Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
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!
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.
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!
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