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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

The Question #6

The Question #6

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 20, 2005

Cover date: June 2005

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

Devil's in the Details - Part Six: "Falling in Place"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

The Subterranean commandos have the portable toilet the Question is hiding in surrounded. Through his goggles one of the men believes that the Question is stepping out of the toilet, but in reality this is the Question using his abilities to fake out the Subterranean. The commando backs up and falls over the ledge to his death. Minos sees this and asks what the situation is. One of his men believes that the helmet they got from Luthor's people might have zapped his brain. Minos admonishes his men and asks about the Question. The commando tells him to relax and begins to say that they have the situation under control, but he notices that the portable toilet's door is open. They spot the Question and open fire.

As Minos demands a situation report the Question takes the commandos down with ease. A total of three troopers hit the ground as Minos screams into the unmanned radio. Another trooper notices that the elevator is coming down and Minos believes that the car contains his men. Then he sees the giant question mark painted on the elevator and doesn't want to believe it's there. One of the troopers suggests that they need to rethink their strategy but Minos will have none of it. He orders his men to fan out since their prey may have come down with the elevator.

Using his abilities to distract the troopers, one of which believes that he has some weird power like Psychopomp, The Question continues his assault by starting up the various pieces of construction equipment at the site. Minos believes that he knows how the Question thinks and orders his men to focus on the rigs that have not been started yet. The Question watches the confusion from behind the wheel of the excavator for a moment before attacking again, using the machine as a battering ram. Minos orders his men to open fire on the excavator before it can take another swing. Suddenly, more of the machines come alive and begin moving. Minos' men figure out quickly that the Question has rigged the machines to move on their own and Minos calls for them to fall back.

The Question once again uses his abilities to eavesdrop on Minos' plans. He whispers in the shadows and suggests that Minos take his men over by a storage shed where the construction company stores their blasting ordinance. Once the Question has his prey where he wants them he uses one of the machines to fire at the shed. The explosion is immense and takes out most of Minos' men. Minos tries to contact the Ghost Train and order them to come in and sweep the area, but he cannot make contact with his men.

Using all of the machines at his disposal the Question hauls Minos and his men to a pit and fills it with concrete. The concrete does more than trap their bodies. The concrete binds their souls to the area as well and makes the Science Spire useless to Lex Luthor's ends. The act frees Six True Words soul from her eternal fall.

Van Vliet appears and pulls a gun on the Question. He explains that he will have the site demolished and rebuilt before finding another Chi master to cleanse the area. He also announces that Lex Luthor will never find out about the ghost problem when suddenly Six True Words' spirit knocks Van Vliet down. The Question puts him into the concrete as well. Van Vliet pleads and blames the whole affair on Lex Luthor. The Question tells him that he needs to make sure that Van Vliet won't tell Luthor about what happened so it will be a surprise when Luthor pulls the trigger on his Science Spire.

Back at the subway tunnel where the Question had previously battled Minos and his men Superman helps out the police in their investigation of the area before taking off to follow the trail back to the Ghost Train. As he searches the train Vic Sage makes his report, exposing the existence of the Subterraneans and telling the people of Metropolis that all of their activities were conducted under the nose of their hometown hero Superman.

Superman finds a room full of burning bodies. Psychopomp is there as well and Superman asks him who killed the men. Instead of telling him that they killed themselves rather than be caught, Psychopomp explains that they still exist beyond the grave. Superman doesn't care and tells him that he won't even get to use the toy rattles he is holding. Psychopomp admits that he knows this just as Superman knows that the power behind them is real. He continues to expound on this as green gas envelopes him and when it clears the Question is standing in Psychopomp's place.

Superman demands to know what kind of dodge the Question is playing. The Question reveals that he had infiltrated the Subterraneans after Psychopomp's death in Chicago. The Question knew that Superman was in danger so he acted. Superman then asks what happened to the Subterraneans, but the Question feels that Superman really doesn't want to know. When Superman presses the point the Question explains that they have seen the light and their futures in the city is assured. Superman informs the Question that he is too ruthless and worse has the stink of magic around him.

The Question knows that Superman is a solar being and solar beings don't like Earth energy. He reveals that Luthor was going to use this against Superman by making the Spire into a weapon that would collect and channel that force. The Question made sure that the weapon would never work at peak efficiency. Then the Question asks for a favor. Superman tells him that he doesn't do favors for those that skirt the law in his city. The Question counters that the only reason he was there is that the city didn't want Superman to die.

He tells the Man of Steel that he needs Superman's help in reaching out to a person he lost a long time ago. Superman replies that he doesn't do personal crisis intervention either. The Question reveals that it is more than that. There was a reporter whom he knew a long time ago that works for the Daily Planet, he explains. He was supposed to help her with the story but he dropped the ball. He asks Superman to give her a key that will unlock a locker which contains files she had been looking for, adding that he wants Superman to convey something to her. Superman realizes who the man is talking about and gives him twenty-four hours to get out of Metropolis.

