Elektra Natchios has decided to seek a fresh start. To leave the familiar behind, she has set her eyes on The Strip: Las Vegas, Nevada.
She will not have to do it alone though as writer Matt Owens—of “Marvel’s Luke Cage” fame—and artist Alec Morgan will be by her side to guide the journey as chronicled in the ELEKTRA ongoing series kicking off in February of 2017. Unfortunately, not everyone in the City of Sin will prove as supportive.
As Elektra packs for her trip, we sat down with Owens to talk the new book, being part of the Daredevil universe, and writing comics for the first time.
Marvel.com: Elektra has a very different presentation to the world in general than she does to Daredevil and a furthermore different presentation behind the masks with just Matt Murdock. With her inclusion in this storytelling universe, how is that affecting your vision of the character? How do you make sure to honor all sides of the character within the story?
Matt Owens: Elektra has a very deep and complicated past. It’s a challenging balance to honor that while also trying to move a character forward. No matter where we find her we know one thing to be true about her above all else: she’s a badass. That part will never change. Putting her in unfamiliar places and matching her against unfamiliar foes is what will bring out sides to her she has not explored or is trying to run from. She’s Yojimbo, wandering from nothing and toward nothing. But the call of a hero is hard to ignore.
Marvel.com: In general, how do you view the relationship between Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios? How do they affect, influence, and motivate one another?
Matt Owens: Theirs is an ideal relationship.
That might sound strange. [Laughs] They bring out the best in each other as far as their fighting and drives are concerned. But they also understand and accept each other’s flaws. Matt and Elektra are two damaged people. It’s hard to open yourself up when you see yourself that way. But these two found one another. But for all the issues they have they are ultimately the one other person they have to turn to for understanding. I think it’s very sweet.
Marvel.com: In general, as a writer, what excites you about being a part of this creative endeavor? How does this extended playground of sorts enhance that experience for you?
Matt Owens: Comics are the greatest! This is where it all started for me. Reading Spider-Man comics as a kid is how I expanded my vocabulary and learned to explore my imagination. My entire career in television is due to my love and knowledge of comics. So now the opportunity to come full circle and work on a book myself is really a dream come true.
Marvel.com: To widen the lens even further, you are fairly new to comics writing, although not comics characters with your work on “Marvel’s Luke Cage.” What is it like for you to tackle this medium? What are the challenges and the thrills?
Matt Owens: I couldn’t be more thankful to finally jump in on my first book! I had an internship in college under such greats as Cully Hamner and Brian Stelfreeze so while I’m not new to comics, this is my first time writing one professionally.
Comics are a purely visual medium. It is all in what you’re giving to your reader. Art, dialogue, everything. That is equal parts exciting and terrifying. Where else could you get to write a scene where a character dives out of a spaceship, shooting missiles at guys while free falling, and [lands] on top of a mountain?
But that said, you also have to be very very specific when mapping things out. Working closely with artists and editors to ensure that what you’re putting to paper makes sense.
Marvel.com: How is it to collaborate with artist Alec Morgan? What’s it like to have your words interpreted through the art as opposed to in the performances of actors? How does it inform your approach to writing?
Matt Owens: Alec is supremely talented. It’s exciting to see your words come to life through the interpretation of an artist. Especially when they have better ideas than you. [Laughs]
Sometimes you get things back and go “Oh man! This is even better than I described it.” The back and forth of collaboration is the greatest part to me.
Marvel.com: How is it as a writer to be working in closer concert with not just your artist but other creators like Matthew Rosenberg, Ed Brisson, Charles Soule, Ron Garney, and so on? How does it inform your process?
Matt Owens: It’s a wonderful team that’s been brought together for the Daredevil Universe books. I’ve gotten to see some of the stories coming ahead for the other characters and people are gonna lose their minds. We’re doing some very fun stuff. And seeing the work the others are doing really makes me step my own game up!
Marvel.com: To focus more on the plot elements of your opening story, what attracted you to the idea of placing Elektra in the unusual to her environment of Las Vegas? How does the character feel about the City of Sin?
Matt Owens: When we find Elektra in this story she is trying to hide in plain sight. She’s running. From everything. Vegas is a place that is extremely unfamiliar to her so that makes it perfect for her to hide out. But much like New York, Vegas has a dark side. And Elektra may not be able to stay out of trouble for long.
Marvel.com: What kind of threat does Arcade represent to Elektra? And vice versa, why does Arcade see Elektra as a threat or a target worthy of his attention?
Matt Owens: I love Arcade! He is so kooky. But at the same time he is not someone to be underestimated. He’s a brilliant inventor and a sadistic killer. He’s incredibly dangerous. It’s a different kind of threat for Elektra. As far as his interest in Elektra, she is one of the most formidable killers in the Marvel Universe. She fits perfectly into the new game he has constructed. So when she comes on his radar he simply can’t resist!
Marvel.com: Looking beyond the opening storyline but avoiding any overt spoilers, in what state—physically and mentally—does Elektra arrive back in New York after?
Matt Owens: Driven. The events in Vegas and the events that lead her back to New York are directly tied to one another. The harder she fights the pull, the quicker she gets sucked back in. We’re hoping to take her back pissed off and maybe with some new toys.
Marvel.com: Overall, what kind of tone are you striving for in the book? What elements are you striving to emphasize?
Matt Owens: I really want to hit the ninja elements of Elektra. What does stealth look like in Vegas? What cool and different ways can she use her weapons? Thinking about what is ninja in 2016 has been a fun jumping off point for her.
Not that I consider [myself] anywhere near as good as him, but [writer] Matt Fraction is a big influence of mine. I’m trying to do something similar to what he did with HAWKEYE. Great action, humor, crime. All those elements are at play in this book. Elektra is on her own. We’ll have some inner monologues with her that show her very dry wit. She’s a complex person so it will be a complex book.
Marvel.com: Stepping around me to speak directly to fans, how would you sell them on adding this title to their pull lists?
Matt Owens: I love Marvel. I am a fan at heart. I want to create the kinds of stories that I’m interested in. Elektra vs Arcade. Who would ever think of those two going toe to toe? A ninja trained in the old school versus a tech mastermind in the entertainment capital of the world? It’s gonna be crazy. Elektra is someone who has been defined by her past. If you want to see what is in store for her looking forward, then you’re going to want to pick this up.
Sharpen your sais for ELEKTRA by Matt Owens and Alec Morgan, available in February 2017!