web stats

CSBG Archive

The Greatest Greg Rucka Stories Ever Told!

Every day in November we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Greg Rucka Stories Ever Told!

Enjoy!

Sorry for the delay in getting this up!

10. Huntress: Cry for Blood #1-6

In this character-driven mini-series with strong art by Rich Burchett and Terry Beatty, Huntress finds herself exiled from Gotham City by Batman over her increasingly violent methods. She ends up training with Vic Sage, the Question, in an attempt to find some inner peace. However, at the same time, she is learning new secrets about her family. She thought her mobster father had gotten the rest of her family killed in a Mafia hit, but she soon discovers that there were secrets her mother was keeping from Helena that will haunt her to this day. At the end of the day, who is the Huntress? And can she ever find true peace? Rucka would later re-visit the Question in a big way in another DC series.

9. Whiteout #1-4

Rucka’s first major comic book work is one of the most awesome “high concept” comic book ideas ever. What happens when a murderer is on the loose in Antarctica? That is the situation U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko finds herself in in this taut, thrilling series with excellent artwork by the great Steve Lieber.

8. Tangled Web #4 “Severance Package”

In this acclaimed one-off issue of Tangled Web (the Spider-Man related anthology series that really pushed the boundaries in its early issues), Rucka and the brilliant Eduardo Risso show what happens to lietunents of the Kingpin when Spider-Man foils their plans. Chilling and heartfelt at the same time, this was a remarkably well-paced issue.

7. Queen and Country #1-4 “Operation: Broken Ground”

Here’s the most remarkable thing of the opening storyline in Greg Rucka’s excellent spy series, Queen and Country. He makes the back room negotiations of the higher-ups at the Ministry of Intelligence as thrilling as the on-the-scene action of the agents, including the star of the book, Tara Chace. However, at the same time, he also makes Tara’s job seem as tedious and glamorous as her compatriots back at the Ministry’s office. Steve Rolston is the perfect artist for a project like this, as he captures that sense of bleak resignation that so many of the characters embody in this series, as people are forced into extreme positions based on spur-of-the-moment decisions that lead to into frenetic negotiations and plans. It really is a thrilling comic book (Rolston, naturally, can also draw the heck out of some awesome action sequences).

6. Gotham Central #1-2 “In the Line of Duty”

Co-writers Rucka and Ed Brubaker team up with Michael Lark to introduce us to the reality of what it must be like to be a police detective (or a cop PERIOD) in a city filled with supervillains and, you know, a dude who dresses like a bat who can solve crimes better than all of them put together. It takes a certain kind of cop to be able to put up with that sort of a situation, and here we meet those cops, in this gripping crime series driven by a number of strong, original personalities.

5. 52

Co-written by Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns and Mark Waid, Rucka’s main contribution to this massive year-long weekly series was the introduction of the new Batwoman as well as her investigation into the mysterious evil organization that surrounds the mythical (or is it?) Crime Bible. Former GCPD detective Renee Montoya is also caught up in the investigation, and the other part of Rucka’s story shows Montoya’s road to redemption after the events that closed out Gotham Central. She meets with Vic Sage, the Question, who takes her on as his pupil and, perhaps, his successor. Many different artists drew the story.

4. Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia

Marked by beautiful artwork from JG Jones and Wade Von Grawbadger, the Hiketeia was Rucka’s first attempt at Wonder Woman (a year later he took over her ongoing series). In it, Wonder Woman takes part in an ancient Greek ritual known as the Hiketeia, where she is bound to protect a young woman. Well, as it turns out, the young woman is on the run from Gotham City where she had just murdered the drug dealers who had killer her sister. So now she has Batman on her tail. What will Wonder Woman do when Batman comes for the woman? That conflict is at the heart of this powerful graphic novel.

3. Gotham Central #12-15 “Soft Targets”

Rucka and Brubaker team-up on this harrowing tale of a dangerous sniper who turns out to be no less than the Joker himself! Rucka and Brubaker really play up the two main themes of Gotham Central in this storyline – how messed up it has to be to be a cop in a city that has, you know, the freaking JOKER committing crimes in it and how difficult it must be to know that Batman really is the only shot you have at stopping the psycho. To have to put that much faith in a vigilante is gut-wrenching for the proud cops of Gotham Central, but it is nothing compared to the pain Joker is prepared to put them through. Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano do the artwork.

