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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

The Question #1

The Question #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 3, 2004

Cover date: January 2005

Writer: Rick Veitch
Penciller: Tommy Lee Edwards
Inker: Tommy Lee Edwards

"Devil's in the Details Part One: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey


The Question patrols the streets of Chicago, feeling the ineffable vibe that "speaks" to him.


Vic Sage buys a train ticket to Metropolis, where he will meet Lois Lane. He is besieged by fans that recognize him. The Conductor helps load his bags and get him through the throngs of fans. Vic settles into his seat and reads the Daily Planet. Soon he notices a small boy staring at him. The boy offers him a puzzle, which he takes.


The Question finds a body hanging upside down. He looks for clues around the body and finds a pack of hot dogs.


A passenger on the train discusses Vic Sage's recent expose of a meat packing plant that was grounding people into hot dogs. The Conductor chases the man off and asks Sage how he knows Lois Lane. Vic reveals that they went to school together. The Conductor is impressed and walks off. The boy asks Vic how he is doing with the puzzle Vic tells the boy that he hasn't solved it yet but he is getting there.


The Question gets to the meat packing plant and is suddenly fired upon by two men. The first man tells the other, whose name is Killebrew that the intruder isn't who they think it is. Killebrew calls out to the Question and informs him that he has the same vibe as the man they came to hire; Psychopomp. Now that they had seen Psychopomp's face he is trying to kill them. While Killebrew rants the Question moves into position behind him and attacks.

The Question asks Killebrew who hired him. Killebrew refuses to talk, but the Question persists. Killebrew explains that Psychopomp isn't a run of the mill hit man. Psychopomp doesn't just kill his victims; he sends them right into the next world, which is a hell Psychopomp thinks they deserve.

Meanwhile Psychopomp has made his way into the factory and makes his presence known.


The little boy seated in front of Vic Sage asks him about his mother. Vic replies that his mother passed away many years ago. The boy smiles and tells Vic that he meant wife instead of mother. Vic replies that he isn't married. The persistent boy continues by asking if he has a girlfriend. When Vic explains that he doesn't have a girlfriend the boy informs him that everybody should have somebody they really love. He asks if Vic ever had anyone like that. Vic responds that isn't what he said. Frustrated with the puzzle Vic pops the pieces out as the boy asks if he loved someone why he didn't tell her. Vic examines the pieces in his hand as the boy tells him it's a puzzle. Vic agrees.


Psychopomp throws his weapon at Killebrew, killing him. He tells the Question that they both walk the same path. The Question tells him that he lives in two worlds. As Psychopomp seemingly takes Killebrew's soul and asks the Question who taught him to walk that path. The Question replies that his teachers were experience and observation. Psychopomp comments that some say that is the best way and inquires who pays him. The Question responds that he serves only truth and justice.

Turning the tables the Question tells him that Killebrew said he was hired for a mob hit. Psychopomp explains that he offers his services to those of earthly power if one of them wishes a revenge on their enemies that extends into the afterlife. The Question says that because of that fact their paths diverge. Psychopomp agrees and says that he will honor the Question in the next world. The Question tells him that while he won't be going there Psychopomp might be. Psychopomp tells the Question that he speaks like a true warrior. Psychopomp adds that he will know how the Question came to walk between worlds.

The Question replies that he will tell his story if Psychopomp will reveal who had hired him for the contract killing. When Psychopomp agrees the Question reveals that he was a journalist appalled by the rampant corruption he saw. He decided to take the law into his own hands and ten years ago he put his mask on and became the Question. Psychopomp informs him that some of his employers have spoken of him with fear and respect. He points out that the Question is far more than a man of action and has somehow discovered the "secret side".

The Question cryptically reveals that his power is something akin to the Native American's ability to "hear" the river and the mountain. Over time the living city whispered to him and he discovered that Chicago, like him, is an ally of truth and justice. Psychopomp is impressed since discovering and employing those principles on his own is a great achievement. He freely admits that it will take all of his wiles to escape the Question. The Question counters that Psychopomp won't evade him and that Psychopomp must also make good on his promise to reveal who had hired him.

As Psychopomp attempts his escape he tells the Question that Killebrew was a go-between delivering an offer of employment from a criminal cadre called the Subterraneans. Psychopomp climbs down to where the cattle are kept to make his escape. The Question calls out that he has never heard of the organization. Psychopomp replies that no one has as the group has, by necessity, evolved into masters of secrecy. When the Question asks what necessity Psychopomp explains that they operate in the city under the sway of a being of immense physical and totemic power and that person is Psychopomp's intended victim. The Question asks which city he is referring too and as Psychopomp slips away he tells his enemy that to learn that he must read the signs.


The Conductor calls out that their next stop is the City of Tomorrow. He tells Vic Sage that they will be in Metropolis in five minutes and that if he wants he can take him to the last car to avoid his fans. Sage tells him that it won't be necessary. The Conductor smiles at the fact that Vic got sucked into the little puzzle the boy gave him and asks what the attraction is. Vic replies that it helped him zero in on what he is doing there.

As the train comes to a stop the Porter points out Lois Lane waiting on the platform. Outside Jimmy Olsen and Lois talk about Lois's relationship, or lack thereof, with Vic Sage. Lois calls out to the Conductor and tells him they were supposed to be meeting a VIP. The Conductor leads them to his seat, but they discover Sage isn't there. Lois asks him if he was sure that Sage was sitting there and the Conductor replies yes. He also produces the small little puzzle Sage was working on, that is incomplete and has the Superman symbol drawn on it. The conductor tells Lois that Sage was working on the puzzle as if it really meant something to him.

