Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1 Review – Devil’s Reign Tie-In!

2021 was a breakout year for Elektra Natchios. The character has always been popular but she got to a whole new level as Elektra made the identity of Daredevil her own. She isn’t simply a fill-in. Elektra has established herself to continue being Daredevil even with Matt Murdock in that role. Which is something we are seeing continue in the Devil’s Reign event as Elektra and Matt work together as Daredevil with other Marvel heroes. But given the nature of Devil’s Reign Wilson Fisk had plans in place to make life incredibly difficult for all our heroes and that includes Elektra, whose special file that Fisk created has been obtained by Kraven the Hunter. What could this secret file contain that possibly changes Elektra’s future? Let’s find out with Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1.

Writer: Chip Zdarsky

Artist: Rafael De Latorre

Colorist: Federico Blee

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Wilson Fisk tells Daredevil (Elektra Natchios) gave her file away to someone who wants to meet where she originally tried to recruit the original Daredevil (Matt Murdock) to the Hand. (A scene that went down during Devil’s Reign #2.)

Elektra goes to meet Matt at his apartment and immediately admits to meeting with Wilson Fisk. Elektra admits she is concerned about how the world is burning around them. Matt puts her at ease by talking about how they will deal with Fisk together. Elektra and Matt then spend the night together having sex.

Remembering that after Stick stopped her training at 12 years old due to being labeled a failure Elektra would train on her own until she was 17. During one of her solo training sessions a member of the Hand named Aka proves to Elektra that the Hand can train her to reach her full potential. After years of training and education to follow the Hand’s way Aka gives Elektra an assignment to recruit Matt Murdock into the organization.

Elektra Natchios and Matt Murdock talk about facing Wilson Fisk together as Devil’s Reign continues in Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1.

In the present, Elektra decides to retrace her steps by going to Columbia University where she first meet Matt. There she runs into an old classmate named Goldy (who has become an Assistant District Attorney) and catches up over some coffee. They are interrupted when Elektra stops Aka across the street for a split second.

Elektra changes into her Daredevil costume and decides to continue revisiting moments and places that are connected to her relationship with Matt to find Aka. Elektra decides to go to the cliff she took Matt back in the day (as shown in 1993’s Daredevil: Man Without Fear #2). There Elektra finds Aka waiting for her. As she asks what is going on Aka jumps off the cliff without saying a word.

Deciding that she needs to push forward Elektra heads back to meet Matt and the other heroes at the Avengers Mansion. A deer suddenly stops in the middle of the road causing Elektra to swerve and lose control of her car that ends up tumbling off the side of a cliff.

Elektra survives the crash and notices a dart in one her car’s tire. Elektra puts on her Daredevil mask on and goes searching for who attacked her. Eventually she comes face-to-face with Kraven the Hunter. End of issue.

The Good: It’s no coincidence that Chip Zdarsky and Rafael De Latorre bring back key events from the 1993 Daredevil: Man Without Fear mini-series to be part of Elektra Natchios narrative in this series. Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1 not only pays homage to that mini-series but turns that storytelling into its own as ghosts from Elektra’s past come back to haunt her.

Having Zdarsky writing this mini-series is so important and that is apparent as soon as you open Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1. From that opening sequence that quickly recaps the meeting Elektra had with Wilson Fisk in Devil’s Reign #2 you understand this is all part of diving deeper into the Daredevil narrative Zdarsky has been developing. Establishing this series as an extension of Zdarsky’s overall Daredevil narrative is something I greatly appreciate having been reading these stories since Zdarsky started his run.

Elektra’s secret that she is fearful of tying back into her past as a member of the Hand and the original reason she got with Matt Murdock was to recruit him to the organization makes sense. This isn’t a groundbreaking reveal that will forever damage Elektra and Matt’s relationship. Instead it is something that is tied to Elektra’s personal past that she does not view back fondly. It’s a secret that brings her great shame because she does love Matt and doesn’t want to risk her dark past ruining what they’ve been able to rebuild.

Elektra even going to Matt and telling him that she met with Wilson Fisk shows how far they’ve come. Because Elektra could’ve easily gone into woman on a mission mode by going after whoever has her files right away. Instead, she chose to first talk with Matt and open her self up a bit. Even if she didn’t reveal the secret that could come out this does show growth from when she was originally a member of the Hand. It also further establishes how important Elektra and Matt’s current relationship is to both as they do want to fight together against Wilson Fisk.

Tying things back to her days with the Hand also gave a chance for Zdarsky to update Elektra’s backstory without contradicting what has already been establish. The introduction of Aka as the one who recruited Elektra to the Hand after she spent years training that was partially driven by Stick throwing her to the side worked well. She was a vulnerable 17 year old who jump at the chance to gain all the skills to be the unstoppable assassin as Aka showed with how quickly she defeated Elektra.

Aka has Elektra complete her training with The Hand with one final act as shown in Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1.

These flashbacks worked well to establish Aka as a ghost for Elektra’s past. Her presence unsettles Elektra like no other character. The trait that we do not see Aka talk at all during her present day scenes added to what Aka represents and how she is playing mind games with Elektra. It all drives home how she is the big bad off this mini-series that Elektra will need to overcome before being able to help the other heroes with the events of Devil’s Reign.

With Aka being developed as an end boss for the series having Kraven the Hunter set up as the immediate threat was well done. Taking down Kraven is already given a sense of urgency since he is the one with Elektra’s file that Fisk had on her. So Elektra as Daredevil has great incentive to take him down before dealing with Aka and the events in Devil’s Reign. Setting their showdown in the snowy forest also works well to give Kraven the advantage and show how Elektra is able to overcome the odds as Daredevil.

Rafael De Latorre delivers strong artwork throughout Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1. The best aspect of the artwork was how Latorre, along with Federico Blee coloring, shifted his art style with how the present day and flashback scenes were presented. It added to how this story is about a dark secret from Elektra’s past that she is trying not to let out into the public. The different locations being all tied to this past was also well done to bring out the feeling that we were revisiting things from Daredevil’s history from a new angle.

The Bad: Nothing

Overall: Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1 is a strong start to this tie-in series that is showing us what Elektra Natchios is doing during the Devil’s Reign event. Tying this story to tap into memories of iconic Daredevil stories involving Elektra worked well to create a sense of urgency with this story. If you are reading Devil’s Reign or are an Elektra fan Daredevil: Woman Without Fear is definitely a series you should be reading.

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