DC Comics is having a line-wide Rebirth beginning in June, but for incoming Wonder Woman series writer Greg Rucka it's a return - but both he and the character have changed tremendously since his first run on the title.
Rucka is working with artists Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott on two concurrent arcs in Rebirth's new Wonder Woman series. Sharp's storyline, "The Lies," is set in the modern-day 'Man's World', while Scott's 'Year One' will delve into Diana Prince first step into the world outside her homeland ten years prior.
Rucka had a three-year run on Wonder Woman in the early 2000s, picking up several Eisner Award nominations in the process. But as he tells Newsarama now, he's changed over the years and so has Diana, and he wants to honor what's happened and take advantage of the more nuanced take he has on the DC icon. Newsarama spoke to Rucka, as well as Scott and Sharp, earlier this week.
Newsarama: Greg, what can you say about the unspecified “unimaginable loss” that kick starts this new volume of Wonder Woman?
Greg Rucka: It’s the solicits text. [laughs]
I don’t want to spoil anything, and it matters a great deal to me that people be able to pick up Liam’s Wonder Woman #1 fresh after Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 by Liam and Matt Clark. I don’t want a trail of breadcrumbs.
Solicits are meant to hype books, but I believe that was written before I actually completed the first script. I know exactly what they were referring to however, and now I can say that Diana has lost a couple of things.
Nrama: Greg, this is your second major run with the Wonder Woman character, and I know fans don’t want to forget it – and don’t want you to, either. But how has the character changed for you, and how have you changed?
Rucka: It’s been well over a decade since I’ve written Diana consistently. A lot has happened in the interim, and it would be rude to say they didn’t happen. It’s crucial that we want to honor what we’re working with, and what has been done before, and use it where we can to the best of our abilities.
And speaking personally, I am a very different person than I was then. So the kind of stories that I believe would honor and serve Diana best are different than when I was writing her in 2005, and I think that’s crucial.
My relationship to Wonder Woman has changed. If anything, I adore her even more. She’s still my favorite of all the superheroes, hands down. She’s the winner for me: from what she represents, to the nature of her heroism, and the kind of stories she can tell. She has an aspirational nature that I found when I was given the privilege of writing her the first time. And in that sense, I’m doubling down here on the things I believe make her so great.
Nrama: Liam, your storyline, “The Lies,” is set in the modern day. What about the story made it something you wanted it to be, beyond just Greg’s name and the character involved?
Liam Sharp: Actually, I’ve been associated to this project for the longest, even before Greg and Nicola came on board. Which was a funny situation, because obviously there can be different views on the characters involved. But as soon as Greg became attached, we jumped on the phone for an hour and a half and both were very happy by the end of the call.
I always told Greg that I get nervous working with new people, but it was exciting to find out how much he and I had in common. My wife was listening in casually to our conversation, and after about two minutes she said “Don’t worry, Liam. It’ll be fine!”
Then we didn’t stop talking for an hour and a half. The great thing about being paired up with Greg is that we get along on so many levels – politically, philosophically, and more. There’s an awful lot of crossover.
And when he told me the story, I was excited. It’s nice when you go into a story and fundamentally care about it, as I do. Yes, it’s fantasy. Yes, it’s a comic book, but telling stories matters to us; it’s a reflection of ourselves. Inherently, we’re going to do a better job if we’re telling a story we care about and believe in ourselves.
Nrama: And for you, Nicola?
Nicola Scott: Ever since I’ve been on the more professional side of the business, every time I’m asked about what my dream project would be I’ve said: “Doing a Wonder Woman origin story with Greg Rucka.” But I’ve always presumed that would never happen. So to find ourselves in a position where it’s actually happening, it’s a bit overwhelming.
Greg and I have had conversations about this for years, and we have had several ideas. Now, the hard part is boiling it down to 20 pages per issue. You know, we have to make it real and not just this ephemeral group of ideas. In the process of that, it requires us to make some decisions on how things happen, what things happen, and how things are taken. It’s become, by necessity, an incredibly decisive process, and that in itself is quite tricky.
Greg and I are lucky we have so much history between us, because it means we have faith in each other to deliver on our intentions. But there’s a trickiness of finite decisions on all of ten years of talk.
Nrama: How are you approaching defining a young Diana Prince as opposed to the modern-day version?
