Last week Marvel Comics detailed what the summer would bring for their sai-wielding character Eletkra. In addition to changes on the regular series that included changes to the artistic team and series writer Greg Rucka signing on for an additional year, Marvel also announced a new mini-series coming this July, "Elektra: Glimpse and Echo," with story and painted art by Scott ("Magic Pickle," "Ancient Joe") Morse. In the release editor Stuart Moore described this series as "...a moody tale that shows a different side of Elektra, as she investigates a call from beyond the grave -- that may herald the return of an ancient ninja menace." CBR News caught up with Morse to learn more about this new mini-series.
"Fans should expect a fun read," Morse told CBR News. "I'm doing my best to add something to the Elektra mythos, both design-wise and storytelling-wise. Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley, and Bill Sienkiewicz gave us some amazing work in what I consider the definitive Elektra material. My goal is to contribute to that era's charm and mystic, to give a stylized look at a character that has been visually watered down since her last rebirth.
"Stuart Moore and I have been working closely to put together a story that will showcase what fans have come to love about Elektra, but to also pay tribute to the early aesthetics of the character that Miller established. Content-wise, readers will be treated to a couple of unique hits, revolving around a recent resurgence in the activities of the ninja group the Hand. Elektra's past as a dead person comes into play, as she crosses paths with a spirit she met on the other side...a spirit who's still being affected by the Hand. It quickly becomes apparent that Elektra's involvement with the situation will be impossible to avoid, as Elektra begins to see Japanese demons possessing almost every face she encounters."
This new mini-series will be a part of Elektra canon, but it doesn't affect the current story line directly. Morse describes this story as a "side experience" for Elektra that affects the character, but as it deals with her past it doesn't directly affect the current, ongoing storyline. That being said, Morse finds writing Elektra to be challenging due to her varied history.
"Elektra is a tough character to write. She's basically a killer, a killer with a dysfunctional past, who's been killed herself. There really is no stopping her, so you really have to try to deal with her on a different level. She's completely alone in life, forced into this lifestyle by her needs as a hired killer. I didn't want to tell a generic story about her going out and killing people. I didn't want to tell a love story, as that would bring all kinds of elements into play that I didn't feel comfortable dealing with in four issues. The one thing no one's done with her is deal with her deaths on a level where she'd have to confront 'the other side.' With that in mind, ghosts seemed appropriate. We get to play with how the supernatural affects her, without 'getting into her head' with inner monologues or narration or thought balloons. We get to experience weird stuff as she experiences it, and then once she gets a handle on it, how she works around it. I'm not a fan of narration at all, so it was a given that the reader would be following Elektra through this, almost as an active part of the story."
Since he's handling both the art and writing on "Elektra: Glimpse and Echo" Morse feels he brings a special added something to this series.
"I think maybe by having one person both writing and painting the book, readers may get a different storytelling experience than normal. When Miller was doing both writing and drawing chores, 'Daredevil' had a certain feel to it that's hard to emulate by using a separate writer and artist. I want to try to capture that element, where the visuals and story work together on every level, where you can read between the lines by seeing a character act a specific way."
Speaking of Frank Miller, Morse hasn't forgotten that Miller, along with artist Bill Sienkiewicz, created what many believe to be the definitive vision of Elektra in the ground breaking 1980s maxi-series "Elektra: Assassin." Morse feels there's a lot of pressure to live up to the standards set by those who previously worked on the character.
"Miller established what was pretty much a closed book for the character, introducing her, killing her resurrecting her, killing her again," said Morse. "Seeing as how she's pretty unstoppable, it's a given that there are more stories to tell, it's just that telling them is such a trick, since the character's so unique. I'm very cautious about what's allowable in my mind and what isn't, purely because of what Miller did with the story. Design-wise, some top-guns have had their hand with her -- Sienkiewicz, Miller, and Janson -- and it's very intimidating to follow them up and try to add something to her world in the sense of how it's conveyed visually. I'm trying to keep things simple, use smart colors with very graphic shapes and textures. Not try to get all tied up in how big her boobs should or shouldn't be, but make her appealing as a character, and make her world appealing, with atmosphere and mood. We'll see what the fans think. "
Back in December Morse revealed in CBR's The Hot Seat how Daredevil was a character that heavily influenced his early formation as a comics creator. Considering the fact that Daredevil and Elektra's histories are inexorably connected you might think Morse would take the opportunity to throw Daredevil into this story. While early drafts of the story did include Daredevil in flashback sequences, ultimately they were cut. Morse felt Daredevil's inclusion in "Elektra: Glimpse and Echo" didn't add anything substantive and he has too much respect for the character to gratuitously throw him in there. That doesn't mean he wouldn't like to tackle Daredevil at some point in the future.
"I'd love to try my hand with Daredevil, but again, it'd be tricky to tell something new with him and have it be important to him as a character," said Morse. "I think Bill Watterson, the creator of 'Calvin and Hobbes' made a really smart move to stop doing the strip because he didn't want to get to a point where the characters were worn out and there were no stories left. I think all character run this risk, and that's why things end. It'd be a real challenge for me to justify to myself why I'd want to tell a particular story with characters that have been around for so long. I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying it's a risky venture, and taste would be a major factor. I did recently complete some Daredevil material for the 'Ultimate Marvel Team-Up' special that Bendis wrote. It was a blast to draw Daredevil and Spidey, and Bendis really gave them a nice character moment to play with."
Morse tells CBR News that editor Stuart Moore has been looking for a project to work with Morse on for a long time. Back when he was an editor at DC, Moore and Morse tried to get a Vertigo book together, but it never came to fruition. Last summer at Comic-Con: International in San Diego Moore and Morse were able to finally hook up. Moore brought up the possibility of a project involving Elektra and well, the rest you already know. But Morse is well-known as someone who works mostly on creator owned projects. Recent series "Magic Pickle" for Oni and "Ancient Joe" for Dark Horse come to mind as well as his critically acclaimed "Volcanic Revolver." So the question is why Marvel and why Elektra?
"It was really all Stuart. He came to me, wanting to give readers a different take on a character they're already enjoying in a certain light. He proposed Elektra, and she seemed like a good challenge, as telling a story about a killer for hire is tricky, if you want to get something worth telling out of her. Marvel's been making serious strides in diversity over the past year or so, and the freedom for someone like me to tell a story with their characters is becoming more and more happenstance. I'm grateful for the opportunity, really, to deal with a character that isn't mine, where I can play with established mythos and aesthetics to possibly contribute something fun."
Outside of "Elektra: Glimpse and Echo" Morse has some other projects fans can pick up.
"Well, there is the 'Ultimate Marvel Team-Up' special, where I was honored to be invited to do the Spider-Man/Daredevil sequence. The 'Magic Pickle' and 'Ancient Joe' trade paperbacks come out this summer, and 'Soulwind' is being printed in Brazil in two big volumes. Wizard's next issue, for April, will feature a 'Basic Training' section on 'How to draw produce' by me, featuring Magic Pickle. And there's an upcoming 'Batman: Black and White' short in 'Gotham Knights,' though I'm not sure which issue...and another project for one of the "Big Two" that I can't announce yet! *tease tease tease*"
And for the "indie scene" Morse has another major project simmering in the pot.
"I'm working on a big hardcover graphic novel for Top Shelf entitled "The Barefoot Serpent," which revolves around the life and works of Akira Kurosawa, while dealing with the central theme of suicide. It's very heavily designed, and will be printed in the same size as the old Golden Book children's books. I'm excited about it, and can't wait to get back to work on it after 'Elektra.'"
Look for "Elektra: Glimpse and Echo" this July from Marvel Comics.