Thanks to a preview in the pages of the official New York Comic Con program, attendees of the sold-out convention learned as they were walking in the door at the Jakob Javitz Center that Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III will be collaborating on "Detective Comics" once the long-running series returns from its "Battle for the Cowl"-imposed hiatus in June with issue #854.
Greg Rucka has a long history on "Detective Comics." He previously wrote #732, 735, 739-753, 755-775 and a backup story in #783, comprising portions of memorable storylines such as "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive," "Officer Down," and "No Man's Land." To the delight of DC Comics fans, the writer's upcoming "Detective" run stars the new Batwoman, Kate Kane, who was first introduced to much in "52." The character was reported to have been intended to graduate to her own title, but the long-rumored "Batwoman" project remains forum fodder nearly two years later.
When CBR News caught up with Rucka Sunday night post-NYCC, he was eager to finally share some details about the project in this in-depth interview.
CBR: The proverbial cat, or bat, is finally out of the bag. You and J.H. Williams III are joining forces to tell your Batwoman story, but it's happening in the pages of "Detective Comics."
Greg Rucka: Yeah. It's nice to finally be able to talk about it.
When we talked about "Action Comics" last month, you said 2009 was going to be a big year for you in comics and you weren't joking.
Are you the first writer to tackle "Detective Comics" and "Action Comics" at the same time?
Well, we know Siegel and Shuster did it before me.
That's pretty good company.
Yeah, it's actually kind of humbling [laughs].
Let's be plain: this is the Batwoman project you have been working on for a while, right?
Jim and I have been working on Batwoman for going on two years now. And we've been waiting to unlock her. This is good timing. With "Battle for the Cowl," it's a perfect time for people to get a proper introduction to Batwoman. It's long overdue.
We're both tremendously excited about it. The whole package, we've got Dave Stewart coloring and Todd Klein is doing the lettering. The book is just gorgeous. It's just beautiful. I don't think I've ever worked on anything so pretty.
Does the Batwoman story spin out of "Battle for the Cowl?"
Nope, not at all. We are writing Batwoman. We are not writing Batman. And the goal here is to establish the character and get her up and running. She is in Gotham but the events in her book during "Battle for the Cowl" do not intercept.
And for people who are desperate to figure out where it is in the timeline, they really need to relax. They're not going to find an answer any time soon.
Are you telling an origin story in the first arc?
The first story is four issues and then after the conclusion of that story leads into a telling of her origin. They are connected. So the three issues that follow the opening four are the origin and then we continue from there.
What can you tell us about the new Batwoman that can serve as a primer for readers picking up "Detective Comics" #854?
People have only seen her in "52" and "Crime Bible." In "Final Crisis: Revelations," she's corrupted by the Anti-Life. But nobody has really seen her. They don't really know who this person is. That's what this first [arc] is here to do. You are going to figure out who she is. You are going to figure out what she does, why she does it and who she has to help her. I obviously get into what makes her different than Batman. They share a lot, more than including a bat. But they have different techniques and different approaches.
It is written so you can pick up "Detective Comics" #854 and you don't have to know anything. And frankly, that's the way I think it should be.
Who else is featured in the cast of your Batwoman run?
She's got her own cast. There are a few people from other books. Maggie Sawyer appears as of #856. We see Commissioner Gordon. And we are using one or two characters that were established in "52," as well. But again, understanding who they were in "52" is less relevant. You don't really have to know who they are.
And there's an important one too, that I keep on forgetting. Bette Kane is there. And I'm not going to say any more about her.
[Editor's Note: Bette Kane was the original Bat-Girl in the 1960s. She was later retconned and returned to DC continuity as Flamebird in 1989. Rucka's upcoming run in "Action Comics" features a Flamebird partnered with Nightwing, both from Kryptonian lore.]
The relationship between Kate Kane and Renee Montoya has been touched on. You've seen it in "52." It factors into "Crime Bible." It factors into "Revelations." It factors in here. This is the story from Kate's side of it.
You mentioned Batwoman's coming out in "52" both literally and figuratively. The reveal made international headlines. Will Batwoman's sexual orientation be considered in "Detective Comics?"
Let's get this straight. Her sexual orientation wasn't revealed in "52." Her sexual orientation was revealed in a "New York Times" article. And the "New York Times" article got all this attention and got picked up all over the place and quotes from the article somehow mysteriously came from Dan DiDio, things that he never said and so on, so by the time she showed up in "52," what happened was every one said, "Oh, the gay one."
Yes, she's a lesbian. She's also a redhead. It is an element of her character. It is not her character. If people are going to have problems with it, that's their issue. That's certainly not mine. My job is to write the best book I can about a character that I think is exceptionally cool, that J.H. Williams thinks is exceptionally cool, that DC Comics thinks is exceptionally cool and worthy of being the lead player in "Detective Comics." And frankly, she should be judged on her merits.
People should be skeptical of the character. They absolutely should. They've barely seen her. And if I were a fan, I'd be going, "Great, we've got a redhead wearing a Bat suit. And it's not Barbara Gordon. And she's gay. This is all I've heard about her." As a fan, I'd be like, "That's not much of a character." And they'd be right. That's not a whole lot to go on.
Enter Greg Rucka.
Well, you know, I was fond of saying to the people at DC the past two years, when this would come up, "There are two people in the world who know who this person is. That's me and J.H. That's it." And I don't think J.H. even knows the origin story. He knows what he's drawing. He knows what we've discussed, but I'm sure there are things he doesn't know that are still running around in my head. Mike Siglain, who has been just a fantastic editor on it, knows some of what's in my head. But he doesn't know all of it. We're going to show you. And when the time comes, people will make their decision. And they should.
And yes, I think there is going to be some media. Shrug. I can't control it. You've got to remember, Wonder Woman got a haircut and that became news. So it will be what it is. Our job is to make the best issues of "Detective" that we can. And I have to tell you, so far, I think we've done it.
What J.H. is doing with the visual language of storytelling in comics is extraordinary. And when people see our first issue, I think people are going to fall out of their seats.
"Detective Comics" #854 goes on sale in June from DC Comics.