Convergence is a little more than a month away and week one has the return of writer Greg Rucka, delivering another story of Renee Montoya as The Question. Along with Rucka is artist Cully Hamner, as the creative team has The Question looking out for Two-Face. Both Rucka and Hamner answered some questions about THE QUESTION.
COMIC VINE: How does it feel to be writing The Question again?
GREG RUCKA: Like wearing comfortable shoes. Seriously. It’s frightening how effortlessly I can get back into her head and her voice. It’s like reuniting with an old, dear friend.
CV: What is it about Renee Montoya as The Question that you find appealing?
GR: I love the evolution of the characters — both Renee and the Question. Never mind that the aesthetic is awesome, I really love the growth from a Randian hero to a Zen investigator to a queer detective. I think there’s something beautiful in that legacy, in what it says about how our world has changed and grown. But talking about Renee specifically, I love her growth as a woman, as a character. So many characters change-but-never-change — instead, we have the illusion of change. But in so many ways, Batman is always going to be Batman, barring a seismic shift in storytelling. There may be new interpretations, and always new stories, but in many, many ways, Batman is static.
But Renee? Renee is alive. She has changed, will continue to change. She’s grown, and not simply from a “retcon” or “reboot” standpoint, but in a very organic, story and — more crucially to me — character-driven fashion. You can’t say that about many characters in the mainstream. But with Renee? There’s been no “reset” button, at least, not yet.
CV: What can you tell us about your issue of THE QUESTION?
GR: There are two, first of all. They’re set in pre-New 52 Gotham, a couple months after the last story Cully and I did together, specifically. Gotham isn’t what it was or where it was, and Renee has been trying to survive — and help — in a decaying environment while dealing with at least one personal crisis. She’s rooming with Helena, she’s roaming the streets trying to keep the peace in a Gotham that is teetering on the edge of social implosion and chaos… and she’s looking out for Two-Face, who’s finding himself (himselves?) in a bad way these days.
But that’s kinda set up. What’s it about? It’s about friendships. The ones we understand, the ones we don’t — people we will do anything and everything for because we love them, and people we find ourselves wanting to do right by for reasons we can never truly comprehend.
CV: What is it like working with some of the pre-flashpoint characters again?
GR: I never actually worked in post-Flashpoint DC, so it’s not really a stretch for me, I guess. These are the characters as I’ve always known them, as they were when I stepped away from DC in 2009. So it’s very much like coming home, honestly — like coming home and finding these people I love waiting to welcome me, all drawn by Cully, so they’re looking better than ever.
CV: What excited you most about coming onto this book?
CULLY HAMNER: Well, the most obvious thing to me is getting to have a reunion with my friend. Greg and I really didn’t know each prior to our work together on Renee. Obviously I knew his work very well, and I had worked with the writer Jen Van Meter on another project and she happens to be married to the guy. But never Greg himself. Once we got paired up, though, we really hit it off, and we’ve been pals ever since, and we have genuinely missed being able to riff together like we used to. And Renee is like Greg’s comic book spirit animal, so to miss him is to miss her!
But also, I’ve always had a feeling that we stopped too soon on that run, that we should have done just a little more. Renee is such a great character with great relationships, and Greg and I really were vibing off each other so well. So when Dan DiDio presented us with this opportunity for sort of a coda to what we did on PIPELINE, I was like, “If Greg’s in, I’m in.”
CV: Were there any challenges in jumping into this different time period and setting?
CH: The time period, not particularly. I mean, PIPELINE was, what… five years ago? Six? Not that long ago, so things haven’t changed all that much. It’s a contemporary look. The setting on our original run was all over the place—it was almost like a travelogue, so there’s not much to really recreate there. That’s actually a big difference here—she’s stuck in Gotham.
CV: What kind of vibe did you set out to create with the art?
CH: Greg was very specific in that he felt that this Gotham is isolated, and would begin to deteriorate, physically and spiritually. So the city is starting to crumble. There are no real services. People aren’t bathing or getting haircuts. Everyone is on edge and paranoid. That’s the vibe. My thing is that—for whatever reason— it’s stuffy in Gotham. I feel like the dome is also trapping heat inside, so from a visual standpoint, everyone is a little droopy and slippery and stressed. A lot people are breathing through their mouths and looking down.
Renee, in particular, is in a harsh place, emotionally. So her look is even leaner than it was before. She’s thinner, more angular—she’s definitely lost weight. Her hair is shorter. But she’s still Renee.
Helena has a slightly-tweaked costume. It’s basically like the one I had her in in PIPELINE, but that was sort of designed on the fly, and I was never quite satisfied with it. So I took the opportunity here to streamline it a little.
Thanks to Rucka and Hamner for answering our questions and CONVERGENCE: THE QUESTION hits stores on April 8th, 2015.