Thursday, March 27, 2008

Questionable content

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I've just recently finished up DC Comics' series 52, and have now developed something of an obsession with one of Gotham City's lesser-known detectives, the faceless vigilante known as The Question.

Created by Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man) for the now-defunct Charlton Comics, The Question has an undeniably cool look. Reminiscent of The Blank, a Dick Tracy villain, The Question had a unique way of changing from his civilian identity of Vic Sage to his crimefighter persona: The mask would pop out of his belt buckle, and at the same time Sage would release a "binary gas" that would change both the color of his hair and his suit (both specially treated to react to the gas).

After Charlton folded, The Question and the company's other big properties (Captain Atom, The Blue Beetle, and others) were bought by DC Comics. Upon arrival, the Charlton characters played roles in the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths, but the biggest splash they made was after they were Captain Ersatzed and dropped into Alan Moore's hands to make the seminal series Watchmen. The Question is an easy spot (har-har) in the book, having been transformed into the vigilante Rorschach.

The Question has been a persistent presence in the DC Universe since then, with a few stabs at his own series, and guest starring in other books (for all of the obsessive details of his career, this is probably the best place to look).

So what is it about The Question that has a hold on me? Certainly I love the look. I've always been more of a fan of heroes wearing actual clothing as opposed to the usual longjohns. He also had this "Zen detective" thing going on in his DC incarnation, which he passed on to his successor (as opposed to the Randian Objectivist that he started out as, which I'm not so much the fan of).

Oh, yeah, he has a successor. Picked one out when he found out he was dying of lung cancer. It was attributed to a love of cigarettes, but funny how nobody entertains the possibility that a gas that can change your hair color might also prove to be carcinogenic...

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