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A Digression: Or, “Oh Dear Lord”

There are things that I absolutely LOVE about working in comics. Really. Honestly. Despite what must seem like my perpetual bitching, there really, really are.

This is not one of them.

The problem, you see, in working at DC or Marvel or anyplace where you are, essentially, work-for-hire, is that try though you might, you have little to no creative control over how the characters you’re working on 1) appear, and 2) are drawn.

The mere fact that Renee was included in Countdown annoys me, frankly, but that’s nobody’s fault, really. DC’s character, they want to give her play, sure. What annoys me more is that nobody bothered to either talk to me about the Grand Plan for the character (and there is one) or the redesign that would naturally occur after her last appearance in 52.

For those of you who want to see what The Question looks like these days, check out The Crime Bible: The Five Books of Blood. For those of you who have little faith and want Charlie back, check it out anyway, and then either your worst fears will be confirmed, or you’ll find yourself maybe being willing to let go of the past and give us a chance.

But this, man…I recognize it’s a hard sell for some folks. And stuff like this – done with the best of intentions, mind – doesn’t help the cause, so to speak. First appearance after the end of 52, this is what we get.

30 Responses to A Digression: Or, “Oh Dear Lord”

  1. morchades

    No hat? But how is she the Question without the cool hat? Why did they take away the hat?!

  2. wonsaponatime

    I’m more disturbed by the creepy, weird, very non-Question mask than the lack of hat. I’m behind on my Countdown (a fact that doesn’t really bother me) so without context I have no idea what the appearance was like, but the visual definitely isn’t good.

    Looking forward to where you take Montoya, Greg.

  3. sinspired

    Since when did the mask cover her hair!!!

    Greg, please let us know of all of the Rucka-Approved appearances.

    This was my favorite re-casting of a classic character ever and I was horrified to see what they did with her in countdown. :(

  4. jjgalahad

    Good god, that’s ugly. I think the most appropriate interweb phrase is “DO NOT WANT”.

  5. hanabishirecca

    My wife was particularly happy with Renee’s treatment in 52. We are very much looking forward to the Crime Bible.

  6. uzumerid

    This is disappointing

    This is really sad to hear — I was certainly surprised by the appearance of what looked like Misfit switching Batgirl worship to Renee worship and wearing what looks like a not-fully-manufactured Jason X mask, but that actually being Renee I guess makes sense?

    What I’m commenting to ask about, actually (longtime reader first time responder bla bla bla met you at the paradise comicon a year ago and you were the best part of the show bla bla bla) is your comment about there being a Grand Plan and a redesign.

    Did you mean that DC commissioned a grand plan and redesign for the character that they just didn’t let you in on at all? Because that’s borderline malicious, while simply not asking about your plans is just garden variety lazy and less dangerous.

  7. uzumerid

    Re: This is disappointing

    Also, keep in mind they can’t even get costumes right *from issue to issue* — look at Piper and Trickster — never mind between different books from different editorial groups!

  8. davesbu

    Christ…she looks like a jewelry store thief wearing a stocking mask! That’s just wretched irresponsible.

  9. shanejayell

    I am deliberately ignoring Countdown, so I’ve been spared the horror.

  10. admin

    She has the hat.

  11. admin

    Re: This is disappointing

    Oh, no, and I don’t want to mislead anyone with regards to that. Simply that, post-52, the character had reached a certain point, and that there was an intent that the next time she be seen, she be see in a fashion and in a story that continued to support the evolution of The Question. And, to be perfectly fair, I suppose saying Grand Plan is a bass-ackwards way of saying “my plan,” though I certainly had been clear with various editors as to how and where and when we should next see her.

    There’s no malice involved here on anyone’s part, believe me. It’s a big company putting out a lot of books every month, and Countdown is a monster that has to run on a schedule on top of that. The guys working on the book are killing themselves, and I know that from first-hand experience.

    I do not mean to point fingers, and I tried very hard to make that clear in the post. This isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s just a frustration on my part, and one I felt was fair to share here.

