In 2003, when comic book writer Akira Yoshida first started working for Marvel Comics, one idea that he pitched to Marvel editors was Elektra: The Hand, a story that he wanted to write that mainly depicted the origin of the ninja organization. While Marvel editors like the concept of Yoshida’s story, they did not green light the series immediately due to there already being a successful Elektra series running at the time. However, in 2004 Yoshida’s concept would be brought up yet again during an editors meeting which focused on new concepts and series ideas for the upcoming year. Marvel’s editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada brought up Yoshida’s idea on depicting the origin of The Hand, “Joe Quesada brought up the idea of revisiting my ideas for The Hand. My Thor editor, Mackenzie Cadenhead, emailed over and asked if I wanted to take another pass and fine-tune the concept, which I did,” after tuning his story up and turning in its fresher concept, Yoshida was given the green light to go ahead and bring the story to life.
Created by Frank Miller, Elektra first appeared in Daredevil #168 (January 1981). Miller originally intended this issue, which was essentially a filler story, to be Elektra’s only appearance, but she instead became a frequently appearing villain in Daredevil until her death in issue #181 (April 1982). She was resurrected shortly after, but the story contained a narrative note which indicated that Daredevil would never encounter her again.
After over a decade’s absence, she reappeared in Daredevil #324-327 (January–April 1994), and went on to a brief stint as a supporting character in Wolverine (in #100-106). Daredevil writer D. G. Chichester recounted that he and editor Ralph Macchio had
bandied about the idea [of bringing back Elektra] in a casual fashion now and again, but neither of us wanted to do it as a gimmick. On the rare occasion I thought I had a legitimate angle to use her, Ralph was cool to the idea. But as we geared up for what would become Fall From Grace, Ralph out of the blue said, “What about bringing back Elektra?” — and it was really the missing piece that clicked together all the loose pieces of the story in my head, and became the nexus for everything tying together as well as it did. In my mind, it’s always been her to whom the title refers.
This upset Frank Miller, who claimed that Marvel had previously promised him that the character would not be used in any publication. She has since appeared in two eponymous ongoing series and several mini-series.
Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz were at the height of their popularity when this series was released, shortly on the heels of Miller’s hugely successful Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Miller & Sienkiewicz’s Marvel Graphic Novel Daredevil: Love and War.
As with Daredevil: Love and War, Sienkiewicz illustrated Elektra: Assassin using watercolors as opposed to the traditional pencilling/inking method. His exaggerated art was unique amongst mainstream comics of the time, bringing to mind the illustration style of adult-oriented comics magazines like Heavy Metal.