At 384 pages, the Elektra Omnibus is one of the smallest books in that line and to perfectly honest based on quantity alone doesn't merit the treatment. On quality, however, it's a whole other deal. This is an assembly of some of the finest mainstream Marvel comics ever produced, and truly deserving of the oversized, hardback deluxe treatment. You'll struggle to find this book at a decent price these days (I recently stumbled across my second copy in a local comic shop, much to my obvious and immediate delight) but if you can I'd suggest picking it up, as its quality is beauty is matched only by its scarcity.
It falls squarely on the one-for-me side of Frank Miller projects throughout the two main pieces collected, namely Assassin and Elektra Lives Again. What I mean by this is that the writing is at times frustratingly abstract and the art (at least in Assassin and courtesy of the stupidly talented Bill Sienkiewicz) doubly so. Throughout these tales you'll find none of Miller's straighter linework as exhibited across his mammoth, landmark run on Daredevil (wherein Elektra made her debut and met her demise): though published by Marvel, this is mainstream work by default only. Assassin could easily fall under the classification `experimental', with scattershot compositions and wild characterisation from Sienkiewicz that's as strikingly beautiful as often as it's impenetrable. The narrative solidifies only after a couple of issues and for most of the early part of the series it's very hard to follow, but Miller's refusal to spoonfeed his audience is a bold move on his part and ultimately more rewarding for it. The story is violent in the extreme and boasts mysoginist cyborgs, flying dwarves and five-story battle choppers: more Make Mine Miller than Marvel, all said.
Elektra Lives Again is, as observed in its introduction here, a study of grief. Illustrated this time by Miller (coloured to perfection by his then-wife and 300 collaborator Lynn Varley) it bears more in common visually with Sin City and Miller's Dark Knight work than with his aforementioned Daredevil run and is one of the most gorgeous comics I've ever read. Matt's lament at Elektra's death is the focus throughout and at times it's hard to gauge to what extent the story lies in reality, something left deliberately vague by Miller in an effort that, like any actual dream, only feels like a dream in retrospect. Indispensible.
Included for posterity and to round out Miller's DD/Elektra work after the previous Omnibus collections devoted to his work are an issue of What If? which, like all issues thereof, feels light in comparison to the treasure that comprises the rest of the book and a black and white short from Bizarre Adventures which details a typical mission for Elektra and is little more than a curio.
The usual selection of artwork is included at the back, with Miller and Sienkiewicz's covers for previous collected versions of these stories as well as material from The Elektra Saga which collected pivotal stories from Miller's original Daredevil run. Comprehensive, this collection is perhaps overpriced but certainly a labour of love and essential for any Miller fans, though those pinching pennies ought to consider waiting for the Premier Edition of Assassin which is due out later this year and picking up a second-hand copy of Lives Again: the other two issues are disposable and you'd save a lot of money. Those who favour the lavish, though, should hunt this bad boy down, though you'd be a fool to pay for than £50 for it.
Page count: 384
Issues Collected:Elektra: Assassin 1-8, Elektra Lives Again (extended-length graphic novel), What If? 35 and short story from Bizzare Adventures 28
Creative Team (s): Frank Miller with Bill Sienkiewicz and Lynn Varley
Other books collected: Elektra: Assassin
, Elektra Lives Again
Extra content: Introductions for Assassin and Elektra Lives Again, material from The Elektra Saga series of reprints (covers, pin-ups and five pages to bridge story gaps), assorted Assassin TPB covers, posters and unused pages and original sketches and script excerpt from Elektra Lives Again. Total: 28 pages