  12. editor_lass

    Wretched. A fan’s pain is less profound than the creator’s, I imagine, but even so…. I learned a long time ago to divide appearances of my favorite characters into “counts” and “doesn’t count.” Like how Batgirl hasn’t appeared since the end of her series, or how Tempest hasn’t really been around since Phil Jimenez’s miniseries. Comics are much better this way. And besides, Countdown as a whole is…so much *less* than 52 that it’s not worth my angsting over. A file-and-forget read. But it doesn’t help the character-boost cause, no.

    I’m about to dive into a reread of all the Atticus books in preparation for Patriot Acts–and Stumpdown, if my suspicion about the main character proves correct. ;) Looking forward to it!

  13. uzumerid

    Re: This is disappointing

    Ah, OK, then I apologize for my initially vehement/vitriolic reaction as long as there’s no danger of long-term harm occurring to the character, or of any of your plans being scuttled so that I can open Countdown #25 to see Montoya giving Mary Marvel the shocker or something.

    Can’t wait for Crime Bible.

  14. lithera

    I’m looking forward to Crime Bible. I loved Charlie (in large part to my devotion to Shiva and they have such a lovely past) and out of all of the changes that happened in 52 the switch from him to Montoya was the one I enjoyed the most.

    As for Countdown, I’ve noticed that I can only read it in chunks. If I try on issue at a time it feels like I’m not getting enough in each one, so reading it in groups of four or more seems to help that a little. I think that might just be an issue with large plots that come in weekly segments, though – just the way information has to be parted out over the whole thing.

  15. electricvinyl

    I think disappointment is putting it mildly. That mask looks more like the Red Hood than The Question.

    That said, I’m looking forward to Crime Bible. =)

  16. kali921

    Frankly, Renee’s entire metamorphosis into the Question in 52 was a total turnoff to me; I just personally couldn’t become emotionally engaged in the story, and I found it boring. I don’t see the need to kill off a wonderful character just so another can assume his/her costumed identity. I was hoping that Renee could emerge into her own as herself, but what’s done is done, and I’ll certainly give it a shot. I know in some quarters the move was perceived as a bit of tokenism (“ZOMG, the new Question is a lesbian Latina, aren’t we DIVERSE, we’re doing SUCH a good job on the diversity front, let’s all go self-congratulatory!”) on DC’s part, although I’m not sure that’s true.

    Countdown is boring, so I pay no attention to it, except for a cursory leaf through various issues at my LCS, and Renee’s hackneyed tough talk thus far leaves me cold.

  17. admin

    You’re ascribing a motive that isn’t necessarily true, but that’s besides the point, I suppose. I hope you pick up the Crime Bible mini, anyway. I think it’s some good stuff, at least thus far, and it’s not your average comic-slash-superhero fare.

  18. raimisj

    Renee is one of my favorite DC characters – I picked up Half A Life because as a gay, female Mexican-American reader (no kidding! we exist), I was interested to see how a storyline focusing on a gay latina character would be dealt with. I ended up enjoying Half A Life, but 52 was when I really got on board the Montoya train.

    At Wizard World Philly, Jim Califiore told me that Montoya would be featured in Countdown, and I thought, “Cool!”. It never ocurred to me that the team would write her into the story without consulting you first, Greg. I assumed it would be at least an informal policy to talk to the creator of a recently revamped character before including her in another book. Sad to hear that’s not the case.

    Anyway, maybe this will cheer you up – The Top Six Renee Montoya Sass Panels.
    http://geekanerd.blogspot.com/2007/07/top-five-renee-montoya-sass-panels.html

  19. oilyrags

    Maggie Chascarillo is the new Question!??!??

    (/asshat)

  20. kali921

    Are you kidding? You’re writing it, of course I’ll try it!

    I guess I wasn’t clear enough; any speculated motivations I referred to above were simply things that I saw vocalized in various quarters in fandom as possible reasons for Renee’s metamorphosis, and so I certainly concede that those delineated reasons could be wildly off base. I’m merely conveying perceptions I saw articulated, not hard, cold truth. “Only Didio knows the truth” is what we fans whisper in the bitterly cold winter night, huddled together over an empty oil drum, burning back issues of Zero Hour to stay warm and weeping over the clusterfuck that is Hawk continuity and Amazons Attack. :-)

    But Crime Bible? Are you kidding? Without sounding too gushatory and unctious, YOU’RE writing it. Of course I’ll try it! You’re one of three writers, Mr. Rucka, that I’ll purchase a title sight unseen because your name is on it. Even if ultimately I find it doesn’t thrill me, the ride’s always, always interesting.

