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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

The Question #5

The Question #5

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 16, 2005

Cover date: May 2005

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

Devil's in the Details - Part Five: "Stillpoint"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

As The Question watches from a distance Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen sit on a stake-out that after six hours yields nothing substantial. Jimmy points out that they could have been stiffed by Vic Sage again. Lois ignores his comment and laments on her lack of a story. Jimmy believes that their efforts weren't a complete waste since the site of the Science Spire is a wi-fi hotspot. He even manages to find Lois' old college newspaper online and pokes fun at her hair style from that era, but Lois is quick to retort that everyone's hair is dorky in college.

Lois quickly changes the subject back to the Spire and wishes that she had the goggles Van Vliet had let her use so she could see what was really going on. Lois believes that if she can confirm that Six True Words' ritual could actually affect the Chi then Lois would have a story.

Jimmy laughs as he finds a picture of Vic Sage from the same college newspaper and wonders how Lois could have fallen for the guy. Lois explains for the "billionth" time that she never dated Vic Sage and that she was only his editor, end of imaginary soap opera. Jimmy picks at her, pointing out that Sage is listed on the masthead right under Lois. Lois tells Jimmy that Sage was always bringing in these terrible poems which, she assumed, he expected her to read. Instead, she created a poetry department and put Sage in charge of that.

Jimmy laughs as he finds one of Sage's poems titled "Love Justice" and the two laugh as Jimmy reads the poem out loud. Jimmy suspects that Sage was writing about Lois, but Lois won't hear of it. She points out that it is getting to be light out so they should leave before Luthor's security guards find them.

After watching the two leave The Question deactivates the gas that gives him his faceless appearance and starts to leave. Two guards discover him and order that he is in a highly restricted area. Suddenly, one of the guards recognizes him as Vic Sage, who is on their watch list. Vic lashes out at the guards and as he knocks them both to the ground he tells them that he isn't Vic Sage, but someone else entirely.

Later, Van Vliet is briefed on the attack. Van Vliet terminates the guards' employment since anyone admitting to being beaten up by an anchorman has no place in Lex Luthor's organization. He also orders that the Stillpoint be cleared of all personnel immediately.

Six True Words stumbles up to the group and the guards rush to assist her. Van Vliet asks if she is okay and Six replies that she is fine but a little tired. She explains that she had been at the site releasing the remnants of over three hundred victims of slavery and shipwreck, but she was successful and the integrity of the Earth energy is assured. Van Vliet is pleased and requests that she join him as he inspects the Stillpoint of the spire, which the crew had just finished erecting.

As they ride in the elevator Van Vliet explains that the Spire had been built to collect the Earth energy will be targeted at the Stillpoint. When they reach their destination he asks that she be careful since the crew had only just finished the hot riveting the previous night. At first Six True Words isn't sure that she wants to be there since she feels weak but Van Vliet brushes off her protests and asks if she can feel the energy around them. Six True Words agrees that the Chi is strong where they are and begins to feel better.

Van Vliet believes that there won't be a human alive that won't respond to the energy and the two don the helmets that allow them to view the Chi and both are amazed at what they see. As they take their helmets off Van Vliet is very pleased, but Six True Words admits to being troubled about something that happened the previous night. She explains that while she was deep in prayer she felt the presence of someone who could walk within the Chi who whispered to her that he suspected that the Chi is not being trained for the betterment of humanity but to be used as a weapon with which to kill someone. She tells Van Vliet that she didn't believe him and finished her prayer.

Van Vliet smiles and admits that she could believe it because it was totally true. He adds that Lex Luthor predicted that she would figure it out and had a back up plan. Van Vliet is honestly sorry that it had to be this way because of all she had taught him but she is one of the few people who could threaten their creation and undermine their purpose.

One of the security guards starts to push up on the panels underneath Six True Word's feet. She pleads for Van Vliet to make the man stop, but he doesn't and Six True Words falls to her death. Van Vliet reflects on what a flawless creature she was, but her death was necessary as a sacrifice for the greater good of their vision.

