365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

T-shirt #84: Elektra

T-shirt #84: Elektra

This shirt qualifies as another shirt that I purchased not really intending to wear outside of the house. I liked the image, and so I ordered and purchased it. I have relaxed my restrictions on shirts that I will wear in public and those I will not. If I have to run to the grocery store or to drop off the puppy at Camp Fido, you will likely see me in one of these shirts. Unlike the Conan shirt from T-shirt #21, you might see me more places wearing this shirt. Part of this fashion choice is that the shirt features just the face of the character of Elektra, created by Frank Miller in the Daredevil comics from Marvel. No words. Just the image. That's powerful.

This shirt, billed as the "Daredevil Elektra Miller T-shirt" is for sale on stylin online and other locations. Our local comic shoppe, Fanfare Sports and Entertainment (where I bought mine) should be able to obtain it, if you are local. I always advocate purchasing from a local business over an Internet business in order to keep local revenue local and to support a thriving, healthy local economy.

I have not mentioned yet in over 80 blog posts that I worked at Marvel Comics in the Epic division as a college intern in 1985. I helped with the production of the collected Elektra Saga and the Elektra Assassin comics featured in pictures here on this page.

The individual issues of the Elektra Saga were published in 1984, just before my tenure at Marvel. Elektra Assassin was being discussed and plans were afoot when I was at Marvel and in the Epic offices. I remember riding the cargo elevator with Bill Sienkiewciz, who I considered a highly successful artist due to his expensive and very cool parachute, cargo pants (Urban Outfitters?) and his expensive, retro-military leather portfolio.

Back to Elektra. Comic books have a great deal in common with soap operas. Obviously, both are episodic fiction. But really, both are deeply rooted in the romantic traditions. Often comic book creators have forgotten that many (though one cannot say all) super heroes are human beings. Batman is not just interesting because he has cool gadgets and a great costume and breaks bones to teach criminals a lesson; Batman is also Bruce Wayne, and the stories must not ignore Wayne. The same holds true for Clark Kent-Superman, Peter Parker-Spider-Man, and Matt Murdock-Daredevil among so many, many more.

Like soap operas, the supporting cast creates the canvas on which the artist will work. The heroes fight crime and save the day, and often those stories are compelling, but the stories that keep the readers returning to the book are the personal relationships between the hero and a large cast of supporting characters, which often include the villains he/she fights as well as loved ones, romantic interests, former romantic interests, co-workers, the friendly bartender, and best friends. Tragedy often figures into these stories, giving comic books their strongest tie to soap operas: both are melodramas. Pathos is a necessary ingredient.

Matt Murdock's personal life has been explored in the pages of Daredevil comics with great consistency and complexity. Never married, Murdock/Daredevil has had a string of relationships, many of which ended tragically because of his dual-identity. When Frank Miller took over both writing and art duties on the Daredevil comic (though much of the art was finished from very "loose" pencils by Klaus Janson),  Miller invented the character of Elektra, who debuted in the very first issue that Miller wrote and pencilled (Daredevil #168 January 1981). Miller established Elektra as the great love of Murdock's life from his college days at Columbia University in New York. After her father was murdered, Elektra left New York, and Murdock lost track of her. She joined a ninja sect called the Hand, another invention of Miller's, which tied into Murdock's own expanded origin and martial arts training with a man named Stick.

One year (our time) after her debut, Elektra is killed by Daredevil's arch enemy Bullseye  in Daredevil #181 (April 1982). But the story does not end there. The Hand captures her body to use ninja magic to resurrect her. Daredevil intervenes aided by Stone, an ally of Stick's. Though Daredevil reclaims Elektra's body from the Hand, he is unable to resurrect her, but his love for her has a purifying effect on her soul. At the end of the story, Stone and Elektra's body disappear, leaving the story wonderfully open-ended.  The story should have ended there. Miller's work was done, by and large. But this is not how things work in comics. The original creator's vision is not honored, and since the company (in this case Marvel) owns the character, and she sells lots of comics, her story will continue.

Miller's work with Marvel and his take of Elektra wrap up with two other comics pictured above. Miller wrote a series drawn by Bill Sienkiewciz, Elektra: Assassin (1986), which is more parody than a part of the regular Marvel universe. Much debate in comics circles has surrounded when the story takes place. Epic editor Jo Duffy explained in the Elektra Omnibus that Elektra: Assassin takes place prior to Elektra's appearances in Daredevil. In 1990, Miller and Dark Knight Returns partner Lynn Varley complete a one-shot graphic novel called Elektra Lives Again, which depicts the story of her resurrection following the events he chronicled in the Daredevil comics of the early 1980s.

Elektra is a current character on the Marvel landscape and is featured in the new Thunderbolts series as of this writing (June, 2013).

I am not going to discuss the Elektra movie, even though I like Jennifer Garner very much. As with the Daredevil movie, it wasn't all bad (and it was not much good either), but the shirt is not meant to invoke the movie, so I'll leave it at that.

I cannot claim I read the Elektra story from the start with the issues of Daredevil starting in 1981. In fact, it was my good friend Mark Brager, who I met at college, who introduced me to this saga and those Miller Daredevil comics along with several other great comics (Cerebus, American Flagg, Swamp Thing), due to his proximity to a direct sales comic shop, something Kalamazoo lacked until around 1983 with establishing of Fanfare Sports and Entertainment.


ELEKTRA story on Wikipedia.

ELEKTRA on Marvel Wiki.

No extra ruminations or reflections today. Just straight up comic recap. Mostly, as I did write about the episodic narrative, melodrama, and romance. I could analyze the fantasy/fetish aspects of a character like Elektra for both her creator and her audience, but these ideas should be self-evident. Aren't they?

From the Elektra Lives Again hardcover - Miller/Varley-1990

- chris tower - 1306.13 - 7:55