Daredevil: Woman Without Fear has by far been the best tie-in series to the current Devil’s Reign event. Chip Zdarsky has done a great job giving Elektra Natchios her own story that both ties into Devil’s Reign and dives further into her backstory. But now with the events going on in Devil’s Reign getting worse for our heroes it looks like Elektra needs to wrap up this story with Kraven the Hunter and The Hand’s Aka. Let’s see how this mini-series ends with Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Rafael De Latorre
Colorist: Federico Blee
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Days earlier Elektra Natchios admits to Matt Murdock that her original mission was to recruit him into The Hand back when they were in college. Matt says he understands and is not mad at Elektra at all.
In the present Daredevil (Elektra Natchios) is fighting Kraven the Hunter in the middle of Columbia University. Noticing that Kraven is at an advantage fighting out in the open, especially with Thunderbolt agents surrounding them, Daredevil leads Kraven into one of the buildings.
Kraven follows and quickly loses track of Daredevil. When he enters a dark room Daredevil goes full ninja mode by using the darkness to quickly defeat Kraven.
Daredevil then finds Aka in the theater. Aka compliments Elektra on recruiting Matt to The Fist organization. Elektra says that Matt knows what needs to be done. Aka calls out that she knows Elektra means the end of The Hand and how that won’t happen since The Hand makes the world run. Aka suddenly breaks all the lights in the theater and disappears in the darkness.
Elektra quickly finds some regular clothes to hide in the crowd and finds her college friend, Robert “Goldy” Goldman.
They find an alley to talk where Robert reveals to Elektra that Matt is dead and Mayor Wilson Fisk is the main suspect. Hearing this Elektra says she is going to go kill Mayor Fisk.
Two weeks later Aka meets with the latest member of The Hand: the Punisher wearing his new skull logo. End of issue.
The Good: There is no wasted moment in Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3. Chip Zdarsky and Rafael De Latorre effectively close out this side story within Devil’s Reign while leaving the door open for other stories after the event involving both Elektra Natchios and Matt Murdock. It was all efficiently done and really all you can ask for from a tie-in series from a big event.
The opening page with the flashback where we see Elektra admit to Matt the truth about the reason behind why they first met was well done. Zdarsky pays a lot of respect to the shared and individual past of both characters to frame each character’s dialogue. You could tell the way Elektra was speaking from her dialogue and body language that this was something that weighed heavily on her. To Matt’s credit because of everything they’ve been through in their adult lives he understands that he shouldn’t hold this against Elektra. They’ve both done a lot of things that they each have had to get past which makes their current relationship much stronger than when Matt and Elektra have been together in the past.
This made the meeting with Aka at the end be even more effective. Aka knew going in that she couldn’t use this secret against Elektra anymore. So instead of digging into the past Aka focused on trying to verbally break Elektra through the longevity of The Hand to create doubt. Elektra holding firm that she and Matt will be able to take down The Hand sets the stage for an even bigger story to develop post-Devil’s Reign.
The big fight with Kraven the Hunter also further showcased how far Elektra has come. We see that she recognizes that trying to do things in the way she believes a superhero is supposed to fight limits her action. This framing works well to explain why Kraven was at the advantage fighting in the open with a crowd around them. Recognizing this and shifting the setting inside a building where she could use the darkness to her advantage was a great way to put over Elektra’s ability when she isn’t holding back. She was able to still able to fight in a way she wasn’t necessarily using deadly force, rather she was efficiently taking Kraven down.
Now after all this it’ll be interesting to see how Elektra gets back into the main story of Devil’s Reign #5. We already see Zdarsky open that door by having Elektra learn that Matt has been killed by Mayor Wilson Fisk. The interesting angle on this is that it seems like Mayor Fisk killing Matt is public with people not knowing it is because Matt is Daredevil. What this actually means for the Devil’s Reign story and Elektra’s actions in the finale of the event will be interesting to see happen.
Rafael De Latorre artwork was solid throughout Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3. Latorre does a his best work during the fight between Daredevil and Kraven. Both fighters fighting ability was fully showcased in both settings they fought in. I especially enjoyed how Latorre portrayed Elektra’s attacks from the darkness as he, along with colorist Federico Blee, had the red of Elektra’s Daredevil costume pop when she was attacking. Really all well-done action.
The Bad: It is unfortunate that Marvel wasn’t able to time the release of Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3 to be released on the same day as Devil’s Reign #5. Because of how Devil’s Reign #5 is referenced at the end of this issue you lose a lot of the impact because it hasn’t been released. With how it was handled it does feel like Zdarsky is faking us out with Matt’s death, such as Wilson Fisk killing Mike Murdock, who has been posing as Matt since the Truth/Dare arc in Daredevil. The spoiler really dampers the overall impact the ending for Elektra in this story is supposed to have.
The other thing that makes Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3 get dock points is the ending with a teaser of Punisher’s new status quo as a member of The Hand. The way this was all handled feels like an extremely forced promotion for the upcoming Punisher series rather than the next step in The Hand sub-plot. It’s really too bad because I am genuinely intrigued by how Elektra and Matt will deal with The Hand after Devil’s Reign is over. But now with the Punisher involved I am less excited than I was before getting the final splash page in Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3.
Overall: Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3 does an effective job wrapping up Elektra Natchios side mission within Devil’s Reign. The way the story wraps opens the door for Elektra to rejoin the main Devil’s Reign series just in time to play a big role in the finale. At the same time there is a lot of good set up for the post-Devil’s Reign future for Daredevil with how things unfolded in this story. If it wasn’t for a certain character that was forced in at the end of this issue Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3 would’ve rated higher.