Scott: We’re kind of using the best ideas of what has come before, certainly visually. We’re trying to use a lot of in-continuity history, but refocusing it for the story we’re trying to tell.
One of the initial ‘locked in’ decisions was how old she was, visually, in our first story. And she’ll look different than in Liam’s story, as that’s set ten years down the road. There, she’s been out in Man’s World for 10 years. Those ten years affect her in a way that the thousands of years leading up to this point hadn’t really. She’s been living a really sheltered life up until this point in our “Year One” story.
Nrama: Liam, what do you hope to evoke with readers in how you draw Wonder Woman?
Sharp: When I came onto this book, the thing that really surprised me was how much thrilling action there would be. Of every book I’ve ever drawn, Wonder Woman has the most to offer. Here’s so many angles to it. Whether it be the magical, the mythological, or even the modern aspects inherent to our story, there’s a lot there. And also the superhero aspect, but that’s quite a ways off.
Looking at previous work, I’m coming into this off of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s European, vaguely “real world” feel. It’s the real world rather than a stylized version of it, so I’ve been doing a lot of detail – and a lot of crosshatching. Its mid-Atlantic, European, more inspired by old school Barry Windsor-Smith. It’ll definitely feel like a “lived in,” believable world.
As Nicola said, our version of her in “The Lies” is ten years older than the one she and Greg are doing in “year One,” so she’s been touched by this world and its affected her. You’ll see it in her face and in her armor that she’s not as invulnerable as she might always seem to be. She has a humanity, and we imbue her with that.
We’ve also talked about her size. She’s 6’2” and strong. She’s going to be striking when she walks into the room. She’s big – not ‘model’ thin. She’s powerful, but not ripped like a bodybuilder.
She’s a powerful woman. ‘Woman’ became a big part of it; she’s Wonder Woman, not ‘Wonder Teenager.’
Nrama: I have to ask about the format of the book: two concurrent storylines, running in alternating issues, one drawn by Liam, one by Nicola. How did that idea come about, and how do you think it’ll affect readership of the book in serialized format?
Sharp: That’s Greg. [Laughs]
Rucka: My fault. [Laughs] If it fails dismally, everyone can point at me and laugh.
But it matters enormously to me that, given the nature of the schedule, that Liam and Nicola get the time needed to draw these stories.
In my initial conversations about doing Wonder Woman again for DC, I talked about how Liam needed to be given the time to “own” the book; you have to be able to grant that to your collaborators. One of the dangers of a pressing schedule is that it can potentially alienate an artist; as invested as they might wish to be, a harsh schedule could disallow them from doing that and force them to step away. I really wanted to prevent that, and not have Liam finding himself on a series of late nights working until 3am under looming deadlines.
And looking at the story we wanted to tell, this format was perfect. Do this “Year One” story, and let that run pretty much contemporaneously with “The Lies,” which is a “Year Ten” story. As soon as I had that, Nicola was our first call. Our creator-owned series Black Magick was in a place where she could step away from it long enough to do this.
These stories are very distinct from one another, but they are also intrinsically linked to one another. The cliffhanger at the end of Wonder Woman #1 isn’t answered in #2 however, so you’ll need to wait until #3 when Liam returns to see that story. But what happens in #1 and #2 feed into things and set up questions for later. There’s questions presented in Wonder Woman #1 that you won’t really see the full shape of the answer until you get to Wonder Woman #6, “Year One” part three. And I think that creates lovely dramatic tension.
I didn’t want Liam and Nicola to be off in separate corners not talking to each other and not having their stories affect one another. We’re all in this together.
This phone call with the three of us and you wasn’t a difficult one to arrange, except for schedule. We all get along, and we’re all in communication – and I think ‘communication’ is the key to getting the best out of comics collaboration. Creating something more than the sum of the parts.
Sharp: I have a panel of Nic’s art in Wonder Woman #1. I won’t say how or why, but it will all make sense, and I think there are a few moments like that.
Scott: I’m looking forward to the three of us doing panels at conventions. We’ve been talking to each other so much about the project by phone and online, but it would be very nice to get in the same room together with an audience.
Nrama: And have you three compared schedules for what convention that might be?
Rucka: Rose City, this September. We’ll all be in Portland.