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The X-Axis by Paul O'Brien (

Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra #1

Well, here's an interesting use of the Ultimate imprint.

It probably won't have escaped your notice that ULTIMATE DAREDEVIL AND ELEKTRA will be winding up just in time for the trade paperback to come out in time with the movie. This is surely no coincidence, and apparently the versions of Daredevil and Elektra seen in this story are, at least, intended to be more in key with the movie versions of those characters than the Marvel Universe versions are. It's certainly one way of ducking the problem that the regular Daredevil comics aren't quite in line with the movie, let alone Elektra.

Despite the title, Elektra is the main character in this issue. Writer Greg Rucka is also the regular writer on Elektra, which has turned into a pretty good book while he's been there. Rucka's Elektra Elektra is an emotionally frozen killer who's completely locked into her assassin persona, and most of what he's been doing on that series has been designed to dislodge her from that, in order to make her a better protagonist.

This, however, is a totally different character. She knows martial arts, she loves her dad, she's good at martial arts - and here the similarity ends. Part of that it because we're back at a very early point in the continuity here, before her father died. This issue is mainly about Elektra arriving at university and meeting Matt Murdock for the first time. It's a happy and well adjusted Elektra, in a world which is entirely normal for 99% of the issue.

But the character's background has also received a drastic overhaul. She's now from New York, and her dad runs some dry cleaning stores in Queens. The people who hate that this character is still being used at all will probably have aneurysms when they see this. For the sake of variation, to be honest, I probably wouldn't have relocated her to New York. It'll be interesting to see whether this is a movie decision. Other than the fact that it uses the most over-populated city in Marvel, though, there's no reason to stick her in Greece once you've taken the decision to overhaul the character. The main reason for putting her there is to hammer home the pun in her name, which speaks for itself anyway.

Matt, meanwhile, seems more in line with the usual version of the character. Not that he actually does much in this issue besides demonstrate his skills and serve as a love object for Elektra. It's her series, and this is a nice set-up issue with some likeable characters.

Salvador Larroca, on loan from X-Treme X-Men, is providing the art. The page layouts here are much more grid-based, and the storytelling much more conventional, than they are on that series. Perhaps this is Larroca making allowances for the fact that Ultimate books are supposed to be marketed at readers less familiar with comics, although it may just be to keep with the low-key nature of the story. Either way, it's a vast improvement in clarity compared with some of his X-Treme work. By the way, readers who hate the digital inking used on X-Treme will be pleased to hear that this series is conventionally inked.

A good start to the series, even if the purists will have a fit.

Grade: A