The Question: The Five Books of Blood
by Greg Rucka
Greg Rucka has a penchant for writing a certain type of character. It shows in Queen and Country, Whiteout, Checkmate, and especially in his choosing to write Rene Montoya as the Question. After the original Question died during 52, the yearlong weekly comic series by DC Comics, Rene Montoya, ex-Gotham Police Department detective, picks up the mantle, i.e., the hat and the mask.
Originally published as a 5-issue 52 Aftermath comic series, Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood was collected into one trade paperback volume under the revised title, The Question: the Five Books of Blood.
I got the good fortune of getting to read them as the individual comics, and they read really well. Split into their five stories, it follows aspects of the Crime Bible; Deceit, Lust, Greed, Murder, and then the finale where Rene must face up against the Dark Faith’s leader.
It is a story that both sets up for Final Crisis, though we didn’t know it at the time, with bringing the Crime Bible to the fore and explaining a little bit about it. But more than that, it allowed Rene Montoya to settle into her role as the Question.
And Rucka knows how to write Montoya. In fact, it’s not the first time he’s written her, considering that he wrote a whole heap of her in Gotham Central.
I mentioned the “type of character” that Rucka writes a lot of. A lot of the time she’s a strong female — just look at the leads from Checkmate (Sasha Bordeaux), Queen and Country (Tara Chace), and Whiteout (Carrie Stetko) — and isn’t a big fan of authority. She has questions, and she goes about finding her own answers however she damn well pleases.
In Crime Bible, Rucka is allowed to take this maxim to the … max (sorry). The Question has never bowed to any authority, and has always tried to look behind the curtains. And this time there is a lot more on the line. If it became a publicly accessible document, the Crime Bible would wreak utter havoc across the planet.
One of the more controversial — for those who want to find controversy in a haystack — is Rene’s sexuality. This was never more apparent than in the Lust issue, but Rucka doesn’t overdo it, he doesn’t exploit it, and he doesn’t use her same-sex tendencies for story gain.
Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood, or whether you choose the TPB, is a great book to get. It is once again a standalone DC story that doesn’t require you to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the DC Universe. If you like a good story, a bit of a mystery, and some witty dialogue, this is definitely a book for you. Rucka’s writing is at top form, and he has the perfect outlet for his irreverent and oft-times misplaced humor in Rene Montoya.