Elsewhere Minos has his men guide the Ghost Train into the Science Spire Station. Psychopomp meets him there and informs Minos that he will find the Question on the grounds of the project as Psychopomp had promised. Minos is pleased and explains that he is going to leave the Ghost Train with a skeleton crew while the rest of the Subteraneans go topside on a search and destroy mission. Psychopomp asks about Superman, but Minos quickly explains that he pulled some strings with Lex Luthor to distract Superman half a world away. Psychopomp is concerned that if Superman dies in the Asian subcontinent he won't be able to escort him into the afterlife. Minos tells him not to worry about it since Superman will, at worst, break a sweat on his mission. He adds that Superman is going to die at the Science Spire after which Psychopomp will be responsible for making sure that Superman doesn't resurrect again.

He turns to address his troops and admits that while they have never gone topside en masse before it is a gamble they have to take. To Minos the Question was worth the risk since he succeeded where Superman failed, so the Question must be removed. One of his soldiers asks what one man can do against a force that has enough fire power to overthrow Cuba but Psychopomp cautions that they should not underestimate a man who can walk in two worlds.

Meanwhile the Question walks around the Spire, using his abilities to peer into the next world. He discovers that souls who had been trapped there had been freed, but senses that one remains. He quickly realizes that it is the woman he had met the previous night, whom he believes met a violent end that she is doomed to relive over and over again in the afterlife. After watching her for a moment the Question comes to the conclusion that through her movements she is giving him a sign. He comes to the conclusion that she is pointing back to the top of the Spire.

Before he could investigate the matter the voice of Superman stops him. Superman calls him by name and reveals that he knows his true identity, why he took up his anti-crime crusade and his martial arts study and while he doesn't quite understand his modern shamanism he is confident that he will figure it out. The Questions asks where Superman is and the Man of Steel replies that while he is not in the immediate vicinity he can see and hear the Question. He reveals that he is communicating by compressing his voice with ultra-precise sound amplitude modulation resulting in a micro-pressure wave that can only be heard by the Question.

Superman tells him that he has learned that the Question not only battled a group of militants at the subway station but killed four of them as well. The Questions asks what the Man of Steel's point is and Superman reminds him that in Metropolis the rule of law applies to everyone. The Questions replies that it was the rule of the jungle on that platform and that Superman would have done the same. Superman informs him that he wouldn't and that this is his final warning on the matter. As the Question enters a portable rest room he tells Superman that he appreciates his forthrightness but suggests that Superman uses his super-analytical mind to the real questions, which were who were those men and if he killed them where are the bodies.

At Clark and Lois's apartment Lois finishes explaining how her night went with Jimmy and that the only exciting thing that happened was that a weird guy in a trench coat wandered by. She realizes he is talking to someone and asks who he is mumbling to. Clark replies that he is talking to the weird guy in the trench coat. Lois begins to ask what the man's connection to the situation is but Clark tells her he has to leave because Chemo is about to destroy downtown New Delhi. As he changes Lois explains that Luthor and Van Vliet brought in a feng shui master who has turned up dead. Superman wonders what her point is and Lois asks if he can see Chi.

Elsewhere Minos is informed that Superman has engaged Chemo, which has been confirmed by a visual on a satellite feed. As he leads his men deeper into the Science Spire he tells them that soon Superman will showboat up the Spire and die a second death, only this time he won't pull any zombie tricks. After that the Subteraneans will run Metropolis and they don't need to deal with a street punk like the Question.

Inside the portable restroom the Questions activates his belt that releases Professor Rodor's gas, which changes him into the Question. He concentrates and is able to see how all of the cities in the world are connected. Outside Minos and his men are having trouble picking up any life readings. Minos becomes angry, but soon they realize that he is at the top of the Spire. Minos asks if he has a visual and his soldier replies yes, but with the image he is looking at it seems like he is not alone. As the Subteraneans surround the portable restroom the Question makes contact with Six True Words, who confirms his suspicions about the Spire. He asks how he can disarm the Spire and the spirit laughs and replies that the answer is all around him.

3Story - 3: I went back and forth on the grading of this issue. Usually I have a good idea of what grade I want to give the comic I am reviewing. While my viewpoint is not totally black and white (most of the time) I tend to either like or dislike a book.