  21. admin

    Re: Are you kidding? You’re writing it, of course I’ll try it!

    Well, that’s a relief! (And the praise is high indeed, and much appreciated…now, of course, I won’t live up to the hype).

    I must confess that I’ve been all-too aware of the naysaying surrounding the Question, and the various motivations ascribed to it. I can’t say that it was unexpected, nor that it wasn’t understandable. Speaking as someone who loves Charlie, and who felt that DC hadn’t been doing particularly well by the character, I get the frustration all the more.

    I think that at least one of the things that bothers me when I hear the “Diversity! Agenda! Ah!” argument is that it’s a half argument. If the reason for the story had been simply to make the Question into an out Latina, then yes, it’d be a fair cop; but that argument ignores the whole story aspect, as well as a thousand other factors that — like most things — readers will never know about behind the scenes.

    (Though I do love the image of the weeping fans burning Zero Hour and bemoaning AA, whispering of the mysterious Editor Who Shall Not Be Named as if afraid the Elder Gods might take notice of them. That way lies madness, friends….)

    Glad you’ll give it a try, and my apologies for putting words (albeit through misunderstanding, rather than malice) in your mouth.

  22. admin

    Love it!

    You’ll be seeing more sass, promise!

  23. admin

    Took me a second to get the ref, and now I’m imagining a Hernandez-drawn Question.

    Which would, I think, be cool.

  24. kali921

    Re: Are you kidding? You’re writing it, of course I’ll try it!

    You must love all the Night of the Living Didio jokes that get bandied around the internets these days, particularly in certain quarters on LJ. ;-)

    Thanks for the reply. I know it must be frustrating when you see/read fans get angry about something that isn’t actually there. I’ve always felt that sometimes if the staff at the Big Two were a tad more forthcoming after the fact that fan resentment could be allayed, but then again, the medium of sequential literature is one where creators and decision makers expose themselves (not in a nasty way) to fans to a degree that is unthinkable in other entetainment mediums such as film, TV, etc.

    So there’s this cycle where fans rightfully complain sometimes that the Big Two are out of touch with aspects of fandom, particularly on issues of how women and POC are portrayed, but conversely there’s such an immediacy of contact between fans, writers, and editors and then we get a little spoiled and think goddammit, they should be answering our letters five seconds after getting them, and changing that panel on page nineteen RIGHT NOW!

    You know, I was talking last night to a few people and we decided that if you’d gotten to write AA, we suspect it would have been called Amazons Kick Ass Against Some Evil That 99% of Fandom Can Agree Needs Its Collective Ass Kicked, and it would have been something entirely different.

  25. victor_with_a_c

    From what I saw in Countdown today…Renee has her trench and hat. So at least now she looks like the Question at the end of 52.

    Yep I’m looking forward to Crime Bible. Greg, Matthew Clark mentioned to me that each issue will have a different artist. Is this because each issue will look at a different chapter of the Bible? Who besides Mandrake and Matt are on board?

    BTW my username is because of you and this past weekend at the SD Con. :)

  26. jackallison

    Countdown #38

    I can’t wait to hear what you think about Question’s appearance in this week’s Countdown.

  27. admin

    Re: Countdown #38

    Haven’t seen it yet.

  28. dewline

    I think a Rucka-Hernandez Question arc could sell a more than a few copies.

  29. dewline

    Re: Countdown #38

    It looks better. Much better.

  30. bradydale

    Death of the Question

    I loved 52. Loved it. Loved it like I haven’t loved comics in a long time.
    I guess to love a story something painful has to happen and the death of the only real QUESTION was the really hard part for me.
    I will follow Montoya out of interest in the concept, but I dunno. I dunno. I loved Charlie.

    I disagree with you strongly about including Montoya in Countdown. I think she was an awesome addition. I think she added a ton. It’s great to see a Cop side character make it to the Big Show.

    But killing the Question. Man.

    I hope you aren’t saying they are pouring salt in the wound. It’s hard. It’s hard.

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