2. Gotham Central #6-10 “Half a Life”

Rucka flies solo on this award-winning story arc that deals with Renee Montoya being outed as a lesbian against her will. When the person who forcibly outed her is found dead, shot by her backup gun, well, things don’t look good. Things look even worse when Two-Face (who had been obsessed with Renee for some time now – luckily, the trade paperback for Half a Life contains the earlier stories that Rucka did with Two-Face and Renee) gets involved. Seeing Renee’s torment as she deals with her fellow police officers and the news of her sexuality is truly striking. Michael Lark does a great job on the art.

1. Detective Comics #854-860 “Elegy”/”Go”

This is a bit of a cheat that I did just to get one more story on to the top 10. Otherwise, “Go” would have been #6 or #7. As someone in the ballots pointed out, the trade paperback for Elegy contains both “Elegy” AND “Go,” so I’m counting them as one story for the sake of argument.

Anyhow, as Batwoman takes over Detective Comics for a time, Rucka is joined by the simply unbelievably amazing J.H. Williams on artwork. Williams’ art for this series is nearly too good to be true. Luckily, Rucka gives him a compelling story based on a fascinating lead character, Kate Kane, who is dealing with some of the fallout from the Crime Bible stuff from 52 as a mysterious villainess named Alice shows up – but what connection does Kate have to this “Alice”? Rucka follows up the thrilling “Elegy” with a three-parter examining Kate’s path to becoming Batwoman, from her tragic childhood to her days in the military (and her expulsion under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and her early days as a vigilante (all with help from her father, a military man himself). This is a characterization heavy series with some of the best artwork in comics today, so it is well worth its place at the top of this list (note that “Elegy” would have been #1 even without “Go” votes added on to it – another reason I decided to add them together).

That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

27 Comments

Wow, surprised that Queen and Country didn’t get more love. But then, that’s probably my indie comic disconnect for you.

Let’s not forget that movie WHITEOUT starring the unforgetable Kate Beckinsale (sigh) which is also based on the same mini-series.

Just picked up Gotham Central 1-20 or so…making my way through them now. Great stuff.

HOLD ON??? The Trade of Elegy has the “Go” issues in? But the Hardback I got didn’t!
GRRRRRRR!!! Not fair!

rucka’s work on tara chace for the “queen & country” property is nothing short of phenomenal. love the novels, but have yet to read the original comic book series. must pick it up!

Christian, sounds like you got a misprinted trade. There should be the issues of Go in every Elegy hardback, since I looked at a bunch of them before I ended up buying the tpb when it was released.

I’m surprised that Batwoman takes the top spot, personally – I thought a lot of Rucka’s Checkmate work and Gotham Central was a lot stronger, personally. He did a great job turning Kate into a viable concept and character beyond ‘LIPSTICK LESBIAN’, which was about all you could tack onto her by 52’s end, but even so..

Have to say I am a little shocked that there aren’t more entries for Queen & Country on the list or even Rucka and Robertson’s relaunch of Wolverine for Marvel.

As far as his Wonder Woman work is concerned, the “STONED” arc is a far better example of Greg’s brilliant writing than HIKETEIA

I’m a bit surprised there isn’t more Queen and Country. Oh well, I guess I should have voted!

Half a Life is terrible and the first Batwoman arc is the most overrated thing I’ve read in probably ten years. The rest are solid choices. I love Queen and Country!

thought some of the spots would be some queen and country. though nice to see his work turning renee into the new question made a few spots plus wonder woman the hykteria

These all sound outstanding. I was surprised his Wolverine didn’t make the list (with Marvel’s silly renumbering system, that was one time that I thought it actually warranted a new number 1–it was a dynamic and drastically different take on the book), but that just means I need to dive into everything you’ve listed here.

While the first arc of Queen & Country didn’t sell me on the series (I think vol. 5 is where the book really began to click for me), the story of Tara Chase is one of my favourite in serial comics. I’ve even read the associated novels and look forward to seeing how Rucka wraps up the character.

Batwoman “Elegy,” however, was just not something I would have ever wanted to read. I wished I had known that before reading it. I could see it placing in a list of J.H. Williams books, but as far as Rucka goes, the writing struck me as pretty poor stuff. The entire book hinges on two major contrivances. One is plot-related so I won’t spoil it, but the other is that Alice speaks entirely in quotations from Through the Looking Glass. These two things put together took me right out of the book. I thought Rucka/Williams did really well with the flashback scene revolving around Kate’s dismissal from service, but that small scene against the backdrop of the whole Alice thing wasn’t enough to salvage the book for me.

