Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

The Question #2

The Question #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 1, 2004

Cover date: February 2005

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

"Devil's in the Details Part Two: As Above ... So Below"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane bicker back and forth on their way to a press conference given by Lex Luthor. Olsen insists that Lois shouldn't rag on him since it wasn't his fault that Perry White had teamed with Vic Sage, who had just ditched them at the train station. Lois explains that she didn't want to be teamed with Sage, whom she considers a cipher.

Vic Sage is already at the press conference, but soon leaves to do some investigating on his own. After activating the gas that turns him into The Question, Sage walks the streets of Metropolis and uses his ability to "hear" the city to get a feel of what Metropolis is like. He asks, in a myriad of ways, what the city is really thinking and feeling.

Back at the press conference Lex Luthor begins by exalting the virtues of Metropolis, which he describes as a vibrant city that is ready to stand and proclaim that it will not be defined by an alien presence. He tells the gathered reporters that he and those that work for him are there to state that their city is the capital of the civilized world and compares it to ancient Rome in that all roads lead to Metropolis. He continues by explaining that as great as their city was there was an unholy shadow over everything they accomplish. Lex feels that it is time for Metropolis to speak for itself and take a firm hold on its own destiny.

In keeping with this feeling Lex, along with architect Miles Van Vliet and expert on planetary harmonics (also known as feng shui) Six True Words, gives notice that he will build a monument befitting the indomitable human spirit that would serve as a lasting testament to the inherent nature of man. As he speaks a scale model of his achievement rises from its hiding place. Lex proclaims that this is their legacy and calls it the Science Spire.

From the audience Lois asks Jimmy if Luthor really thinks he can get away with the land grab to build the Spire. Jimmy replies that according to the reporting she had done Lex already has. Lex then introduces Vliet, who tells his benefactor that the choice of his design speaks to Lex's personal commitment to this project as does the zoning commission's decision to sacrifice over one hundred city blocks to make it possible.

He goes on to explain that the Spire will be the largest integrated complex ever constructed in a major, urban downtown area. The main tower will have two hundred and twelve stories making it the tallest free-standing structure on Earth. From the audience Lois Lane begins to ask if Vliet would comment on the disappearance of the deeds from the Hall of Records that allowed the zoning board to clear the building of the Spire, but is interrupted by Luthor, who thanks Vliet and introduces True Six Words, who was there to advise them on the more subtle aspects of the Spire.

True thanks Lex and begins her speech by telling the reporters that she is happy that people in America are becoming familiar with the term feng shui. Feng shui, she explains, is the art of integrating structures to the invisible life energy that flows through all living things. The Science Spire will be the first modern building perfectly balanced between the realms of heaven and earth.

One of the reporters asks how the arcane arts of Feng Shui will be applied in the modern age. According to True, Feng Shui operates on the principle that there is a life energy that flows along the subtle meridian on the Earth, which is called a chi. Another reporter asks how this can be incorporated into the design of something high tech like the Spire. True replies that Metropolis has a very strong Earth chi and the Spire was designed to be in perfect harmony with the geomantic forces so that many beneficial things may come to pass.

Lois quickly grows tired of what she refers to as new-age mumbo jumbo and tries to get the questions back to the missing deeds. Luthor brushes her off and tells the assembled reporters that his scientists have mapped the flow of the Earth's chi and discovered that this global network converges in Metropolis at the exact point that the Science Spire is to be built.

Suddenly, Jimmy Olsen yells out, interrupting True. Enraged, Luthor screams that the Daily Planet will get their damn real estate questions answered, but Olsen is quick to point out that there is something wrong with the sun. The Question, who has reached the area of the city where the Spire will be constructed, notices the effect as well. Panic among the citizens of Metropolis begins to spread.

Back at the Press Conference Jimmy uses his telephoto lens to see what is happening to the sun and notices a large shape move in front of the sun. He believes it to be a gigantic lens like a magnifying glass. Suddenly a giant burst of light erupts and a large beam of energy fires to the ground.

While several people cry that it is the end of the world the Question notices that a group of armed men come out of the subway. They make their way to the Metropolis National Bank and begin to rob it as the beam of energy starts to boil Metropolis Bay. Superman arrives on the scene and begins to take care of the beam as the Question makes short work of the bank robbers, who are in constant communication with their superiors, who call themselves the Forward Observer. The Observer radios the Ghost Train, the Bank Team's transportation, and informs them that they have lost communication with the Bank Team. The Ghost Train asks if they should check on the Bank Team, but are told that the Forward Observer is going to do a clean sweep.

Suddenly the bodies of the Bank Team burst into flames and are consumed. The Forward Observer is picked up by the Ghost Train and an argument breaks out over whether or not the Bank Team should have been killed. The Observer feels bad, but also knows he did the right thing by their group, the Subterraneans. He adds that the Team understood the danger going in. He adds that their group has been acting under Superman's nose for over a month and their success depends on them acting while Superman is otherwise occupied and never, ever leaving a clue to their existence.

Another member of the group announces that the threat is over and that Superman is back in Metropolis and cleaning up the damage. He adds that it appears that they have a breach of the Ghost Train and that there is an intruder in the Forward Observer's quarters. The Observer rushes to his quarters with a security detail and is not surprised to find that the intruder is Psychopomp. Psychopomp reports that the man they sent, Killebrew, is indeed suffering, adding that before he crossed over he told Psychopomp that they wanted something similar done to Superman. Psychopomp tells them that he is intrigued and has decided to accept their offer of employment.

