December 13, 2017

 




Interview:
Greg Rucka

By Michael Sullivan



 

It's been announced that you're leaving DETECTIVE COMICS at #775. Why?

It'll have been about three years by the time I'm done and I think that it's better to go with stuff in your pocket than to go too long and being asked to leave politely. I'd rather go out with some stories left and, God willing relationships stay good and....I don't know where I'm going to be in five years but it would be nice to be able to say I have more Batman and maybe come back to the book later. I think I've done a good turn on it and overstaying my welcome is a real fear. I've been lucky, I think a lot more people have liked what I've done on DETECTIVE than haven't and I would like to leave while that is still the case.

The Bat-crossover events seem to be largely well received. How much of the architecture of those has been attributable to you?

"Officer Down" came up at a Bat-summit that was held at Denny O'Neil's house in Nyack. I don't actually remember who came up with the idea of shooting Gordon first. We sit around and do that, you know, "Who can we shoot this year?" That sort of spun out from there. I think it was primarily Devin [Grayson] and myself who sat down and hammered out the initial stuff, then Ed [Brubaker] came in and did a great big polish on the overall mystery. A lot of these things come up in committee. I really wanted to treat Gordon well, and I felt that we had started stuff at the end of "No Man's Land" which we had to follow up on and which we are now finally seeing in the ultimate last stages of the whole "Bruce Wayne: Murderer" and "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" stuff. It's a huge overall arc that really does start with "No Man's Land."

With what's going on with the characters, fans have remarked on it that Batman seems to cyclically push people away, then he brings them back and pushes them out further. One of the things we wanted to address is the fact that you can only do that so many times before people are gone and that's a bad place for Bruce to be.

And on the current Bruce Wayne event?

The plotting was mostly myself and Matt Idelson. We spent oh-so-much time on the phone working this thing out. In part, breaking down the procedure of the murder in the first books in January and February and the discussion of Vesper's body on out. We had to break that really tightly on the who and what and how and why.

The idea, that again came out of a summit that year, was we knew what we wanted to do with Bruce in this overall arc and there was this last stand we needed to take him through and that led to....under what circumstances would Bruce give up being Bruce Wayne.

Well, if Batman felt that he could not do what he needed to do and if he felt that Bruce was now so much of a liability and so much baggage that he got in the way of what he needed to do, those would be the right circumstances. So then it became "who are we going to kill?" again.

There were long discussions. We've got a bad habit in the bat-group of killing white women, which is not to say it would be better if we were killing African-American women. We do seem to go after the Caucasian women pretty viciously, starting with Barbara Gordon getting paralyzed by the Joker and then moving on down the line. We also wanted to reference the fact that "God forbid you have an emotional attachment with Bruce Wayne" and "God forbid you have a relationship with him" because that's the kiss of death in the batbooks. We decided that that in and of itself is a good idea for a batstory.

It had become a cliché. We look at that and "Oh, she's dead," and we move on. Instead we make that into the story. What is the effect on Bruce? There is this woman that, regardless of all of her faults and foibles, there is apparently a legitimate emotional attraction to her. What happens when she dies and the question of whether or not he actually killed her?

What's more important to him his happiness or Batman? Everybody knows the answer to that. The answer to that is Batman. You can not take that away from him. That's a different story. No one has done that one yet, at least as far as I know. That would be another story. That he cannot be Batman anymore, and not because he's broken his back...

Is there anything you weren't allowed to do with Batman that you wanted to?

There were a couple of ideas. The "Turning Points" event was actually like the sixth idea, and we busted our backs on that idea. Devin and I came up with like three different ideas. We kept submitting them and they would go up the pipe and if it got past Denny or [Bat-group editor Bob] Schreck later, and it got past [Executive Editor Mike] Carlin it would get shot down by [President Paul] Levitz. There are certain things that they just wouldn't let us do.

I always wanted to chase down the fact that Bruce Wayne's playboy image is really vulnerable. For instance, you could have someone show up and say this kid is his and he can't say no. You need to have the whole paternity test and, if you're really on your game, you can really screw him over. Bruce never sleeps with any of these women that he flounces about with... The idea being if he goes out with six beautiful women and every time he goes out with them he shows them a wonderful time or a horrible time, but regardless, at the end of the night he leaves them at their home with a kiss and a "good night" and he never goes inside with them. Then, the Gotham socialites that are interacting with him...are they really going to say "No, I didn't sleep with him?" The second one of them says "Yes, we had a wonderful night," the other five of them are going to say "Well, what's wrong with ME?" The whole lie there is built on a social peer pressure and you could capitalize on that for hours and one of the things that Devin and I had proposed was...there's his kid.

We wanted to do another one along the same lines. It would have been the realization of five or six of these women that, "Hey, you know what? Bruce does this to all of us!" and then they all, collectively realizing why he does it, assume he must be gay. But, how do you use that? These are mostly character ideas.

There are certain things they just don't let you go near. They are really really leery about any...because of the whole pop-culture-Batman-and-Robin relationship (implications of a homosexual relationship, notably suggested by Frederic Wertham in SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT), DC, and I think it's less DC than AOL-Time-Warner actually, is, "No. You don't even talk about it."

There was a line in the "No Man's Land" novel that I wrote where Nightwing enters the story and [Barbara] is trying to describe the relationship between Bruce and Dick. And these sections of the novel are written as though she's trying to explain it to her father, and there was a discussion saying they "are like father-and-son, they are the best-of-friends, and sometimes, I swear to god, they are like an old married couple." Because of the way they argue with each other. Editorial came back and said "You cannot use that line."

I said, "For God's sake, that does not imply a homosexual relationship."

They said "That doesn't matter."


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