Outside Vic Sage slips away and activates the gas that turns him into the Question. He looks at the city and asks Metropolis to speak to him.

3Story - 3: I have to admit that I was extremely reticent about this comic. When it was announced all of those months ago that there would be a Question mini-series that ties into the Superman books I got that sinking feeling in my stomach that only comes from being a fanboy. It was the kind of sinking feeling that told me that it was probably a bad idea to tie the two worlds together. The Question may have started as a costumed hero, albeit a strange one since he was created by Steve Ditko and served as a precursor to a character named Mr. A, but after Denny O'Neil got a hold of him in the mid-'80s he became something of a dark character, more at home in the world of that era's Batman and Green Arrow than of Superman. Despite the changes to Batman and Green Arrow over the years I still think that a character like this doesn't really mesh with Superman's world and that it is an uncomfortable fit.

After reading the comic, because I really don't like to make a final judgment until I have actually read the comic that is giving me the sinking feeling mentioned above, I have to say that until I see more of the series I am going to go with my first impression. It all comes from my own personal feelings on how certain characters work. For example, Batman, to me, works better as the world's greatest detective that deals with street crime and freak jobs with serious psychological issues, is somewhat dark and is the biggest bad ass on the street. On the whole I really don't like when writers use Batman to deal with social ills or have him trip into the realm of the supernatural. It is a personal opinion to be sure, but that's how I feel and those type of Batman stories don't appeal to me because of my vision of the character.

My vision and my outlook, which may not be like yours, but at the same time is perfectly valid given the amount of reading that I have done.

It is somewhat the same with Superman. A story like this, which seems to be developing into a kind of supernatural, existential story where things happen on two levels, does not fit well with Superman. There is mention of truth and justice in the story, which is part of the whole Superman mystique, but at the same time having Superman getting involved with this type of creepy, all is not what it seems world (which I am assuming is going to happen) is not a good fit. Superman has his supernatural enemies, but he doesn't work well in that arena.

So I can appreciate what Veitch is trying to do but I don't know if I care for it all that much.

At the same time I kind of enjoyed the comic. As a set-up it works and after I got what I think Veitch was going for it was a decent read. I felt a little thick headed that I didn't get what was going on at first, but that passed and Veitch did what he usually does, which is put a different spin on the world of super-heroes. For those of you not familiar with his work he is one of the early graduate of the Kuburt school and has written and drawn comics for nearly two decades now. While his recent work with DC has gotten him some attention he is best known for producing a Swamp Thing story that DC refused to publish because the story contained a time traveling Swamp Thing talking with Jesus Christ. He also did a lot of work in the independents and if you are over the age of sixteen and want to be somewhat disturbed you should pick up the trade of The Brat Pack, which was his look at teenage sidekicks.

I did enjoy the "shadow world" aspect of the story. It was interesting having Psychopomp and the Question fight physically in the "other" world while they debate in the real world. It was more of a visual trick, but the writing helped bring it to life and make it seem interesting.

There were some problems with the story. One, the concept of a shadow organization is kind of cliched, but I'll give it a shot. Another problem is the fact that the two guys who were going to hire Psychopomp are killed by him because Killebrew and friend saw his face. I understand the mystique of having a hired killer who no one has ever seen, but I really think it is silly to have Psychopomp kill them. It strikes me as bad business.

Also, Psychopomp is a really bad name. I'm sure there is a reference I'm missing here, but at the same time I really don't care for it. It has more of a Vertigo feel to it than a story associated with Superman.

In the end I like Veitch and his work and I somewhat liked this issue, I just don't know how it is all going to play once Superman gets involved. I am taking a wait and see approach with it and hopefully it will work out for the best.

3Art - 3: It's not that Tommy Lee Edwards is a bad artist. I can somewhat see what Edwards is trying, but I like my comic art a lot cleaner than this. The problem is that, as mentioned, they are trying to sell this book as a Superman spin-off and DC wants Superman readers to pick this book up. In the "revamp" that kicked off six months ago the art in the Superman books got a lot slicker. The somewhat vague artwork from the old regime made way for some pretty clean art that befits the Man of Steel.

The thing is that the Question is such an odd character that slick art doesn't work. When you consider Dennis Cowynn's run on the book back in the '80s and even Steve Ditko, whose art was clean but strange, then the stage was set for the Question to look funky. In this Edwards excels. Sometimes it excels to the detriment of the story, but the writing has more to do with that than anything else.

So I can see that the art fits the story, but at the same time I don't care for it. This is not a personal slight against Edwards, just a personal preference. The different points of view that Edwards uses is interesting, but not enough to sustain an issue.

4Cover Art - 4: If I had never heard of or seen the Question before I can guess that this cover would have grabbed my attention. The Question, as mentioned above, has always held a certain fascination with me because of his design. A faceless man in a suit complete with fedora and trench coat. Even when the Question had a colorist who was completely color blind he looked kind of cool. So this cover had a lot going for it in the first place.

One of the interesting things about the cover is how the Question is more interested in whatever had caught his attention than anything else. All of the people around and behind the Question are focused on the sky and the streaking image of Superman overhead. The Question is focused on the reader (or his prey, however you want to look at it), which sets the tone for the series that while Superman is involved he is not the biggest concern of the Question.

This cover rates an eight on the Grab Me Meter.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2005

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