Ruse was a standout title of the original CrossGen line. While most of the publisher’s comics were sci-fi or fantasy, Ruse was Victorian-era detective fiction, starring witty sleuths Simon Archard and Emma Bishop.
Running for 26 issues — with the first 12 written by Mark Waid — from 2001 to 2003, the series ended as a part of CrossGen’s bankruptcy. But, following Disney’s purchase of the properties in 2004 and Disney’s purchase of Marvel in 2009, CrossGen is back, now as an imprint of Marvel Comics.
Along with Sigil, Ruse is one of the first two series to be revived by Marvel, initially as a four-issue miniseries but with the door open for more in the future if the demand is there. Waid’s returning to the series, this time joined by artist Mirco Pierfederici. Original Ruse artist Butch Guice provides covers.
With a first issue in stores this week, Newsarama chatted with Waid over e-mail about returning to the series after such a long layoff, what to expect from the new Ruse, and what other series he’d like to return to if given the chance.
Newsarama: Mark, it's been what — something like eight-and-a-half years? — since you last wrote Ruse. Obviously you've kept more than busy in the interim, but is Ruse a series you had definitely wanted to revisit? (Even if it didn't really seem possible until recently.)
Mark Waid: Actually, it's been ten years! Honestly, it never even occurred to me that it'd be possible until Marvel Senior Editor Steve Wacker floated the possibility last summer. But it didn't take me long to bite.
Nrama: A huge part of the appeal of Ruse is the two main characters, Simon Archard and Emma Bishop. Since it has been so long, was it difficult at all to find their voices again after several years?
Waid: I was terrified this would be a problem, but it's not. I was stunned at how familiar these voices were to me after all this time. It helps that I kept all my Victorian language and slang reference (read: Firefox bookmarks) — sometimes I have to write their dialogue in modern voice, then go back and antique it up a bit, but otherwise, they speak to me like old friends.
Nrama: On a similar note, when writing the new series, is there any incorporation at all of character or story beats you wanted to hit the first time around but didn't get a chance to, or is it all ideas formed since coming on board this specific project?
Waid: Oh, how I wish there were leftover plot ideas to cull from, but it's all from scratch!
Nrama: This is very different than the other CrossGen revival title, Sigil, since that book is pretty much a complete reimagination of the concept, while this retains the same main characters and premise. I know it's not a direct continuation of where things left off and the obligatory elements incorporated in the original series (like Emma being a Sigil-bearer and taking place on "Arcadia") are abandoned — so should this officially be considered a reboot?
Waid: Hrrrm. By the strictest definition, I suppose… but only in the most superficial ways, enough to make it abundantly clear to new readers that they should in no way feel "out of the loop." I promise if you're new to the book, you're coming in on a level playing field with returning fans, and there's no homework involved. On the other hand, it's fun salting in references to events familiar from the previous series so long as they don't confuse new readers--nods to old cases and existing allies and villains. We've gone out of our way to cater to both audiences.
Nrama: You've disclosed that the plot for this series involves a mysterious "gambling epidemic," which certainly sounds like a unique conflict — where did the inspiration for that come from?
Waid: Writer Tom Peyer suggested it. We were talking one day about the recreational activities of the time, and he'd just read some web piece about how much wagering and gambling there was in Victorian England as a diversion that could cut across all class lines. So in our story, Simon and Emma begin with an investigation focused on the sorts of low-rent games have taken over "poverty row," and through the course of the story, they walk upward through the slightly more refined (and far more stakes-heavy) games of the upper crust.
Nrama: With the first issue almost in stores, how has it been working with Mirco Pierfederici, in your first collaboration with him?
Waid: It's great. He's got the look down solid. And he's not afraid to draw horses and Hansom cabs! That's a huge plus right there!
Nrama: Thinking about you revisiting Ruse reminded me of how you finished Empire at DC a few years after its original run, even if that was a direct continuation whereas this is not. Is there anything else you've worked on in the past that you'd like to get another shot at?
Waid: Yeah. Gatecrasher, the Black Bull series I did with Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti. I long to do that book again and work with those two. Plus, if anyone at Disney-Marvel-Pixar is listening, I still have one great Incredibles story filed away....