Creator Spotlight! Greg Rucka’s DC Reading List

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Posted October 11, 2013 by Stuart Kirkham in Comic Books

After working on several independent comics Greg Rucka started working at DC in 1999, and during the naughties this is where the vast majority of his work was published. The character he played with the most is the same one he cut his teeth on; The God Damn Batman, but he also spent some time with the rest of the big three, as well as several smaller characters (which are arguably the ones he’ll be remembered for).

Throughout Rucka’s various DC works there are several long running story threads and characters which jump from book to book. What follows is a loosely chronological breakdown of his work for DC and an explanation of how it all fits together.

Batman: No Man’s Land V1-5
His first issues were on Detective Comics and Batman. These volumes contain a 1 or 2 of Rucka’s issues each, along with the work of several other writers that contributed to the story. Rucka also wrote a standalone story within Detective Comics set 10 weeks after No Mans Land called Batman: Evolution which can be collected separately. For those not familiar with No Man’s Land it was a year long story which encompassed the Bat-family books, set after an earthquake hits Gotham and the government abandon the city.
Murderer
Bruce Wayne: Murderer & Batman: Fugitive V1-3
The next ongoing storyline he took part in was another crossover which was lead by Ed Brubaker, who he had collaborated with during No Mans Land. Rucka contributed several issues spread across these four volumes. As you can guess by the title, these volumes involve Batman being framed for murder and the bat-family working to prove his innocence.

Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood & Batman: Death of the Maidens
Rucka wrote these two mini-series around the same time during his first few years at DC. The first is Huntress-centric story that both Batman and The Question play large roles in. The second involves Ra’s Al Ghul turning to Batman for help when the Lazarus Pits are being destroyed one by one.

Batman: Officer Down
Brubaker and Rucka again collaborate on a “Who Shot Commissioner Gordon” story, as his friend lies close to death, Batman tracks down the shooter and brings them to justice.

imageGotham Central
Beginning in 2004, this is the last Rucka/Brubaker collaboration at DC, this time they worked closely with artist Michael Lark to create something a little different; a Batman book told from the perspective of ordinary Police Officers.

Several ancillary characters were taken from their previous Batman works and the stories were about ordinary cops investigating crimes in Gotham City. Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock make the occasional appearance, Batman plays a small (but significant) background role, and Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen’s begin a journey that will take them into multiple future story lines.

A similar concept about Jim Gordan’s younger years is now being developed for television at Fox, to read more about it check out this previous article on the topic: Gotham Central with a ‘Stache

Wonder Woman
While working on Gotham Central Rucka was also writing the ongoing Wonder Woman series. This followed on from his original graphic novel that was released one year earlier, there are six volumes collecting his run as follows:

imageThe Hiketeia: This is a standalone story in the style of a classic greek tragedy.
Down to Earth: Rucka’s Wonder Woman mission statement, Diana publishes a book promoting Themyscarian values which causes a storm of controversy and backlash.
Bitter Rivals: Batman lends his detective skills to help Wonder Woman solve a murder mystery.
Eyes of the Gorgon: Wonder Woman battles Medusa, and in order to defeat her she makes a terrible sacrifice.
Land of the Dead: Athena sends Wonder Woman on a mission to the land of the dead, and she is joined by Cassie Sandsmark, Wonder Girl from Johns Teen Titans.
Missions End: The last volume in the run is an Infinite Crisis tie in, Rucka had other things planned for the character but his run comes to something of an abrupt end at this point as DC editorial wanted to go in a different direction post-Infinite Crisis.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis
During this time period DC were building towards a significant event which would be named Infinite Crisis. Both of Rucka’s ongoing works would end with that event as the universe was somewhat relaunched with new stories set one year later in the DC timeline. Rucka wrote two significant stories as part of the build up to this story:
Sacrifice
Superman: Sacrifice
The volume collects several issues of Superman, Action Comics and Wonder Woman set during Infinite Crisis. Maxwell Lord is using telepathy to make Superman believe he’s fighting his enemies when he’s actually on a rampage in the Watchtower, beating up his friends and seriously injuring Batman. Wonder Woman battles Superman and figures out what’s going on, using her lasso on Maxwell Lord who tells him that the only way to stop it is to kill him, which she doesn’t hesitate to do.

