The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1
Writer – Jeff Lemire; Pencils – Denys Cowan; Inks – Bill Sienkiewicz; Colors – Chris Sotomayor; Letters – Willie Schubert
Question–How is the new Question title? Answer–Pretty good.
Jeff Lemire, a true comic writing veteran, is helming the story for this iteration of Vic Sage’s The Question. The way Lemire writes Sage is a lot of fun. He feels a lot more like The Watchmen’s Rorschach, a character based on the original Question, than the version many people are more used to, the version in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon or the version from earlier DC comics. The way that he monologues is reminiscent of Rorschach from the original Watchman as well. He comes across as cruel and judgmental as opposed to quirky and goofy, traits that really do work here. To be clear, this book is dark, dealing with everything from child prostitution to satanic cults. That’s not to say it is corny though, because it is not. The book isn’t perfect; it can be a little hard to follow, somewhat slow moving, and a little self-serious, but it all comes together well to paint a picture of this character and his environment. The Question’s cliched lines could come across as lazy, but because of the expert way Lemire writes this character, these clichés seem more to show the reader what type of person Vic Sage is. As far as story is concerned, the greatest scenes are when Vic is out of costume and is instead working as a journalist. Given today’s hyper-partisan journalistic climate, having a hero that works as a reporter and goes after blatant corruption that is shown in detail to the audience is something any reader can get behind and cheer. All in all, it was an interesting first issue. That may not be the tightest hook, but it is enough to keep one reading to see where this story goes.
The art in this issue is fantastically unique. Cowan seems to be going for a very ‘sketched’ look for the art. DC’s Black Label has been really escalating their game, so this is not shocking, but welcome. This style is clear from the character designs and especially prominent with the motion lines, as well as the use of simple lines for shading and to give depth to the faces. It’s a more classical style that works well with the subject matter and really helps to highlight the environment Lemire is bringing to life. The smoke effects also look great, making a haunting transparency that is not commonly executed so well. Sienkiewicz and Sotomayor’s inks and colors respectively also make this book as aesthetically pleasing as it is. The book uses a lot of dark colors and backgrounds, the shades and lines looking almost like the team drew them with an old, leaky pen, making the shades and lines look and feel pulpy. It’s reminiscent of the Batman the Animated Series cartoon from the 90s, but aimed more at adults and with the darkness accomplished with a scalpel instead of a sword. It also looks significantly darker at night, often when the Question is out, which is may sound obvious, but is rarely done as well as it is here. The colors add nice depth too. The colors of scenes and backgrounds look good, but the knock-out punches are the subtle splashes of color on a cheek or an eye that add tremendous depth to a scene.
While the first issue is a little slow out of the gate, there is tremendous potential for this series.