The Question Issue #1 – February 1986 (DC Comics)

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TITLE: The Question Issue #1

YEAR: 1986


Script: Dennis O’Neil

Penciler: Denys Cowan

Inker: Rick Magyar

Letters: Gaspar

Colors: Tatjana Wood

Editor: Mike Gold

In 1967, the character “The Question” was created by writer/artist Steve Ditko.  First appearing in Charlton Comics “Blue Beetle” issue #1, the character was acquired by DC Comics in the early 1980s and incorporated in the DC Universe.

When the character debuted, the setting was in Hub City and featured an outspoken and aggressive investigative journalist named Vic Sage.   The character appeared in DC Comics “Crisis on Infinite Earths” in 1985 and also the three-issue arc to revive “Blue Beetle”, but it was the 1987 solo series written by Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Denys Cowan that would captivate readers.

With a total of 36 issues published and five quarterly specials, The Question has appeared on animated series such as “The New Btman Adventures”, “Justice League Unlimited”, “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” and Hub City has been mentioned in the CW series “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow”.  He also appeared in “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham”.

But let’s go back to the times before “52” and “The New 52”, when Dennis O’Neil and Denys Cowan was working on the “The Question” and a series that earned Cowan and inker Rick Magyar a nomination for an Eisner Award for “Best Art Team” back in 1988 and 1989.  This was a series that I think about when The Question is brought up.

Raw, dark, violent, corrupt…Hub City, nothing like Metropolis or Gotham.

The first issue featured the Question infiltrating a thug’s hideout and wanting a video tape.

Next thing, we see Victor Sage going on the air and running the tape that features Mitchell Doohan, Commissioner of Schools involved in blackmail and a man known as The Reverend watching the news air.

We see the stoic Sage (or Charles Victor Szasz) visiting the man who has created the Question’s mask and to find out why the mask is starting to slip.  We also learn how the mask is affixed to Victor’s face and the chemicals used.

But we also learn his desire to clean up Hub City but with Victor causing problems on the newscast, he has become a target.

The Reverend and his men send a message to Sage to visit them at a location and sure enough, Sage doesn’t show up but the Question does.

This first issue, we see the protagonist of the series literally get his but kicked, tortured, beaten and left for dead.

This is no doubt a fascinating first issue because The Question is nothing like we have seen in comics.  This is a protagonist who could care less.  He’s cocky, arrogant but he’s also quite mysterious and often talks about himself in third person.

But most importantly, the first issue establishes the darkness and corruption of Hub City that is integral to the plot and future stories.

If there is one major obvious fault of this series, if Victor Sage and The Question are to be seen as two different people, they wear the same clothes.  It’s not hard to see that both men are the same people and it frustrated me similar to watching a “Scooby Doo” animated series and seeing each of them always wearing the same clothes and wondering if they own any other clothes in their wardrobe.

That was one thing about comic books and animated series that got on my nerves, people wearing the same clothes and reading this series, those thoughts kept staying in my mind.  Wanting to plead to the editor to please distinguish Sage and The Question by at least changing the color of the clothes.  But that’s just the OCD in me.

Otherwise, “The Question” is one of the coolest series that wasn’t’ subjected to the comic code back in the ’80s.  Also, utilized better paper than most of my comics from the ’80s.

If you have the chance to read the series, definitely check it out!


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