Later Jimmy and Lois race through the train station trying to locate Vic Sage. The porter informs them that the train is about to leave. Lois tells him that they needed to talk to Vic Sage. The porter replies that Mr. Sage has requested to not be disturbed but he did leave a key to a locker. Lois realizes that not only does the locker contain the missing land deeds she had been searching for, but that Sage has had them the entire time. Inside the train an obnoxious passenger tries to talk to Vic Sage, who eventually has the porter ask the man to leave him alone. In the seat in front of him the boy from his initial trip asks if he solved the problem of the woman he loves. He tells the kid that he doesn't believe he would get to the heart of that woman. The boy doesn't understand why he can't be with the woman he loves and Vic Sage explains that despite the fact that he does love Lois there are certain questions where the best answer is no answer at all.

2Story - 2: At last year's DragonCon (held just about every Labor Day Weekend here in Atlanta, GA) I attended a Hulk panel that had, as guests, Peter David, Paul Jenkins and Bruce Jones. It was a great panel, mostly because Peter David is a very experienced convention guest. At one point a fan asked the panel what they thought of the Hulk movie that had come out the previous year. Peter David's answer stuck with me. He said something to the effect of that if you have a strong beginning and a weak middle and ending people will forgive you, if you have a weak beginning and middle but a very strong ending people will forgive you, but if you have a weak beginning and a weak ending but a very strong middle the audience won't buy it.

(Keep in mind that my recollection of that panel may not be perfect. It was almost eight months ago and I did not have the foresight to bring a video camera, but that was the gist of his answer.)

I believe the same could be said of THE QUESTION. The story had a slow beginning, a pretty intense middle and probably one of the weakest endings I have ever seen in a comic book. I mean this ending was weaker than Alan Moore's WATCHMEN and that is saying something because as much as I loved that story the last issue was a complete cop out.

Words fail me on how disappointed I was with this issue. I had a feeling that the book was going to end badly, but I had no idea that my premonition would come to pass. The action was useless, the dialogue was terrible and once again Superman comes off as a spiteful, one dimensional character who is, apparently, a jealous husband to boot. I can't think of one thing that I liked about the book.

(Here is where I could be a complete smart aleck and say that there was one thing I liked and that was the book ended, but even after it ended the frustration didn't leave, so I can't even say that.)

Where to begin?

It is hard to enjoy a book when the main thrust of the story is the hero killing a bunch of commandos in a construction site. Okay, if this was a Punisher story I would enjoy it because the man's name is the Punisher, so you would expect some killing, especially in the final chapter. This isn't the Punisher, though. It's the Question, a character who may walk a darker path, but doesn't strike me as one who would commit wholesale murder. I'm not going to get into the whole "Should a hero kill?" debate because I really don't know how I feel about that, but when the killing is gratuitous and has no bearing on the story (and isn't fun, because let's face it sometimes the protagonist mowing down a bunch of people, especially if they deserve it like in SIN CITY, can be a romp) then there is no reason to do it.

I mean we went through a whole series where Rick Veitch tried to convince us how enlightened the Question is and what freaky powers he has to "talk" to the city and how he can see the Chi energy of the world and how this energy can be corrupted and what does the Question do in the final issue? He wipes out everybody (except for the Subterraneans on the Ghost Train whom I believe killed themselves as part of their orders) and dumps most of them into concrete so that their spirits and corpses will be trapped there forever. Because that would be fantastic for the city's Chi to have the trapped souls to muddy up the mystical waters.

You could argue that if they deserved it then their souls wouldn't matter because the city wanted them dead, but that doesn't wash with me. Neither does the Question's rational that he wanted to sabotage Luthor's device or the fact that their deaths would set Six True Words' soul free. Sure, a woman who, from what we have been told, lived a life of peace and not wanting to hurt another living creature would love to have people killed in her name. Her attack on Van Vliet made absolutely no sense since she had to know that the Question would have killed him too.

The fight with the Subterraneans was horribly paced. The action was erratic and I hated the Question using the equipment at the site as weapons. There was no dramatic tension and the whole fight really left me feeling like it could have been so much better.

I also disliked the fact that the one person I liked the most in the whole series, Minos, was killed in such a silly manner. I bought the fact that the Question could walk in two worlds. I didn't like it and thought it was silly, but I bought it because the story to this point had its own sense of internal consistency. This issue the Question goes from wanna-be shaman to almost Jedi Master where he can use the Chi to make people believe they are seeing something they aren't so they can back up and fall off a building. That was bad enough, but when he was able to make Minos take his men over to the shed that stores the explosives I thought that Veitch had crossed a line. I was half expecting to see the Question wave his hand in front of Van Vliet's face and tell him that these aren't the droids he's looking for.

