(Above: Lisa Lyon, bodybuilder and Frank Miller’s visual inspiration for Elektra)
Daredevil had evolved, in the words of editor Denny O’Neil, “from a weak-tea Spider-Man to a shooting star.” Miller started contributing more to the plots, and when he and writer Roger McKenzie began to disagree on the comic’s direction, the editor didn’t hesitate to let Miller take charge. “I decided it was probably the art more than writing that was getting attention,” O’Neil said. “So I chose Frank.”
“Everybody liked Frank’s artwork on Daredevil,” said Jo Duffy, “but when he was working with Roger, I don’t think anybody realized they were seeing a phenomenon. People didn’t go, ‘Oh, my gosh, he’s come down from the mountain, we’re saved!’ until he’d been writing for two months.”
Miller worked up a tale about a character he called Indigo. She was Matt Murdock’s long-lost college girlfriend, the daughter of a Greek diplomat. She’d left Murdock—and the United States—when her father was assassinated; her innocence gone, she’d trained to become a high-paid mercenary. Now she was back, and Matt Murdock, as Daredevil, had to stop the woman he’d loved. Indigo was based largely on an old femme fatale from Will Eisner’s Spirit, the international spy Sand Saref, but Miller’s emerging fascination with Japanese martial arts—Indigo wielded a pair of sai, which resembled mini pitchforks—instantly gave the story a new, visually striking, twist. Then he decided to play up the mythic potential of the story by changing Indigo’s name to Elektra. Daredevil #168—the debut of Frank Miller, auteur—was an instant hit. The whole industry finally sat up and took notice of the young Vermonter.