Wonder Woman is a warrior so she firmly believes she did the right thing, Superman is conflicted as he believes there should have been another way, but Batman doesn’t tolerate murder under any circumstances, so this presents a moral quandary that ultimately divides the DC Trinity.

The OMAC Project
This mini-series follows Batman as he tries to regain control of his satellite Brother Eye from Maxwell Lord, which was originally designed to track metahumans but has been reprogrammed to control OMAC soldiers which take over the bodies of normal humans. Some of the events of Sacrifice are covered because the stories take place over the same period. This volume also includes the Countdown to Infinite Crisis issue as it’s most connected to this storyline.

Infinite Crisis
Even though it’s not a Rucka book, Infinite Crisis should probably be read next in order to fully appreciate what follows, it’s one of the better DC events that a concludes several plot points and has a significant impact on what follows.

The '52' Omnibus

The ’52’ Omnibus

52
Immediately after Infinite Crisis the DC universe was left without it’s three biggest heroes. The main series for each character skipped ahead to their return, but the 52 series dealt with their absence. It was a year long weekly event, which had never been done in modern comics and required four writers working closely together on several interweaving plots.

Renee Montoya has become a depressed boozehound since Infinite Crisis, but The Question comes along and dries her out, then takes her on a quest for truth across the globe. This storyline completely transforms the character and ends with her taking up Vic Sage’s mantle

Batwoman is the newest bat-themed character to appear in Gotham City and is an original (albeit re-imagined) creation in the form of a new Kathy Kane. Some of her past is revealed, including her previous romantic involvement with Renee Montoya, but we will learn much more about this character as she appears in several forthcoming Rucka series.

Checkmate V1-3
With the organisation’s previous leader Maxwell Lord murdered at the hands of Wonder Woman, Checkmate reinvents itself in the wake of The OMAC Project. This was a two year long espionage story featuring characters like Amanda Waller and Alan Scott. Most of the issues are collected in these three volumes, but 3 issues are contained within a crossover with Judd Winick’s Outsiders, and the final 3 issues of the run have yet to be collected.

imageSuperman: World of New Krypton & Action Comics
When the Kryptonians from the bottle city of Kandor are released they set off to colonise a new planet. The 12-issue New Krypton series follows on from Geoff Johns Superman run and tell the story of the Man of Steel’s challenges in helping his people establish a new home world. Meanwhile his Action Comics issues see what happens on earth while Superman is absent and two Kryptonians assume the mantles of Nightwing and Flamebird in an effort to fill his boots.

The Question: Five Books of Blood
Each issue of this mini-series is named after one of the Five Lessons from the Crime Bible. This is the first big challenge for Renee Montoya since she became the new Question, each issue focuses on a different aspect of criminality which makes things a bit more interesting than a standard five-part story. Batwoman makes a quest appearances and this book sets up some important elements for Revelations, making this an essential read for Rucka fans.

Final Crisis: Revelations
At this point it may be useful to have read (or have a working knowledge of) Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre by Will Pfeifer, which explains how Crispus Allen becomes the Spectre. This story is something of a finale to everything that started in Gotham Central, through 52 and The Question, while also providing another viewpoint for Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis event.

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman
Greg Rucka returns to Wonder Woman for this 3-part tie-in to the Green Lantern mega event. This series shows Diana’s battle with the Black Lantern Corps and has some interesting character moments.image

Batwoman: Elegy
This is the fantastic first volume of what would have been a spectacular ongoing series, for an in-depth discussion check out the Batwoman Retrospective. Suffice it to say, this is one of the best pieces of work Rucka did during his tenure at DC, but unfortunately it was also his last.

If you’re looking for more Rucka there’s still plenty to go at, he’s written several novels including novelisation of the No Mans Land storyline. Also a number of notable indie projects like Queen and Country or Stumptown. If you want something a bit more mainstream then check out his short but fantastic run on The Punisher, which features a crossover story with Mark Waid’s Daredevil and an Avengers centric finale.


About the Author

Stuart Kirkham

Stuart is a comic book collector, film and TV enthusiast, and video game crackerjack. Unfortunately these pursuits are occasionally interrupted by having to go to work and do real-life things.