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The Question #37

Posted: Monday, February 8, 2010
By: Michael Deeley

Denny O’Neil & Greg Rucka
Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz (i)
DC Entertainment
I have read and owned every issue of The Question. To me, it epitomizes the best of the “grim ’n gritty” comics of the '80s. The Question, as written by Denny O’Neil, pondered the complexities of morality and humanity while beating up bad guys. Even the ideas of “good guys” and “bad guys” were challenged. Battles often ended without a clear victory. The Questions continuing attempts to save his city from decay and corruption ultimately failed, as the series ended with his home town literally in flames. The artwork of Denys Cowan and Rick Magyar created a world with hard, dirty edges populated by flesh and blood humans. Together, these three men created a series that was violent, dark, and sometimes hopeless. And yet, there were small triumphs, moments of hope that reminded us that human nature was capable of overcoming its own flaws. The stories ultimately weren’t about a noble hero fighting villains. They were about people trying to find their way through life. The Question looked at the questions raised by living and rarely found answers.

This issue continues the series' legacy of complex characterization and unconventional storytelling. The doesn’t begin with Victor Sage, the first Question, rising from his grave as a Black Lantern like all the other tie-ins. His body isn’t even resurrected--it’s recreated by a black ring. Aristotle Rodor, Sage’s friend and mentor, deliberately attracts the ring hoping to revive Sage. Why? To answer the ultimate questions about life and death. Meanwhile, Lady Shiva, deadly assassin, comes to challenge Renee Montoya, Sage’s successor, to physical combat. Shiva had put Sage on the path to self-awareness and now she seeks the same with Montoya. All three characters confront the Black Lantern Question--and find a way to defeat him.

Emotions are the core of this story, more so than in Geoff Johns’ vision of the Rainbow Lantern corps. Tot’s curiosity overrides his common sense. Shiva comes to play the role she played before. But she is not the grinning femme fatale of old. Her expressionless face reflects her empty heart. And it is she who discovers a way to defeat a Black Lantern. This discovery could have a significant impact on the Blackest Night crossover. That is, if the core story’s writers and editors are smart enough to follow up on this plot point.

Seeing Cowan team up with Sienkiewicz was a real treat. They recapture the look and feel of the original series. Not only has the familiar grit returned, but the fighting too. The Question was known for its fast paced fight scenes. With O’Neil co-scripting, this issue felt like a passing of the torch to Greg Rucka. I’m more anxious than ever to see a new monthly Question series starring Montoya. The back-up feature in Detective Comics just isn’t cutting it.



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