What’s a Crisis in the DC Universe without the Spectre playing a role?
And hey – didn’t DC say that there were gong to be two miniseries starting up in August (with the first one being Legion of 3 Worlds)?
Two questions, one answer: Final Crisis: Revelation by Greg Rucka and the recently exclusive Philip Tan. Five issues, 30 pages each.
Oh, and the Spectre’s not alone. And he’s going to be swinging his focus a little. WE caught up with Rucka for more about the minseries.
Newsarama: Just so we’re all on the same page here Greg, this is the other one of the two miniseries projects that tie in to Final Crisis, with the other being Legion of 3 Worlds, correct?
Greg Rucka: Right. And there won’t be many other tie-in projects announced. DC is looking to keep things very tight within Final Crisis – a limited exposure. So rather than creating that rampaging monster of “Here, buy 500 books and understand the story,” if you read Final Crisis you’ll get Final Crisis and then there will be a couple of ancillary things around it, and one of them is this miniseries.
NRAMA: So how did it all come to pass?
GR: I think anyone can really do the math…Dan [DiDio], Grant [Morrison] and Geoff [Johns]…
NRAMA: John, Paul and Ringo…
GR: [laughs] I think I’m Ringo, though. That was pretty much it. Grant has pretty much been captaining the ship for Final Crisis, and there have been some discussions with Dan about what to do with it, and they then put it in front of me. The initial, in-house idea was termed “Street Crisis!” and basically show the events of Final Crisis on the ground level. That pretty rapidly changed because I came back and said that was an issue, not a miniseries. That’s 30 pages of really nice art, showing a whole bunch of vignettes, and we don’t want that anyway.
So we went round and round, and realized that there was some stuff that comes into play in Final Crisis that sets up a really good springboard. I’d been doing some other stuff that I can’t talk about yet, and that all sort of fed into it. So we’ve got Geoff doing his thing with Legion of 3 Worlds, and Revelation is set in the midst of Final Crisis. An element of what happens in Revelation will feed off of and back into events in Final Crisis.
Of the two then, Revelation is a little more tied to the immediate continuity, but it’s not contingent upon it. And if the title isn’t enough to tell you, the miniseries focuses primarily on The Spectre.
NRAMA: So what sets it all up?
GR: There’s an event in the first issue of Final Crisis that triggers the Spectre story. One of the things we’re looking at the mini to do is to take the Crispus Allen Spectre and really deal with those things that have yet to be dealt with for him. Like the fact that he’s dead, for one. As well as the fact that he used to be a detective, and now he’s God’s bouncer. He ain’t at peace with it all. That’s the thematic and character journey of it.
The more immediate and wild action part is more along the lines that if you have a spirit of vengeance, you’re missing something in the DC Universe. You have this spirit of vengeance, but I’ve yet to see the spirit of mercy. That’s a lot of what’s going on here. You’ve got some people that don’t hold any truck with mercy, and you’ve got a guy whose mission is basically to delivery vengeance. Oh, and he hates his job, and is kind of out of control. And it rolls from there.
NRAMA: You bring up a good point – for the Spectre to be a “good” Spectre, the human host has to reach some kind of understanding, some kind of acceptance about what the Spectre does, but Cris isn’t there yet…
GR: Cris absolutely isn’t there. What was the first thing that God made him do when he gave him the gig? Kill his son. I know that I wouldn’t be too happy with that. I’d be shaking my fist at the heavens.
But that said, the Spectre is theoretically the most powerful character in the DC Universe. In theory he can look at you and go Boom “You’re a soap bubble.” And you are. And then you pop, and that’s it for eternity. Show’s over. That’s the Spectre. But that is not Cris.
His resentment of this position he’s been put in, that is, “Punish the wicked, but only certain wicked people, and only when I tell you to. You may see all these horrible things around you, but you can only go after that guy.” And Cris is left saying, “What the hell?” So there are certain things that we’re dealing with here.
NRAMA: What else will you be playing with in the story?
GR: You rarely see the Spectre go after someone in the universe who wears a costume and is really villainous. We rarely ever see the giant pinking shears coming after someone who wears a cape and calls himself “Captain Corruption.” But the Spectre seems quite willing to go after the evil toymaker by putting him in a mechanical card and then eating him.
I’m all for dramatic irony, but one of my first questions in this was, “Okay – which of the villains can we kill?” And they gave me a list.
NRAMA: So the thing that happens in Final Crisis requires the Spectre to change his focus and look at the bad guys?
GR: Yeah – something happens in Final Crisis that sets him off on the traditional Spectre journey which is, “Horrible thing has happened, I will go punish the wicked,” and then he finds himself in a position where he is literally unable to do it. And if he is powered by God, and he is unable to do it, there has to be a reason for it. That starts the whole internal crisis for him along the lines of “Oh what the hell? I can kill my son, but I can’t kill this guy? This is screwed up.”
And then at the end of the first issue, he gets pointed toward someone else who mattered a great deal in his “life” before this, and is told to go and kill that person.
NRAMA: Would this someone from his past be someone who's also had some changes since her days on the GCPD, namely, Renee Montoya?
GR: See, I don't know if I should be coy here or not, but yeah, in the interests of full disclosure, Cris encounters Renee. Or, to put it in a more dramatic, comic-friendly fashion -- the Spectre meets the Question. We're kinda seeking to redefine "odd-couple" here, I suppose -- the theoretically most-powerful entity in all of the DCU encounters the, arguably, most street-level hero.
I'm into juxtaposition, what can I say?
They haven't really, y'know, kept in touch. In fact, as far as the Question knows, her former partner died and that was pretty much it. Cris didn't really send out change of address cards when he got his new gig.
NRAMA: Just looking at the surface of their relationship though, given what happened in Crime Bible, how does Cris view Renee?
GR: Oh, c'mon, man, that would be telling. When we last left Question, she'd been made -- "manipulated into becoming," might be a better way to put it -- the head of the Order of the Stone, the religion of crime's order of "monks." Given that the order constantly seeks to redefine their depravity and evil, and given that the Spectre's main purpose is to bring vengeance to the wicked...I think you can see there's probably going to be some tension, there.
Like I said, mercy isn't a trait Spectre is known for.
NRAMA: Let’s talk about the art by Philip for the miniseries…
GR: Oh my God. Really – oh my God. You won’t believe how good this looks. You really will not believe how incredible this looks. There is a sequence at the opening – page one where it’s quiet, and on page two, the Spectre is exacting bloody vengeance – on an established villain – and does so in traditional Spectre fashion. And let me tell you – you don’t ant to go out like that. And it looks just phenomenal. I haven’t been this excited about art in a while. Philip’s a great collaborator – he’s so enthusiastic and so excited. We go back and forth on the script, and every suggestion is one that just augments and improves it. He really is, I think, phenomenally talented.
NRAMA: As we wrap it up…any names that you can drop of villains that may show up?
GR: …. No, I really can’t, sorry. Let’s just say that in the sense that Final Crisis is the extension of a journey that began at DC a good five years ago now, there are things that happened five or six years ago that still have reverberations. And there are codas given to them here.
NRAMA: An in comic book lingo, “coda” equals “payback”?
GR: Let’s just say that vengeance, if not justice, is served.