The Question, Vol. 1: Zen and Violence by Dennis O'Neil
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Victor Sage, aka The Question, fights crime in Hub City, possibly the most corrupt city on Earth.
Prior to this volume, most of my exposure to The Question was in Modern Comics reprints of Charlton comics stories and the weekly 52 miniseries. The Question has been held in high regard for years so I finally gave it a shot.
Dennis O'Neil's run on The Question stems from DC creating a mature readers line before later creating the Vertigo imprint. It's a tale of a man facing an insurmountable tide of corruption in his home town.
The Question started as a backup feature in Blue Beetle, a Steve Ditko character who shared much of his creator's Randian philosophy. O'Neil and team gave The Question a near death experience and a new Zen lease on life, making him a much more viable character.
Now that the history lesson is over, this was some good shit, especially considering it's 30 years old at this point. While it's wordier than most of today's comics, O'Neil was way ahead of the curve. There aren't a lot of comics that feature the hero floating face down in a river after a gunshot to the head and that's just in the first issue.
The Question's journey sees him learning from Richard Dragon, 70's DC kung fu hero, now confined to a wheelchair. When he returns to Hub City, everyone has hell to pay.
Deny Cowan's art suits the story perfectly. I was skeptical at first since I wasn't a fan of his work on the Superman books in the 1990s but it had an understated, cinematic feel. There were a few wordless fight scenes that I'd put up against anything today. As always, Bill Sienkiewicz was marvelous on the covers.
O'Neil, Cowan, and the others had a good thing going with The Question, a dark crime comic that paved the way for a lot of others down the road. Four out of five stars.
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