Tag Archives: denys cowan

Review: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3

THE QUESTION: THE DEATHS OF VIC SAGE #3

After a five-month hiatus, The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3 returns the series with an issue that would make the late Denny O’Neil proud. Jeff Lemire, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor expertly combine a 1940s film noir story with the not-so-zen cycle of death and regeneration that Charles Szasz/Vic Sage/The Question has been on over the previous three issues. The genre story with an O’Neil-esque social conscience plus growing conspiracy and mysterious ending is a winning formula to go with Cowan, Sienkiewicz, and Sotomayor’s scratchy, impressionistic visuals. Even though these scripts and maybe even pages were banked long before the current conflict between activists and the police over their murder of Black people and general abuse of power, The Question #3 fits into the zeitgeist with a sequence of corrupt Hub City cops beating striking factory workers and protecting the easy, exploitative lives of Hub’s one percenters. In the past, I may have said that Hub City symbolizes the American id, but it’s a mirror to American reality with period piece trappings like Dashiell Hammett narration, panels of old newspapers whispering about another world war and featuring Golden Age crime fighters, and lots of close-ups of alcoholic beverages. The sleazy Howard Chaykin-esque (He draws this issue’s variant cover) supporting figures add to this feeling of dirtiness and depravity.

Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor have done the 1980s urban vigilante (Watchmen, Dark Knight, the O’Neil/Cowan Question run) and Western genres in the previous two issues of The Question and dig into the noir detective story in The Question #3. It’s evident that all three artists are having fun with lots of spot blacks, eye-catching visual flourishes like the red hair of Sage’s client, Maggie Fuller, and the all-important chiarascuro lighting from desk lamps and cigarettes. The Question is stylish and filled with verbal/visual irony like when Sage monologues about getting close to solving the case while some union-busting toughs are sneaking up on him to beat him up. And though the story is set decades before The Question’s creation, the page is crammed full with signatures of the character, like smoke rings and investigation boards with string between them even if Sage is mostly unmasked for the comic’s duration.

The cherry on top is Jeff Lemire’s approach to dialogue and captions. One of things that I like about Lemire (And why Marvel, DC, Valiant etc. keep bringing him in to refresh their various intellectual properties.) is that he never gets in his own way and adapts his style to the genre or type or story that he’s writing in. This is why Black Hammer is so clever and superhero genre tour de force/world tour, and he transfers this over to The Question #3 bringing the 1940s to 2020 with the help of Willie Schubert’s typewriter lettering. His dialogue is tommy gun fast with Sage cutting to the quick of the situation until he gets knocked upside the head. But then Cowan and Sienkiewicz are there with the reminder that Sage’s mentor-in-the-shadows Richard Dragon is a martial arts master, and the tone shifts from Maltese Falcon to Enter the Dragon. They use the whole page to show Sage’s fluid fighting moves, which aren’t like your average “put up your dukes” private eye and are a good transition to get a glimpse at one of Vic Sage’s other lives/deaths.

THE QUESTION: THE DEATHS OF VIC SAGE #3

But The Question #3 isn’t merely an interesting genre exercise or visual masterclass. (The Denys Cowan/Bill Sienkiewicz pencil/ink process pages at the end make the extra money spent on this issue worth it and will look glorious in the magazine-size Black Label format.) It’s an ode to the violently socially conscious and anti-establishment of the late 1930s and early 1940s without the racial stereotypes of those Golden Age books. The plot of The Question #3 is Sage taking on basically a pro-bono missing person case, and that missing person just happens to be both a union organizer and the brother of another union organizer. Like he usually does, Sage thinks he connect everything to one big conspiracy, but with the shifting timelines and eternal corruption of the police force of Hub City, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Lemire and Cowan’s use of flashbacks isn’t confusing, but shows that there’s no simple answer to the problems that Vic Sage is facing. Because we’re still getting fucked over by corporations in 2020 like we are in the early 1940s. (If not more so thanks to a steady string of Republican and “centrist” Democrat heads of state.)

Like that infinitely memeable Alan Moore quote about conspiracies, Vic Sage’s faith that “everything is connected” as Jeff Lemire so aptly puts is a child’s blanket (Or prayer) in the face of a hurricane because, as Moore states, “the world is rudderless”. Lemire, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor show the loose and futile nature of Sage’s faith in underlying order through non-linear storytelling and a series of catastrophes to match the impressionist, scratchy art and muted palette. The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3 is the best issue of the series yet, and I’m excited to see how they put all the threads, timelines, Vic Sages, Questions, and questions in The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage‘s finale

Story: Jeff Lemire Pencils: Denys Cowan  Inks: Bill Sienkiewicz
Colors: Chris Sotomayor Letters: Willie Schubert
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.3 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Black Label provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleTFAWZeus Comics