Before I opened this list I said to myself, “Please let Elegy be first…”

Now I am happy.

HIKETEIA really? I found that contrived at best. Plot device 101 to sell a WW story with some Batman in it :)

These are my picks:

1. Gotham Central #6-10 (“Half a Life”)
2. Gotham Central #17-18 (“Life is Full of Disappointments”)
3. Gotham Central #12-15 (“Soft Targets”)
4. Gotham Central #1-2 (“In the Line of Duty”)
5. Wolverine Vol. 3 #7-11 (“Coyote Crossing”)
6. Detective Comics #854-857 (“Elegy”)
7. Wolverine Vol. 3 #6 (“So, This Priest Goes Into a Bar”)
8. 52 #1-52
9. Wolverine Vol. 3 #1-5 (“Brotherhood”)
10. “No Man’s Land: Mosaic” (Batman #565, Detective Comics #732)

Never read Rucka’s WW, not Q&C. “Mosaic” is the only NML story I’ve read. I only started reading Gotham Central with the recent trades, and I’m completely in love, as you can see.

No mention of his Sam & Twitch, which is kind of a shame. Also, his work on “Batman: No Mans Land” was the best of the bunch. (Especially the novel, which I know doesn’t count, but it was good.)

Man, kind of shocked that Rucka’s WW: Eyes of the Gorgon arc and his Stumptown series are both missing here…but that is what I get for not voting.

I was pretty disappointed with Rucka’s writing in Batwoman. I would have liked to have seen Stumptown on here.

stealthwise, thank you. i picked up the BW trade on the strength of my experience with writer and artist AND particularly the web-love that it had been getting.

overrated indeed! i found the story basic fare. not horrid, but nothing special. the art? while it is absolutely gorgeous (well, i could do without the insane nipple-fetish, actually), i found it – from a sequential art perspective – horrid. it sacrificed storytelling for shock-and-awe. beautiful and non-functional.

dw

I would have thought more Wonder Woman would be here but I guess The Hiketeia will suffice. Like Kelly I’m surprised at no Stumptown. And also that none of his No Man’s Land (particularly his work with Helena) is here. And maybe Adventure Comics #631 which was on the list of the greatest Lois Lane stories. This is a fun series Brian, thanks for doing it.

I think the “problem” is that Rucka has had so many great runs, ya know? A bunch of really good stuff is going to be missing. Hey, Sue, did you notice the Greatest Lois Lane Stories list? That Adventures of Superman story did show up there, at least!

Thanks for including the spiderman;tangled web issue. Its a really good issue that gives a inside look into what working for the kingpin is all about.

Gah, his parts of 52 (the Question mess had his fingerprints all over it) were among the worst parts of an otherwise great series.

Rucka is one of those guys who is fantastic when he’s writing a certain kind of story but it falls apart when he leaves that comfort zone. Plus he’s a better novelist than a comic writer so a “best of” list consisting of only comics just falls flat.

I loved the Queen and Country comics. I have all the Definitive trades. I also have all the novels. The novels are much better.

I thought Huntress: Cry for Blood was one of his weakest works.

The big omissions here for me are The OMAC Project (though that loses points for having part of the story take place in the Superman books – and for those not being in the OMAC Project TPB) and Checkmate.

I can’t disagree with the large amount of Gotham Central though.

Big fan of Rucka – I liked them, but the Batwoman stories shouldn’t be #1.

His Gotham Central and Batman work from the early 00’s was amazing. I also loved his Huntress mini and thought that should be higher on the list (although I’m pretty pissed he didn’t do a follow up Huntress series – and instead opted for Question and Batwoman).

I’m surprised to see so much “Batwoman” backlash in the comments, but I guess if we all agreed this wouldn’t be any fun, would it? I thought Batwoman’s “Detective” issues were probably the best ongoing mainstream series of last year.

Then again, a lot of its detractors are using the term “overrated”, so maybe I benefited from a lack of outside influence. I was told to pick up the first issue by a friend, and then got to experience and discover it month-to-month. Who knows? Maybe if I had waited for the trade, after everyone went on about how great it was, I wouldn’t have been so impressed. I don’t think so, but that’s certainly possible.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives