daredevil. She began to think she was normal, until her father was slaughtered by unknown assassins. She immersed herself in a dark and bloody vendetta against the world, and when her madness began to wane she sought sanctuary. She tried to join a mysterious Tibetan sect of light and purity called The Chaste. However, she was so soaked in the meaty stench of murder and revenge that The Chaste rejected her. Instead, she joined the Hand, the complete opposites of all The Chaste espoused.

She tried to prove herself by destroying them, but the only thing that came close to being destroyed was Elektra herself. She became the very thing she set out to fight: she became the Kingpin’s assassin. She forsook the love of Matt Murdock, but this ended up in a shabby, blood-stained alley with her own sai rammed through her ribs by Bullseye. With her last breath she welcomed death, and wept for the joy of oblivion.


She concludes her story by telling Stick that The Chase brought her back to life. She asks why they did that. Stick thinks that perhaps it was to give her another chance to find peace and to redeem herself for all the crimes she has committed. She’s still a long way from that. Elektra asks why he got her to help Wolverine back on the true path. “Who was helping who, huh?” he replies. Elektra tells him that she sometimes gets sick of his smug, enigmatic voice.

She closes her eyes and says she didn’t throw it away. She didn’t make those people kill her father. Stick disagrees. Everything her father stood for and the love of Matt Murdock and Stavros… it hurts too much, so she tore it out. She won’t find peace until she fills the empty space left behind with something other than darkness. She asks how she can do that. Stick doesn’t reply, and she turns quickly to see that he has vanished.

(a week later, on the Lower East Side)

The three young ninjas who Elektra gave the card to have turned up at the dojo. King Lau and McKinley Stewart are present, and Lau explains that, if they wish to remain, they must scrub the floors and re-starch their brother’s underwear. Then, if they’re lucky, they might let them take out the garbage. Deeray is furious and warns Lau that the only garbage he’s taking out is him. Jay backs him up. Lau asks if they’re not satisfied with their hospitality. Perhaps they’ve not been keeping them sufficiently industrious.

The larger partner, McKinley Stewart, reckons the boys look kinda sweet when they get their tails up. They remind him of Bambi. Lau quips that he cries ever time he sees it. He points out to Deeray that no one is coercing them into remaining there. They are free to leave. Deeray opts to depart and Jay joins him. Rat decides not to join them, opting to remain at the dojo. It doesn’t seem so bad to him. As they leave, Deeray says Rat was just a wuss waiting to happen.

Elektra - Lau and McKinley’s benefactress – makes an appearance. Children rush to greet her, and Rat watches with a mixture of longing and fear. He looked into the abyss of her eyes and cannot begin to understand what he saw there. Now, he sees how the children look at her. She’s so tender. She’s not much older than he is, but he makes him feel like a child. She doesn’t even look at him. She’s probably forgotten he exists.

Elektra talks to the children, and informs them that Rat has done a difficult and praiseworthy thing. He has chosen them over his old friends and way of life. In return, they must accept him as their brother. Rat’s eyes open wide. She knows after all. Stewart calls for them to go next door and prepare for zazen.

Elektra is annoyed that only one of the three remained, but Stewart asks her not to be too hard on herself. What counts is that she might save one kid’s life. Lau mentions that the dojo is broke. The place needs repairs and, if they don’t carry them out, they’re going to be condemned by the Fire Department. Elektra knows that the trust fund left by her father is stretched to the limit, and she barely allows herself enough money to exist on as it is. She replies that it’s no problem. She’ll get them the cash.

Lau adds that there’s been someone snooping around. He thinks he’s watching the place. She asks him to relax. There are lost of strange people in the city. As she leaves, she imagines the place creeping in around her. She fights the temptation to turn around and look, but she hasn’t felt this way for a long time.

(back at the theater)

A dancer is trying to perform, but Konrad’s critical eye knows it’s wrong and he pours scorn on the hapless girl’s attempts. Celia tells him that she doesn’t have wings, but he replies that he’d settle for legs. Elektra enters the auditorium and makes her way to the stage. She informs Celia that her calves are too tense and her mind is too cluttered. When she leaps, she should not defy gravity, but enter into bold contract with it. Celia reckons Elektra couldn’t do much better, but she shows Celia exactly how it’s done. Konrad is in heaven.

(ten minutes later)

The two onlookers cheer Elektra’s performance, with Celia offering an envious round of applause. Soon, Elektra and Konrad are walking, and she asks if he did a good turn. Konrad replies that he gave a pan-handler a dollar, made a larger than usual donation to a local hospice and went a whole hour without cursing the performers. Elektra says that’s good, but she needs money. A lot of money. Konrad explains that he’s not a rich man but, if she dances for him, he’ll give her a whole lot of money. Elektra explains once again that she isn’t a dancer, but Konrad doesn’t believe her. He wants to build an entire show around her. She can have as much input as she likes. He asks her name, and she almost provides her real name, but instead says that it’s Epsilon - the Greek letter for E.

The pair of them step outside into the light, and Konrad tells her that they’ll start the next day. His head is spinning with ideas already. A check is in the mail. He asks if he can call her a cab, but she already has a ride. “The best in town,” replies Wolverine. They roar off with Konrad promising to have the contracts drawn up.

As they ride, Wolverine asks if she’s doing some contract hits for that weasel. Elektra replies that she’s going to be a dancer. Logan asks if she means guys in white tights and skinny broads standing on their toes. Elektra explains that it’ll be modern dance. She’s hoping she won’t have to practice too much. She’s going to base it on Greek legends; the stories of her forefathers.

(back at the dojo)

Stewart and Lau are eating rice and vegetables. McKinley Stewart once fought for the heavyweight title of the world against Iron Mike in Nevada. A lot of people say he should have won the split decision. King Lau grew up in Hong Kong, and often ate at the governor’s table. He was going to be a martial arts superstar, until three members of the Triad turned up on the set of the Harry Wu movie looking for protection money. By the time their bodies were hauled out of the harbor, Lau was aboard a British Airways flight to JFK. They didn’t think there was anything left that could scare, intimidate or alarm them. Until tonight.

As they eat they hear a crashing sound. They find a smashed window, and then the lights go out. They call out for Rat, and Stewart hears someone giggling. The discover Rat, injured, and then meet his assailant.

Meanwhile, Wolverine tells Elektra that he owes her big time. She knows how much she means to him. However, has she lost her mind? What does she wanna dance for? They aren’t in the entertainment business. She explains that it’s just for money, but he offers it himself. She assures him that it’s under control. Logan asks if that’s why he felt her shivering all the way across town. She tells him it’s a little cold, but he replies that it’s hotter than a fur coat on fire. What’s up?

Elektra climbs off the motorbike and asks if, when he was a little boy, he was afraid of the dark. Wolverine says no. The dark was afraid of him. Elektra says that when she was little, she was afraid of it. She’d call out and her father would be there. She had a feeling the other day, just like she used to, about the dark. She thanks him for the ride and heads to her apartment. “Don’t mention it,” he replies as he watches her go.


Elektra has her costume on and is meditating. She thinks about her name. ‘Elek’ is so soft and elastic, right up to that malicious K. Then it snaps like a bone. ‘Ktra.’ Elektra - soft and hard, supple and broken. She moves to a place where the darkness cannot follow, a shady grove perhaps or a tender moment with Matt Murdock. She knows she cannot stay there forever. Sooner or later, she'll have to return to the world, and he will be waiting for her. Hasn’t she guessed yet what it is that lurks in the dark? What it is that turns her into that little scared Greek girl calling for her papa. Hasn’t she guessed yet… who he has sent her?

Elektra’s eyes pop open and she screams, “No!” She quickly makes her way back to the dojo and finds it dark and silent. She enters and discovers Rat lying on the floor. His lungs sound as though they’re full of metal shavings. He might just live. Her two friends have been strung up by their feet and are both bleeding and weak. She asks them what happened. They apologize, but their attacker was altogether too mean. She asks who is responsible for this. A finger is pointed at a wall where a bullseye has been painted in blood. “Someone… you’ve met… before…

Elektra unties them. Stewart explains that they’ve never met him before, but there was no mistaking him. He says she’ll know where to find him. Lau adds that he’s going to kill her again, only this time he’ll make sure she stays dead. She can feel the rip in her intercostal muscle, between the shattered third and fourth ribs where Bullseye slammed in her own sai. She guesses she has waited for this day. Stewart tells her that she doesn’t need this fight. They can move to a different dojo in a different city. It doesn’t matter. All the work she’s done to stay on the right path shouldn’t be in vain.

King Lau adds that she should kiss goodbye to that lunatic. He’ll either kill her or she him, and she’ll lose whatever chance she had of finding peace. She’ll be back where she started. If she faces him again, only one of them will walk away alive. She knows that they’re right. She asks them to get Rat to the hospital. This shouldn’t take long. She begins walking towards the door, so full of bravado, so cool and certain. As she approaches the door, she feels her legs begin to shake.

She returns to the rooftop where Bullseye killed her. She remembers her death well. Her own shabby little Golgotha. She lives her death once again. She remembers his baying laughter and the splash splash splash of her blood. She will never be afraid of the dark again. She will give her fear a name and a face. She hears some footsteps below but then realizes there are two sets.

Down below on the sidewalk, a father and daughter are taking a stroll. He is sure there’s a subway somewhere. His daughter reminds him that they’re in New York, not Iowa. It’ll be safer to get a cab. Elektra drops to the ground and the father is shocked. Thinking she is a mugger, as she is carrying weapons, he says they only have a few dollars, but Elektra warns them to turn around and not to look back. Don’t stop for anything. “Oh my God!” he suddenly exclaims. “Behind you! She turns to see Bullseye crouching against the wall. “Hey,” he grins, “what’s not to like?”

Characters Involved: 



Konrad Weiss

Wannabe ninjas, Deeray, Jay and Rat?


King Lau and McKinley Stewart

Children at the dojo


Nina McCabe and her father


(in flashback/Elektra’s memories)



Elektra’s father, Hugo Natchios

The Chaste


Story Notes: 

This issue follows Elektra’s appearances in Wolverine (2nd series) #100 - 104 and #106.

Jean-Paul Gaultier is a French fashion designer, probably best known for creating Madonna’s costumes for her Blonde Ambition tour.

Mahatma Ghandi was the spiritual leader of India and a strong advocate of non-violent demonstration prior to his assassination in 1948.

Stavros was Elektra’s father’s gardener and her guardian whilst at college in the United States.

These are the first appearances of King Lau, McKinley Stewart, Konrad Weiss and Nina McCabe.

Zazen is a Buddhist method of opening one’s mind in order to see the Buddha’s true nature.

The narration mentions that Konrad Weiss is also a restaurant critic for the Village Voice.

Iron Mike is the nickname of Mike Tyson, once a fearsome opponent and world heavyweight boxing champion.

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