2Story - 2: I could start this review by complaining about the presence of Lex Luthor in this story. I could very easily take the position of continuity Nazi and ask hundreds of questions about where this story fits into Superman's history. Does it take place years ago or is this the present?

You know questions like that.

But I am not going to do that (at least for right now) and the reason I am not going to do that (for right now) is the fact that Lex Luthor's presence is only a small part in why this series holds little to no appeal for me.

(Of course you could ask, "Why are you reviewing this if you don't like it?" It's a fair question. The main reason I am reviewing this is that I offered to review it and I have enough respect for Steve to be honest in my thoughts on this series. I have made my bed, but I can still complain when I lie in it. Besides, if any of you have read the bulk of my previous reviews you know that I like a lot of what I review, so every once in awhile its nice to have something that I can dislike so I don't feel like a huge, fanboy suck up.)

With this second issue I am beginning to see two overall problems with the series. The first is that the plot is shaping up to be that of a really bad comic book movie from the seventies or eighties and the second is what Lois referred to as the "New Age mumbo jumbo." We'll take these one at a time.

One of the hallmarks of many truly terrible comic book movies and television shows is a plot that involves some kind of supernatural or scientific theory that is somehow used and then abused by some individual for their own nefarious purposes. It could be something as simple as the pilot for the late seventies Spider-Man television series or as something as large in scope as 1997's Batman and Robin. While not all of them are completely horrendous it can get a little tiresome.

This issue is setting up that kind of plot. While I do not discount the information on Feng Shui and the chi the fact that Lex Luthor is involved suggests that he has some kind of plan for this power. In all of his incarnations Luthor has been pretty intent on gathering any kind of power he can, so I doubt his intentions are altruistic, even if all he is after is more money, but given the comments about Superman I have serious doubts about this. Besides, money is a means to an end not the ultimate goal for Luthor.

In addition to the Science Spire, which is kind of a silly name, we have the Subterraneans who instead of developing some kind of giant cannon or such to use to blast Metropolis they use a giant magnifying glass. Yes, a giant magnifying glass. While I like the fact that this group is trying to get a foothold into Metropolis and is using advanced technology that can harness the power of the sun into a weapon, they used this as a distraction so they could rob a bank. You would think that an organization as powerful as the Subterraneans could use their skills to find a better way to grab a power base. It was exciting, but this struck me as kind of goofy.

Now the argument could be made that they needed to distract Superman because a simple bank robbery would attract the Man of Steel's attention. It occurs to me that a better plan could have been formed to do so. Besides, what does a criminal organization need to rob banks for? Sure its easy money, but the fact is the criminal organizations make money off of things like gun running, prostitution, gambling, drugs and fraud. More money is made in securities fraud than a bank robbery. So while it has a cute, Silver Age vibe to it, I have to say that I expected a lot more from Veitch.

This brings us to the aforementioned "New Age mumbo jumbo." It's not that I think that all of the information was pap. People believe in that sort of thing and I have seen enough weird things in my life to know that you can't discount something because it sounds silly. My problem is the potential the Spire has to be used as some kind of weapon. As stated I have no doubt that Luthor is trying to use this Spire to his own ends, which can't be good. So the concept of utilizing the magnetic lines of the Earth for some unknown purpose is a pretty flimsy excuse for a comic book plot.

Another reason I didn't care for this issue was the use of the Question's ability to "see" a city. It isn't a bad concept and kind of unique, which should tie it to the concept of Feng Shui and thus bring everything together, but the overblown writing really put me off. How many times can Veitch ask the same question in different ways? How many times can Veitch bring snippets of conversation together before he realizes that we, as the audience, might get what he is trying to say?

So between a hero with some interesting abilities that I don't particularly care for (the abilities, not the hero) and the fact that we are tripping badly into a quasi-mystical realm I really don't like where the mini-series is going.

The only good thing about this issue was the point where Lois was talking to Superman and Jimmy thought she was talking to herself. That's it. That and the Question fighting the Bank Team were the only things I liked about the issue.

And now, because I can't help myself, I will indulge the side of me that is stuck on continuity (told you it was going to happen). This makes the other, more rational side upset, but hey, why not?

What was with Lex Luthor appearing in this series? The last time we saw him was in the sixth issue of SUPERMAN/BATMAN where he was dishonored, on the run and threatening a coming crisis. Now he is back to where he was back before he became President. Did I miss the part the said, "Several Years Ago"? I know this seems kind of silly, but if Veitch was going to use Luthor he should have done a better job of setting up his role.

So to sum up; the plot is weak, the concepts are flawed and I have no idea why Luthor is being used the way he is.

This will only end in tears.

3Art - 3: The page layouts were more eye-pleasing this time around. I still do not care for Tommy Lee Edwards "Vertigo" style artwork, but he managed to do a little more storytelling in this issue. I was happy to see less of the Question's "point of view" and more of a straight forward story. His Lex Luthor was fine, but I didn't care for his Superman (what there was of him).

His Question, however, is the only thing that makes the artwork even remotely interesting. We didn't see a whole lot of him, but the bank robbery scene was well paced.

I am hoping that the artwork will improve, but it seems to be Tommy Lee's style. It's not that it is "wrong" or anything. Art is subjective. I just don't happen to enjoy what Edwards' produces.

2Cover Art - 2: I really don't care for this cover. The color scheme hurts my eyes and while it is artistic, it doesn't appeal to me. The cover to the previous issue was much more exciting and set a standard for the series. This cover was kind of boring and really had no appeal.

This cover rates a 3 of 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

February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2005.