Word Balloon: The Greg Rucka Debrief

J.H. Williams Talks Batwoman

Time again for another Word Balloon podcast, and another edition of The Rucka Debrief.

Click here to listen to the episode in your browser, or right click and 'save as' to take it with you.

Like the espionage characters in his comics and novels writer Greg Rucka knows how much information to leak, and how to stay spoiler free in this in depth examination of his work. We discuss the two new series debuting today in Detective Comics: Batwoman with art by JH Williams, and The Question with Cully Hammer. Plus a thorough look at the Superman books Action Comics with artist Eddty Barrows and co-writing Superman: New World of Krypton with James Robinson and art from Pete Woods.

We also get an update on the new developments in Greg's popular British spy comic and novel series Queen and Country from Oni Press and Bantam Books.

Some quotes from the audio interview:

How did Greg and JH Williams wind up on Batwoman?

"The team was put together by Pete Tomasi it was one of the last things he set before getting into the self flagellation job know as writing ...at that point he was going to be editing me in a book we thought would be surprisingly titled Batwoman...He said forgive me for saying this but I think you've been under served by your artists lately so I was thinking how about JH Williams? and I said "YES PLEASE!!" ...JH and I talked and I realized I would be writing in a very different way...one of the things about JH is abundant from the first issue, it hits you in the face...he is really playing with this storytelling...there is so much on each page and so much subtlety hidden beneath the overt image and what you think you're getting...I honestly feel he has made me a better comic writer."

Greg comments on the hype that surrounded Batwoman since her first mention in a New York Times article, and her appearances in the DCU, despite a clear indication of her connection to the Bat-verse, or why fans should accept her.

"I'm as aware as anybody who knows there's been a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing here .. People should pick up Detective #854 being somewhat skeptical...The New York Times ran an article and things got out of control way ahead of time...you could only tease it for so long...I'm going to cop to it. When we put her in 52 we did it in haste...it was in response to the NYT thing...and consequently there were certain problems that had to be reconciled ...like for her to be Betty Kane's aunt ...there has to be (a sibling relationship to Kate)... so they are now cousins ..you'll see Betty in #856."

Detective Comics #854, pg. 1
Detective Comics #854, pg. 1
Who is the Batman that Kate encounters in this first issue, a flashback to Bruce, or is it the current cowl of Dick Grayson?

"One of the things were working hard to do with this story is to remove anything in the way that will date it...it would be a disservice to the character to say that in her first meeting with Batman, it isn't really Batman. That's why it's intentionally vague. It could be Dick, it could be Bruce...I learned this from Geoff Johns, this story needs to be able to stand up. That's why were not going to connect the initial 12 issue run with any of the established rogues or what's been going on with the current Gotham (status quo). We all want this character around for 10 or 20 years, and this should be the source material for all that. Whoever comes next should be able to look back and derive everything they need from what we have done. That's a tall order, but we're going to try. "

About her "Alfred", and how she goes about her way of crimefighting.

"One of the things we want to do with Kate is show that she can't be Batman she has her own way...Her dad is her backstop...Dad's a former special forces colonel and that goes to answering the questions of her training and her equipment... The Billionaire Playboy Bruce Wayne is such a great solution. He's a genius he's got the money and he's got a house with a cave. What more do you need? (Laughs) ...one of the design ideas that JH brought in early was to say ‘If I were designing the Batcave today everything would be tiny.’ Because that's the way technology moves. Things get smaller. That's how the military works in particular, with compact sturdy durable equipment. So she doesn't need a super-computer, she has two laptops. You can get a Magellan GPS unit and plug it in. We're trying to keep that modern sense, and use it. "

On the co-feature The Question. Will Rennee Montoya inherit the Original Question's main support player?

"Tot (inventor Aristotle Rodor) is still with her, that's Charlie's last joke on the world, was to tie these two people together. at the hip. He left the Lighthouse to both of them...The first five issues will tell the first Question story, the second chapter will bring The Huntress into the picture. I loved how they played off each other in Final Crisis: Revelation. They're like Butch and Sundance ...And Helena will ask that inevitable question "There used to be someone else wearing that blank mask, what happened to him?"

On the Superman books and the New Krypton storyline , Greg discusses the motivations of the 2 Kryptonian villains General Zod and Ursa.

"James and I had this conversation over and over again...Non is Jor El's mentor and gets lobotomized for speaking truth to power...Ursa and Zod believe the governing Kryptonian Council turned him into a vegetable because he was trying to save their planet ...I'm not sure that Zod on a Krypton that would have somehow survived wouldn't have seen an overthrow of The Council...he was obligated to protect his people...you don't become 'General Zod" without becoming a great military leader...going back to the Brainiac story (by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank) , Zod is there trying to save Kandor. That's his first defeat...He's a good General he's studying his enemy anyway he can...you can argue from his standpoint. That his goal isn’t about conquering Earth. It's about survival...He's sees a clear and present danger to New Kryprton, and that's the blue green ball on the other side of the sun. They have made it clear they don't like or trust Kryptonians, and they killed Zor-El...

“Ursa is insane. Something went off in her head...she's sadistic, and all sadists are cowards. That's the root of her malfunction. At some point she was an amazing commander , she had to be for Zod to put her in that position. Something had to break her..."

The new Queen And Country novel is being written as we speak, and is called The Last Run.

"It's Tara Chase's last job in the field. She goes to her supervisor and says 'My daughter thinks the nanny is her mother. You need to give me a desk job. Paul says there’s one last thing I need you to…and it all goes to hell in a handbasket. By the end of the novel the status quo is radically changed...

“If I bite the bullet and do a second volume of Queen and Country comics it is the novel that will set up that new status quo. If I decide I do want to sleep, and eat and see my wife and children, then it will serve as a good tying off point for Chase for the time being."

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