Speaking of Van Vliet was it me or was that about the lousiest end to a villain that has ever graced the comic's page? Well, maybe not the worst, but drowning in a pool of concrete, which is such an easy substance to work with as a liquid, has to suck. Not just for the person being put into the concrete, but for us as well.

Then there was the revelation that Psychopomp hasn't been Psychopomp since the first issue and it was really the Question in disguise. What a crock. I mean why put all of the effort to introduce the character in the first issue and set the audience up for a final confrontation between the two if you aren't going to do it?

The main gripe I had with this issue was Veitch's continual horrid portrayal of Superman as a character. I've gone into detail about this in past reviews, so I won't go through that bit of business here, but I believe this issue had the absolute worse characterization of the whole series. This is the first time we have Superman in the book where you can actually clearly see the Man of Steel and his initial appearance in the issue he comes off as arrogant and dismissive to the police who appear somewhat incompetent, or at least to me they did. Then he flies off to search for the Ghost Train and as he makes his way through the cars a newscast from Vic Sage plays out, which seems to only be there to end it with the fact that all of this happened under Superman's nose, which struck me as a chance for Veitch to make his hero look good by making Superman look bad.

Then after the Question reveals himself it is inferred that if the Question had not interfered Superman would not have been able to stop Luthor. The line "Is that so? Well, I always keep an eye out for Luthor's schemes," makes Superman look foolish. It comes off as uncharacteristically arrogant for Superman, which I didn't care for. Also, how many times has Superman defeated Lex Luthor's plans in the past. To top it all off he comes off as a jealous husband at the end when the Question, for whatever reason, tries to get Superman to tell Lois how he feels about her. It's as if Superman didn't like him and his methods to begin with, but get's really mad when he starts talking about Lois.


I say again, ugh.

All in all this was a fairly pointless series with a couple bright moments. The fact that we go back to the train, which for some reason has the exact same passengers it did before, including that annoying little kid. The Question is not dealt with as a solid character throughout the series. It seemed at times that he is more concerned with his crush on Lois Lane than doing the job at hand. I can appreciate what Veitch was trying to do with the series and the character. It comes down to the simple fact that I didn't like it.

I didn't like the plot (which was James Bond meets Bad Marvel Movie) most of the characters and the whole Chi thing left me cold. I'm sure there are people out there who really enjoyed this series and accepted Veitch's extrapolation of what the Question could do. I'm sure that those people liked this series and they are more than welcome to their opinions. That's fine. I didn't and I am really glad that the whole "Superstorm" concept never got off the ground if it was going to be Rick Veitch and Brian Azzarello playing with a really inane concept over several books.

I'm going to file this story under "Doesn't Really Matter" as far as how it fits into the overall continuity. But maybe that's just me.

3Art - 3: Was it me or did Tommy Lee Edwards take stills of Christopher Reeve as Superman and just re-draw them to fit the art in this issue? Go back and look, every time Superman looks good in the shot it is a swipe from one of the movies. A few examples include:

Page sixteen: Superman walks through the Ghost Train. The first, third and fourth panel look like the deleted scene in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE where Luthor tests Superman's invulnerability.

Page eighteen: The first two panels are obviously Reeve inspired. The third panel where Superman has his arms folded looks like several shots from SUPERMAN II when Superman was in the Fortress of Solitude.

Page nineteen: The fourth panel looks like the scene from SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE where Superman pushes the boulder to start the rockslide to create the dam to stop the flood.

In fact, any time Superman looks good in this issue it is when Edwards is drawing the character to look like Reeve. But there is a difference between having a character look somewhat like an actor who played it and having it be a direct copy of the actor. I wanted to see how Edwards would have drawn the character in his own way, like his interpretation of the Question. Maybe this is how he sees Superman, but it seems like a cop out and a cheat.

Other than that the art was pretty sub-par. This was not Edwards' best effort in the series and the fact that this was the last issue makes it worse because you would think that the artist would try to get the art looking better with each issue. Maybe that's just me. I don't know what was going on at the time. Maybe Edwards lost interest. I'm not an artist so I have no idea what it takes to actually produce a whole comic book worth of art.

Overall a disappointing issue as far as the art goes. The action scenes were slow and I can't get past the Reeve swipes.

As I wrote in the story review, ugh.

2Cover Art - 2: This would have been a more interesting cover if all of the elements hadn't been played out before. Minos looks good, as does the Question, but Superman is extremely sketchy. Outside of the words "The Shocking Conclusion!" this cover doesn't say much. This is, without a doubt, the weakest cover of the series and I really don't see how a buyer would want to purchase this comic if he or she just saw it sitting on the rack.

This cover gets a very low three out of ten on the 2005 Edition 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.

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