Tag Archives: the question: the deaths of vic sage

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Around the Tubes

Juliet Takes a Breath

Lots of interesting articles from over the weekend to help kick off the week. It was also Black Friday with today being Cyber Monday. What good deals are you all finding? Sound off in the comments. While you start the week, here’s news and reviews you might have missed.

The Hollywood Reporter – ‘Turtle in Paradise’ Graphic Novel in the Works at Random House – Very cool!

The Jerusalem Post – Italian Holocaust graphic novel trilogy debuts final installment – Hadn’t heard about this. Might need to check it out.

Sight Magazine – “Something to be proud of”: UK graphic novel highlights homeless – Great to see comics used this way.

How to Love Comics – Justice League: Endless Winter Reading Order Checklist – For those interested in the upcoming storyline.

Kotaku – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Vs. Jagmeet Singh At Among Us, Streamed Tonight – Very cool to see video games used like this, and congrats on all of the money raised.

Kotaku – Marvel’s Avengers Didn’t Sell As Expected, Says Square Enix – The game had some rough buzz going into it, so this isn’t a surprise at all.

Reviews

Comics Bulletin – Cat Kid Comic Club
The Nerd Daily – Dune: The Graphic Novel Book 1
Monkeys Fighting Robots – Juliet Takes a Breath
CBR – The Other History of the DC Universe #1
Games Radar – The Other History of the DC Universe #1
Collected Editions – The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage

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


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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

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)

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Undiscovered Country #3

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Bloodshot #5 (Valiant) – We’re excited for the movie and the new volume has been a lot of fun. Hop on the bandwagon now!

Green Lantern Legacy (DC Comics) – DC has been knocking it out of the park with their graphic novels for younger readers. We’re excited to see what this new takes on the Green Lantern myth is like.

Hellboy Winter Special 2019 (Dark Horse) – Hellboy is always a fun comic and the one-shot “winter specials” are always a good read to pick up and enjoy.

Iron Man 2020 #1 (Marvel) – Tony Stark is “dead” and Arno has taken over as Marvel looks to the rise of the robots in this mini-event to kick of 2020.

James Bond #2 (Dynamite Entertainment) – The first issue was good but odd as a James Bond story. Still, the theft of art is a new situation for the government agent and where this all goes has us interested in this one.

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – One of the best comics to come out of DC Black Label so far. It’s quality in both storytelling and art.

Rai #3 (Valiant) – This is one of the best new series out there right now. Each issue has been amazing.

Rising Sun #1 (IDW Publishing) – Another popular board game gets a comic adaptation. It’s always interesting to see what direction these go in. As board game fans, we’re excited.

Second Coming #6 (AHOY Comics) – The first volume wraps up in this smart look at religion and hero worship.

Undiscovered Country #3 (Image Comics) – The first two issues of this series have been a wild ride. We’re excited to find out more about this isolated future America and what it’s warped in to. This is going down the rabbit hole to find a Mad Max world of possibility.

Around the Tubes

Marauders #2

It’s a new week and we’re getting ready for the start of the holiday season but we’ve got a full week of news, reviews, and more! While we get ready for the week, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

iO9 – Josh Trank Reviews His Own Fantastic Four Film, Gives It a Generous Two Stars – Well, at least he’s being honest and critical of his own work.

Inverse – ‘Toys That Made Us’ Season 3 reunited the feuding TMNT creators. Here’s how – This is some interesting comic history.

Newsarama – Marvel’s First Braille Comic Inspired by Football Player with Blindness – This is very cool.

USA Today – First Marvel comic book, in rare near-mint condition, gets $1.26 million in Dallas auction – We didn’t win it.

Reviews

Monkeys Fighting Robots – Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze #1
AIPT – Marauders #2
Newsarama – Marauders #2
Newsarama – The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1

Around the Tubes

Batman #83

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d you all like? What’d you all dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

The Beat – UPDATED REPORT: Is Todd Phillips in talks for a JOKER sequel and other DC origin movies or not? – If there’s not a sequel discussion happening we’d be shocked. A billion dollars at the box office gets a follow-up.

Reviews

IGN – Batman #83
IGN – Deadpool #1
AIPT – Dial H for Hero #9
Talking Comics – Olympia #1
CBR – The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #1

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

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