Preview: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3

(W) Jeff Lemire (A/CA) Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz
In Shops: Jun 17, 2020
SRP: $6.99

DC BLACK LABEL AGES 17+
It’s 1941, and Hub City is on the brink of a world war…and private eye Charlie Sage is on the brink of unraveling an enormous conspiracy! If he could just get that mysterious dame in red to talk-and keep his kneecaps intact, what with that strike-busting muscle coming up behind him-then maybe, just maybe, he can break the terrible cycle that keeps leading him back, through the ages, to his own death… 8.5″ x 10.875″

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3

Preview: Vampirella (Vol. 5) #8

Vampirella (Vol. 5) #8

writer: Christopher Priest
artist: Giovanni Timpano, Ergün Gündüz
covers: Denys Cowan (A), Alitha Martinez (B), Mark Beachum (C), Afua Richardson “Surprise” Cover (D), Mai S. Cosplay (E), Fay Dalton (F), Guillem March (G), Ergün Gündüz (H)
Lucio Parrillo (RI), Denys Cowan (RI/BW), Mai S. Cosplay (RI/Virgin), Ergün Gündüz (RI/Virgin), Guillem March (RI/Virgin), Lucio Parrillo (RI/BW), Icon Edition Cover: Louis Small, Jr. (RI), Icon Edition Cover: Mark Beachum (RI), Lucio Parrillo CGC-Graded Cover
FC | 32 pages | Horror | $3.99 | Teen+

Remember our Free Comic Book Day preview, Vampirella #0? Want to know exactly what was going on there? The story comes full circle here, and you won’t want to miss it!Mysterious alien creatures secreted within the mountains of the British Virgin Islands capture Vampirella and transport her home to Drakulon just as Vampi’s best bud, Benny the Witch, is about to become a human sacrifice. Will Vampirella give up life on her home world to save yet another human? Will Benny be the guest of honor at a native barbecue?

Also This Issue:

Dynamite Entertainment commemorates the contributions of African American creators with a special set of variant covers from some of the industry’s top talent!

BANG! From Kindt, Torres, Kim, and Piekos Sells Out Before Release

The debut issue of the all-new, highly anticipated series BANG! by writer Matt Kindt, artist Wilfredo Torres, colorist Nayoung Kim, and letterer Nate Piekos has sold out ahead of its publication on February 19, 2020.

Dark Horse Comics has announced a second printing, featuring a cover by legendary comic book artist Denys Cowan.

Since the series was first teased last fall at New York Comic Con, buzz has been building for the high octane spy thriller. The series has already sparked interest from film studios for media adaptation.

Orders close for the second printing cover on February 10, 2020.

BANG!

Review: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2

Jeff Lemire, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor explore yet another “life” of The Question in The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2. The issue is mainly set in Hub City during the 1880s aka the Wild West. However, this isn’t some John Wayne redux. It probes deep into the racial violence that characterized this time period in the United States. The protagonist, Charlie (who later becomes the Western version of the Question) deals with the guilt of his actions during the Comanche War.

Sotomayor uses plenty of reds and blacks in his palette to contribute to the book’s bleak tone. It complements Sienkiewicz’s scratchy inks. I went back and glanced at The Question #1, and Cowan’s art style is utterly different. Empty spaces, bursts of violence, and shamanistic quests for meaning contrast with non-stop media commentary in the previous issue. Cowan still uses plenty of grids in the comic. However, their purpose seems to be to slow down and focus on pivotal moments in the story. An example is Charlie talking to some witch figure about a primal conflict between good and evil or his friend, Booker, about to be hung in a racially motivated, kangaroo court and not to simulate TV or smartphone screens. Cowan’s storytelling is impeccable. It’s easy to follow the action on the page while mentally trying to pull together Lemire’s reincarnation-driven plot.

The themes of rigid, Randian objectivism versus a more fluid zen Buddhist ideology continue in The Question #2. Lemire and Cowan have traded out philosophizing for gunslinging. (Lemire writes Charlie as super-reflective though.) For all its hallucinations and “deep” observations, the plot of the comic is about a man, who has done bad, making up for it by doing some good. It’s a white hat shooting a black hat, someone more tolerantly minded pitted against a racist.

The traditional Western with a bit of political commentary baked-in part of The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 resonated with me stronger than the part of the story where he’s seen as more of an archetypal figure. Yes, it’s a great plot device on Jeff Lemire’s part. It allows Cowan, Sienkiewicz, and Sotomayor depict the Question and his ideology in different eras. However, it’s not as memorable as Charlie riding back to his old town in the twilight reminiscing on his genocidal past and how he is going to avenge a good man and his wife. The process page in the back of the comic shows how much black spot inking Sienkiewicz added to Cowan’s pencils. Chris Sotomayor’s rusty palette show that Charlie’s return isn’t triumphant, but a reckoning. He wants to kill the devil and find peace.

