We’re all about comics here at Panels on Pages, but a geek cannot live on comics alone. Outside the Longbox is our chance to spotlight something outside our typical four-color realm – be it movies, music, TV or whatever.
Writing prose and writing for comics are two very different skills and it takes a talented author to master them both. Before he started writing for comics and became one of the go-to writers for crime, espionage and suspense writing in comics, Greg Rucka was an accomplished novelist and continues to ply his trade in both formats.
While he’s been known in our comic-centric circles for series like Queen & Country, stories began in his novels. To date Rucka has written twelve novels since 1996, beginning with Keeper, the first in his seven book Atticus Kodiak series.
The Kodiak series revolves around Atticus Kodiak, a bodyguard for hire. In the first three books, Keeper, Finder and Smoker, Atticus grows from a small-time personal bodyguard to the head of a sizeable firm. Attcus’ circle grows to include Natalie Trent, a fellow bodyguard whose father owns a large security firm and Bridgett Logan, a private eye who helps with the investigative end of client’s protection needs. It’s no surprise to those that are familiar with Rucka’s work that he’s able to create vibrant, realistic and authentic female action characters. As Atticus’ reputation and supporting cast grows, so do the threats he’s hired to face, starting with radicals targeting an abortion doctor to a tobacco executive who’s targeted by an expert assassin.
The next Kodiak novel, Shooting at Midnight, focuses on Bridget Logan dealing with her past and former (and continuing) battle with Heroin. The next three novels, Critical Space, Patriot Acts and Walking Dead take on a more international feel. To reveal more would dabble into spoiler territory, but Atticus’ world undergoes some major changes. With the exception of Shooting at Midnight, all are told from Atticus’ point of view in a terse, direct style that does wonders to convey the often sudden and decisive violence that takes place. Atticus’ journey through the books takes some wild turns, and while there’s been a sizeable gap of time between the later novels (Critical Space was published in 2001, Patriot Acts in 2007 and Walking Dead in 2009), the series may continue as Rucka focuses less on comic work and more on his novels.
His most recent novel, The Last Run, may well be the conclusion to Rucka’s series Queen & Country. Queen & Country ran for 28 issues as a comic series and then was continued in A Gentleman’s Game. There was a final story arc in comic form and then Queen & Country transitioned into two novels, Private Wars and The Last Run. While the comic is a great read on its own, the novels can be read on their own. Rucka also wrote two novels for the Perfect Dark video game series, Initial Vector and Second Front.
Rucka’s novels are a treat for any fan of suspense and action or his work in the comic field. If you’re looking for novels that are a fun read and paint a vivid picture of real-world based action and adventure, then these books are a perfect find.