In his few years as a professional comic-book writer, Greg Rucka has taken on some pretty tough characters, from the murderous gold smugglers in "Whiteout" and heartless spies in "Queen & Country" to the Dark Knight himself in "Detective Comics." And then there are the many thugs and mugs who have appeared in the pages of Rucka's crime novels.
Now the busy writer is preparing to enter the sinister world of Marvel's premier assassin, Elektra.
During a Marvel Comics panel at WizardWorld in Chicago on Friday, Marvel Knights editor Stuart Moore announced that Rucka will take over the newly launched "Elektra" series after writer Brian Michael Bendis' initial six-issue run wraps up early next year.
The series promises to be an opportunity for fans of the sai-slinging assassin to learn about her European heritage, something readers don't know much about. Longtime "Daredevil" readers may remember that Elektra was the daughter of an ambassador who was murdered by criminals. It was that tragic incident that drove her to a life of crime. Beyond that, little of Elektra's history has ever been revealed - until now.
"He's going to do a story that delves into Elektra's past, which takes her to Greece," Moore says of Rucka's arc. "That should be a lot of fun."
Rucka knows he has some pretty big shoes to fill. Not only Bendis' loafers, but also those of the creators who arguably have had the biggest impact on the deadly-but-beautiful Elektra.
"Frank Miller. Bill Sienkiewicz," Rucka says, referring to both Elektra's creator and the artist behind the legendary "Elektra: Assassin" mini-series of the 1980s. "I'm daunted. But you've got to do your own thing. And I've finally come up with a story I'm happy with."
Marvel spokesman Bill Rosemann is glad to have Rucka - who co-wrote a "Black Widow" mini-series with Devin Grayson earlier this year - working for the House of Ideas once more.
"It's awesome," Rosemann says. "He's known for doing tough, complex female characters. He knows how to write the female mind. And (the story) is totally espionage - and Rucka excels at that."
Rucka's stint on "Elektra" begins with the seventh issue, but that isn't the only story he has planned for the character. He and "Elektra" artist Greg Horn are working on a shorter piece about the assassin for a new series called "Marvel Knights Double-Shot" that is set to debut in October. Each issue will include two stories, each done by some of the top creators in comics. Rucka and Horn's story - which probably will be about 10 or 12 pages - will appear in the third issue.
He also is writing a Wolverine/Elektra story with acclaimed artist Yoshitaka Amano, perhaps best known for his work on "Sandman: The Dream Hunters." The project won't be a traditional panelized comic book. Rather, it will be a prose story accompanied by Amano's illustrations.