From A Library – The Question: The Five Books Of Blood

Issues #1–5 by Greg Rucka and various artists

Renee Montoya is a great character – going from a character created for Batman: The Animated Series, to being a Gotham police officer in DC comics, to being one of the central characters in the excellent Gotham Central, being outed as a lesbian, and then her evolution to the new Question in the pages of 52, she is a fascinating women in a male- and superhero-dominated world. Rucka has done some great things with her; however, the Crime Bible, the Book of Blood, the veneration of Cain into a religion – this is silly, I’m afraid. I think the idea is a false starter, although I’m more than willing to give Rucka the benefit of the doubt.

Renee is trying to understand criminals the better to defeat them, so she is trying to get her hands on a copy of the Crime Bible; meanwhile, Flay, the head monk of the Order of Stone (followers of Cain), is tailing her and manipulating her, leading down a path of his design … The book is split into different chapters according to different lessons of the Crime Bible. The first is Deceit, with art provided by Tom Mandrake, sets the tone and feels like a Montoya story, all crime and street-level. The second lesson is Lust, with Jesus Saiz providing his usual top-notch art in a chapter that has to address Renee’s lesbianism head on as part of the plot – the issue is sexy without being salacious. The third book is Greed, which sees Rucka reunited with his Felon accomplice, Matthew Clark, with Renee back in Gotham and meeting with Kate Kane (aka Batwoman); Clark provides good fight choreography (important in a Question book), and the story makes me want to actually see the Batwoman comic actually hit the shelves. Murder is the fourth lesson, which takes Renee back to Hub City, the former stomping grounds of the original Question, Vic Sage; here, she helps Mayor Fermin, Vic’s former love, in a case that crosses paths with the Crime Bible. The last issue is Parable Of The Faceless, in which Rucka has Renee become the new leader of the Order of Stone (not by choice – Flay wanted her to lead them due to a vision and manipulated the situation to that end); this is the only negative because it means that the Crime Bible is still an ongoing concern in the DC universe and that Renee is wasted on it, which is a great shame.

The hardback copy I read is a lovely package; it includes the gorgeous John Van Fleet covers to the original series and the bonus material at the back has excerpts from ‘The Montoya Journal’, a promotional items which was sent out to various people (only 16 were made and 13 sent out, all of which were hand-made) – it provides a fascinating insight into how Rucka thinks and plans his stories. It is a very impressive undertaking and links to the events in the book as if it was written by Renee herself, providing background material and makes you worry for Rucka’s obsessive nature concerning his work. It made me feel bad for not enjoying the story more in the first place. I’m really glad that DC are allowing the further adventures of this new Question to continue, under the guidance of Rucka, but I wish it didn’t involve the Crime Bible.

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