Jeff Lemire, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor use the creative freedom of the Black Label imprint to tell what is a damn fine dark Western with some mystical elements. They show how shitty the 1880s were with a loose, gruesome approach to the violence instead of something more stylized. In the bigger picture of the miniseries, it digs into Charlie/Vic/The Question’s identity a little bit more setting upcoming ideas and revelations as Lemire and Cowan continues to jump eras in both plot and visuals.

Story: Jeff Lemire Pencils: Denys Cowan  Inks: Bill Sienkiewicz
Colors: Chris Sotomayor Letters: Willie Schubert
Story: 7.8 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Black Label provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 (of 4)

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 (of 4)

(W) Jeff Lemire (A/CA) Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz
In Shops: Jan 15, 2020
SRP: $6.99

DC Black Label, Prestige Plus, 8.5″ x 10.875″
In modern-day Hub City, Vic Sage died. And then he woke up. In Hub City…in the 1800s! The legend of the Man with No Face rides across the Old West, discovering a shocking connection running through history all the way to the day he died…and pointing to more carnage yet to come!

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 (of 4)

Review: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1

DC Black Label branches out from Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn in the gritty and trippy The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1. With a dedication to both Question’s original creator Steve Ditko and his finest writer (Up to now) Dennis O’Neil, writer Jeff Lemire, artists Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz, and colorist Chris Sotomayor attempt to bridge the character’s portrayals as an Objectivist, who views the world in strict black and white terms and as an Eastern philosophy-influenced fighter of systemic evils, who donned the Question mask to right wrongs that newscaster Vic Sage couldn’t. They also craft the first chapter in one hell of a mystery. It features an art style that is far from the usual capes and tights.

Bringing back artists Cowan and Sienkiewicz from The Question’s original DC Comics series was a stroke of genius. It’s what initially got me interested in this series. Sienkiewicz’s scratchy inks and Cowan’s almost journalistic portrayal of human nature roots the first half of Question in the violent, yet ripped from the headlines crime stories that characterized the original run.

The comic opens up with Question muttering something straight out of a Mr. A strip or an Ayn Rand novel and catching a Hub City councilman in a brothel with underage girls. He knocks the creep about a little bit but is mostly concerned with recording footage for Vic Sage to play on the evening news where he openly accuses Hub City mayor Wesley Fermin of being connected to organized crime that leads to a lawsuit and more trouble. The sequence sets up Sage’s very public persona and role as the gadly, or voice of truth, in Hub City. That makes it necessary for him to wear face-warping masks courtesy of his old chemistry professor, Aristotle “Tot” Rodor.

However, this dual identity isn’t so simple. Lemire and Cowan play with the different sides of Question and Vic Sage’s personalities. They show that Question’s single-minded quest for justice sometimes makes him lose the big picture. An example is the police shooting of an unarmed man while he’s following a lead about a ring that was on both the councilman’s finger and the mayor’s lawyer’s. The Question is a skilled detective but his conspiracy-driven nature can blind him to the everyday issues of his city. Cowan, Sienkiewicz, and Sotomayor show this visually through a wavy line, lots of black ink, and a darker color palette. It culminates in Question’s discovery of a literal abyss and some surreal imagery where you can really see the Sienkiewicz influence shine through.

Thankfully, in the second half of The Question #1, Lemire and Cowan create the context for these images. It’s a departure from the crime fiction of the comic’s first act to something more mystical. Hence, Richard Dragon shows up with insight and potty mouth one-liners. (Think the Bride’s sensei in Kill Bill sans the misogyny and xenophobia.) From a big picture perspective, the conversation between Dragon and Sage also seems like a conversation between O’Neil and Ditko. The former taking Question into more of a zen Buddhism direction while Ditko used him as the avatar of his black and white view of the world. That was passed onto his creation Mr. A and Question’s spiritual offspring, Rorschach. (The nine panel grids and the use of “Hrrm” are a nod to that fellow.)

Richard Dragon believes that souls can travel between bodies while Question just wanted to learn martial arts to kick ass and is talking to his old teacher to solve a mystery steeped in symbolism, but connected to Hub City and its corruption. To take a page out of the German philosopher Hegel‘s book, Dragon is thesis, Question is antithesis, and they are a long way from synthesis. The last few pages introduce another wrinkle in the status quo in a natural non “Oh shit, we need a cliffhanger” way. Cowan makes fantastic use of recurring metronome motif to slip readers into another world. It’s like seeing a hypnotherapist as the story shifts in genre. His solid storytelling and well-placed use of six and nine-panel grids, as well as larger layouts, doesn’t waver.

