HAMNER, RUCKA Revive RENEE MONTOYA' Life As THE QUESTION in CONVERGENCE

DC Comics May 2015 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Cully Hamner always had the feeling that he and Greg Rucka didn't get to finish their story about Renee Montoya as the Question in Detective Comics before the "New 52" rebooted her history.

"I always wanted to do more. And we never got to do that," Hamner says.

But that's changing, thanks to Convergence, the April-May event that's reviving characters from long-gone timelines and alternate earths. The premise for the nostalgic comeback of so many DC characters is that Brainiac has traveled through time and space to collect different cities under domes.

In Convergence: The Question, the two-issue story that begins April 8, Hamner and Rucka are teaming up again for what the artist calls a "coda" to "The Question: Pipeline" story they created for Detective Comics in DC's pre-Flashpoint universe.

The story, which ties into the main Convergence event, focuses on Renee and Helena Bertinelli, who've been trapped inside Gotham City by a dome.

But when Brainiac's assistant, Telos, decides to lower the dome, Renee, Helena and other surprise characters will be dealing with Two-Face and his doppelgänger from the Flashpoint universe, where he's Judge Harvey Dent.

With Convergence: The Question beginning April 8, Newsarama talked with Hamner to find out more about his current work on the event tie-in, and what he's got coming up next.

Newsarama: Cully, you're returning to the Question, a character you'd worked on with Greg before. Did you have to return to the style you used at that time, or is it pretty much your style anyway? Did you have to go back and look at how you approached her before?

Cully Hamner: Yeah, I did, just because I wanted to see what we were doing. I'm not consciously trying to recreate what we did back then, because in my mind, it wasn't all that long ago. It was, what? Four years ago? Something like that. And I don't think my stuff has changed all that much since then. It's not like the world has changed that much. It's not like I'm recreating something from 1995 or something.

It's very much a continuation of what we were doing.

It's not like I'm not acknowledging that some time has passed, even though it hasn't been that much time within story. We're talking, you know, months later — maybe less than a year. Something like that.

Renee is a little different in the story.

Nrama: What's the main difference?

Hamner: She's a little harder, and she's kind of been through some stuff. And I'm consciously trying to make her a little harder looking. A little thinner maybe.

Also, there's a feeling that the people of Gotham have been doing without, because they've been cut off.

Nrama: Right, because of the dome.

Hamner: Yeah, so I'm trying to make her more like she's been through a little bit of a war, even if it's just a personal war.

Nrama: OK, so Renee is under the dome. Everybody's under the dome.

Hamner: Everybody's under the dome.

Nrama: The world is harsh. They're cut off. And you have two issues to have fun with that.

Hamner: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's really like a "coda" to what we did.

Nrama: Even though it's an extreme environment like this?

Hamner: Yeah. But it's sort of like a — I never got the feeling that Greg and I got to finish, really, because there were lots of things going on, and Greg left when he did. And I always wanted to do more. And we never got to do that.

So this is our way to continue.

Dan gave us this opportunity and we both just jumped on it and said, "Yeah, let's just do a final chapter to what we did, within this premise we set up."

There will be a reference or two to the end of "Pipeline" from our Detective Comics run also.

Nrama: And some of the same characters?

Hamner: Yeah, we've got Renee, we've got Helena — Huntress is in the story. She's a pretty major character in it.

Nrama: What costume era is this? I don't remember what she wore in your run.

Hamner: She's wearing a version of what I had her wearing in the "Pipeline" story, which was not the belly window costume. I had her in a different costume in that story — which didn't really take. No one else has really drawn that costume since.

Credit: DC Comics

But since I'm doing some things specific to "Pipeline," I wanted to return to that outfit but streamline it a little bit, because I was never really satisfied with it in the end. So it's that outfit, but it's a little pared down and streamlined and not quite as bulky.

Nrama: Any other characters?

Hamner: I don't want to go too far saying who's in it, because there are some reveals in it. There's a reveal at the end of the first issue that's a really cool character who comes in — someone we haven't seen. Within the run that Greg and I did, there was a character that was mentioned and was present, but is not physically present in that story. But that character shows up.

Nrama: Then the dome comes down. Who do Renee and friends fight?

Hamner: It's Two-Face. It's actually two Two-Faces — it's Two-Face and Judge Harvey Dent from Flashpoint.

Nrama: So you get to draw both versions.

Hamner: Yep.

Nrama: You weren't involved with designing Flashpoint characters, were you?

Hamner: No, I was brought in mainly for the New 52 stuff, and that was a big effort, and I was not the only one involved.

Nrama: So you had to do your own take on Judge Dent.

Hamner: Well, yeah, but he's just Harvey Dent. I have kind of given Harvey this look in this story, because like I said, everybody's been under this dome for awhile. Greg had made a couple of really cool comments in the script, which were that people are hoarding water and they're not bathing, and everybody's under duress. It hasn't been a great time for anybody.

I kind of took that a little further. What I wanted to do was make people look that way. So people are sweaty and they're kind of wilty. My idea is that maybe it's a little hot in there.

So when you meet Harvey, he's let his hair grow, he's let his beard grow, but it's all on one side. He's got like half a beard and half long hair, but on the other side, it's a little bit of white stubble. [Laughs.] That wasn't in the script — I just kind of threw that in there.

Nrama: What was it like getting to work with Greg again?

Hamner: That was the cookie, for me. That was like, basically, you know, Dan calls me up and he says, "I really, really want you to do this. And Greg's going to write it." And I said, "If Greg's doing it, I'm doing it."

And I think Greg said the same thing. He told Dan that he'd do it if I'd do it. So it's almost like we were daring each other to say yes to it.

But I mean, look, Greg is a really good friend of mine, and I love working with him. And aside from being a friend of mine, I think he's one of the best writers in comics.

Nrama: I don't know if you're aware of all the different interpretation of Renee. Like, even on TV with Gotham, there's a Renee.

Hamner: Oh yeah.

Nrama: And there's a new Huntress in the New 52.

Hamner: Yeah, it's hard to keep up with a lot of this stuff. I've seen a little bit of Gotham. I saw their Renee. It's hard to even keep up with everything DC publishes.

But yeah, I've seen what other people have been doing, but you have to do your own thing. You have to do what you think is good.

Nrama: What are you working on now?

Hamner: I'm working on finishing this!!

Nrama: But surely you've got something else lined up. You're not on any of the June titles, are you?

Hamner: No. I hesitate to say what I'm working on after this.

Credit: DC Comics

Nrama: Is it something for DC?

Hamner: It is. I think I can say that. I'm doing a project for DC.

Nrama: OK, let's get back to Convergence. You said Convergence: The Question is a coda to "Pipeline," and you felt like there were some things left unsaid. Do you feel like, with this story, you got to say them?

Hamner: Well, it was almost like we didn't get a chance to …. I felt like I didn't get a chance to do my wrap-up. I don't think it's necessarily that we left things unsaid. It was more like… it was almost like I didn't get to have a wrap-up with that character.

This is a wrap-up.

The ending to this story is one of the best endings I've ever worked on.

Nrama: Wow, that's saying a lot, Cully.

Hamner: There's so much heart in it. I was really happy when I read the last part of this.

Twitter activity