This issue was a tough to review. On one hand I really dislike the overall plot and storyline. As I mentioned in my first review for this series I think this plot smacks of a bad comic book film from the '70s and '80s. Not CAPTAIN AMERICA II: DEATH TOO SOON bad, but pretty lousy nonetheless. The whole Chi thing and the fact that the Question can "walk in two worlds" just isn't my bag. Unless the Zatanna, the Demon, Spectre, Johnny Thunder, Dr. Fate or even Dr. Strange is involved I don't like super-heroes and the quasi-mystical mixing. I am not condemning writers who mix the two, but I just don't care for it all that much.

Despite these feelings there are things about this series that I absolutely love. Rick Veitch has thrown some little bits of business throughout the series that has proved to be endearing.

So, where do I start? Okay, the parts I didn't like go first.

Of the two main problems I had with this issue my biggest objection has to do with the death of Six True Words. Her death served no real purpose. I can't even say that it worked as a shock value because the set-up for her death was apparent as soon as Van Vliet brought her to the Stillpoint. I re-read the scene several times and from the dialogue Six True Words admits to speaking with the Question, whom she doesn't know, but admits that she didn't believe what he had to say.

She didn't believe him. She may have hesitated in telling the story to Van Vliet, but she was naive enough to think that such a thing was not possible. Maybe she didn't want to believe that she had put so much time and effort into a project that may result in the death of another living creature. It doesn't really matter, the fact is that all Van Vliet had to do was put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, look directly into her eyes, smile and tell her that the man had lied to her. But does he do this?

No. He admits that the man was right and has her killed.

Why? What was the point? I mean you could always say that Veitch killed her to let the Question "talk" to her in the "other world" and further examine this inane concept that I really, really hate, but if that is the only reason to kill a character than that is just weak. It would have been more dramatic and better for the character (such as she was) to have Van Vliet deny it, have Six True Words discover that it is true and then either have her followed and put into danger, which she could find a way out of or kill her then when it would be more dramatic.

Of course just about anything would have been more dramatic than having a couple of goons mess with the floor she was standing on and have her drop to her death, but maybe that's just me.

Another aspect of her death that bothered me is why would Van Vliet kill her at the Spire? Six True Words spent the better part of a night purging the area of trapped souls that could hamper the potency of the Spire and what does Van Vliet do? He kills her in such a violent way that is guaranteed to leave her soul trapped there. Through the dialogue we know that Van Vliet buys into the concept of the Chi, so he must have known that something bad might happen if he kills her on the site. It would have made better sense to have the character taken off site and killed, but that's not the way it happened and why? So the Question could discover her trapped soul and find a way to save the day.

So instead of doing something that makes sense Van Vliet suddenly becomes a base villain. I half expected him to suddenly grow a top hat and pencil-thin mustache that he would twirl as he had her murdered.


My second problem with this issue stemmed from Veitch's characterization of Superman. From my dealings with the various Superman message boards I frequent I have come to the conclusion that Superman fans couldn't agree on how to handle the character if a gun was held to our heads. Every fan has a somewhat different view of how the character should he done and I am no exception to this rule. None of us are right or wrong, but we all have opinions and I am of the opinion that Superman should not have ridiculous powers. I can't stand it when a writer takes Superman's powers and makes them too outlandish. The only reason I bought the scene in Rucka's run on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN where Superman heard the gunshot that hit Lois is because I understood it on an emotional level. Otherwise I hate it when they take a simple power and expand it to a ridiculous extreme. This is one of the reasons that some of the pre-Crisis Superman stuff does nothing for me.

Super-ventriloquism is one of those powers. I could never wrap my head around the concept. So the updated version used in this issue made me roll my eyes and sigh. I thought it was a terrible idea and there isn't much that could be said to convince me otherwise.

Also, I didn't care for the sanctimonious tone Superman took with the Question. It seemed like the only investigating he did into the Question's fight with the Subteraneans was to talk to the police. Clark is an investigative reporter. I have faith that he wouldn't go to the Question without having all the facts.

Frankly I think the situation was handled the way it was to avoid having to deal with Superman during the story. It seems like Superman is more of an annoyance to Veitch, like a kid brother or sister that your parents make you take along with you when you're hanging out with your friends.