The debut is steeped in the classic O’Neil and Cowan run as well as the ideology of Ditko. Lemire, Cowan, Sienkiewicz, and Sotomayor make sure The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1 isn’t a nostalgia-driven retread. In a current era where political corruption runs rampant, and the said corrupt don’t even try to sweep it under a rug, a character who isn’t afraid to speak truth to power is incredibly relevant. However, the Question also engages in Randian purity policing and has a primal, childish view of the world. He’s far from an inspirational figure. This is why Cowan and Sienkiewicz’s naturalistic, almost dirty art style is a good fit for the book. They and Lemire also aren’t afraid to get a little weird. I’m interested to see how they synthesize the various versions of the Question in both the spiritual and physical realms.

Story: Jeff Lemire Pencils: Denys Cowan  Inks: Bill Sienkiewicz
Colors: Chris Sotomayor Letters: Willie Schubert
Story: 8.9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Black Label provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1 Begins to Explore Vic Sage’s Past and Present

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1 (of 4)

Written by Jeff Lemire
Pencils by Denys Cowan
Inks by Bill Sienkiewicz
Colors by Chris Sotomayor
Lettering by Willie Schubert
Cover by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz
Variant Cover by Jeff Lemire and Marcelo Maiolo
In Shops: Nov 20, 2019
Final Orders Due: Oct 21, 2019
SRP: $6.99

The series will go through multiple time periods and explore aspects of Vic Sage’s past and present that have never been explored before. Combined with Bill Sienkiewicz’s inks and Chris Sotomayor’s deft color touch, this may be the best version of the Question yet.

–Denys Cowan

Vic Sage knows right from wrong. He knows black from white. But what happens when he is drawn into a conspiracy that reaches from the heights of Hub City power to the depths of its underground tunnels? What happens when things stop being black-and-white and start getting a little gray? And what happens when, in a secret chamber deep beneath the city, Vic Sage meets his own end…and his new beginning? Legendary artists Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz and letterer Willie Schubert return to The Question, alongside Eisner-winning writer Jeff Lemire and colorist Chris Sotomayor, to resurrect Vic Sage, only to destroy him all over again…and again…and again….

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage will carry an Ages 17+ content descriptor (for mature readers) and will ship bimonthly in DC’s Prestige Plus format. The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 hits shelves January 15, 2020.

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1 (of 4)

Preview: Ms. Tree Vol. 1

Ms. Tree Vol. 1

(W) Max Allan Collins (A) Terry Beatty (CA) Denys Cowan
In Shops: Sep 04, 2019
SRP: $24.99

The collected casebooks of famed ’80s private eye, Ms. Tree! The creation of award-winning crime writer Max Allan Collins and legendary pulp artist Terry Beatty, Ms. Tree was shocking in the ’80s and remains strongly relevant today. When her private detective husband is murdered by the Muerta crime family, Ms. Tree takes over the business – and his last case – as a cold, calculating, and tough as nails PI! This first volume collects five classic Ms. Tree stories, plus the rare Ms. Tree prose story “Inconvenience Store”.

Ms. Tree Vol. 1

DC Announces Joker: Killer Smile and The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage from DC Black Label this Fall

DC is adding two more thrilling stories to its lineup this fall with the introduction of two new miniseries— Joker: Killer Smile from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino available October 30, followed by The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage by Lemire and artists Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz to be released November 20.

In Joker: Killer Smile Lemire and Sorrentino will share their own interpretation of one of the darkest characters of the Batman mythos—the Joker. For years, the Joker has terrorized Gotham, facing off with Batman time and time again. But now he’s found a new adversary, one that can deliver him from the purgatory of Arkham Asylum and set his madness free once more—the very doctor tasked with treating him. As he gets his hooks deeper and deeper into the mind of his prey, Joker sets off a chain reaction of mayhem that will threaten to tear down not only Gotham City but the soul of this idealistic man, and his young family, too.

Joker: Killer Smile is a three-part story that will debut October 30, 2019, releasing every other month following.

Joker: Killer Smile

In The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage, Lemire, Cowan and Sienkiewicz launch a philosophical mystery starring Vic Sage—the Question. Building on the legacy of Dennis O’Neil and Cowan’s previous run, it begins in an early Hub City where an unsolved mystery has led to the demise of the Question—and history will soon repeat itself. Beginning in the Old West and continuing through the lawless 1930s, the answers needed to solve the problem are out of reach—and may doom the Question once again.

The faceless man who believes in absolutes will soon find himself in a world where it all blends together, and escaping this trap is the only way to set himself free.

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage is a four-part story that will debut November 20, 2019, releasing every other month following.

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage
« Older Entries