So outside of the plot, the death of Six True Words and the treatment of Superman I enjoyed this issue. In all honesty I liked one thing about this comic and that was Minos.

Minos is a fun villain. Veitch is obviously having a good time writing the character because he has the most personality of the entire cast. The speech he made to his men was great and reminded me of old war movies where the fearless leader gets up and tells his soldiers that they may not make it but they should fight on anyway. I honestly believe that Minos and the Subteraneans (which sounds like the name of a new wave band) make credible villains for Superman. It's a thinking man's group of villains and it would have been interesting to see how Superman would have dealt with them if they engaged him directly.

Of course the point of the Subteraneans was to not directly engage Superman, so the point is kind of moot.

It was also interesting to see Minos poking fun at the fact that Superman died and came back to life. The villains don't know what "really" happened so the zombie and resurrection jokes were great.

One of the other things I liked about this issue initially had the opposite effect. At first I was put off by the fact that Vic Sage took down the guards at the beginning of the issue. I thought it was kind of odd that Vic Sage would be willing to do the fighting instead of the Question, but after reading the dialogue again I realized that at the time of the fight he didn't want to be Vic Sage because Jimmy and Lois did such a good job of making fun of him that he didn't want to be Vic Sage at the moment. It was an interesting bit of sub-text that legitimized the sequence.

I have to admit, though, that I really enjoyed the last page. It was a great cliffhanger and sets up what could be a great action sequence to open the final issue.

In short, I really hate the plot but the characters are making the story readable. Despite the fact that Minos may never show up again he has become my favorite character of the series and I have finally come around to the concept of the Subteraneans.

3Art - 3: The art was rather solid this time around. Despite my distaste for this style of art I was taken with some of the images that Tommy Lee Edwards produced.

Lois looked pretty good. I was very impressed with the bottom panel on the second page. Lois was pretty and had a great expression on her face. Jimmy looked a little odd, but this was the first time that I really liked the "other world" effect. It was interesting to see the Question's view of Lois and it is pretty obvious the feelings Vic had/has for Lois.

The Question looked incredible on page four. Even though he was changing back to Vic Sage the character came off the page.

I was really taken with the scene where Six True Words died, at least on the art level. As I mentioned I hated the sequence as it played out, but there were subtle expressions on the character's faces that made the scene work in its own right. Six True Words obviously doesn't want to believe what the Question had told her. It is obvious from the way her body language and I thought that it was great that Edwards was able to pull off that effect.

The page layouts were impressive with this issue. Like issue three the pacing was what let this issue flow as smooth as it did.

The two pages where the Question was getting in touch with the Chi lines were interesting but at the same time I didn't think much of them. These pages personified what I don't like about this series. Though I have to admit it is kind of amusing to have a portable restroom the setting for a weird, quasi-mystical ritual.

In the end as much as I don't care for Edwards' art any comic that ends with the image of a para-military unit surrounding a portable restroom can't be all bad.

4Cover Art - 4: This was a great cover. If you want to catch the eye of a comic fan nothing beats a girl in a short leather skirt and fish net stockings falling to her death.

In all seriousness I thought this was probably the best cover of the series. The Question looked good, I enjoyed the stark contrast of the white background against the cityscape and Six True Words falling to her death was an eye-catching detail that made the cover jump off the racks.

The great thing about Six True Words on the cover is that you really don't know who it is. In all honesty when I first got the book I thought the woman was Lois Lane. Why Lois was wearing Black Canary stockings and a short skirt I didn't know, but when Six True Words died everything made sense.

I would also like to take this time to admit that my patented 2005 edition of the Grab Me Meter is a bit of a fraud. Most of the books that I review are actually held for me by the comic shop I use as my home base of fandom. So when you see the Grab Me Meter reading realize that I did not actually grab the comic off of the rack but am actually pretending that I did to try and get into the head of the average comic fan and their buying habits.

On that note, this cover receives the coveted 10 out of 10 on the 2005 edition of the Grab Me Meter.

Many are seen, few are chosen.

Just kidding. I just dug the cover.

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

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