Story Title: The Devil’s In the Details: Part 4 Inside Out
Reviewer: Paul Sebert
Writer: Rick Veitch
Art & Color: Tommy Lee Edwards
Lettering: John Workman
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Created by Steve Ditko for the now defunct Charlton Comics as a bastion of Randian Objectivism The Question has always been one of the quirkier characters in the history of comics, thanks in no small part to his brilliant, yet eccentric creator. The Question would vanish mysteriously when Charlton comics canceled it’s superhero line in 1968. Charlton would stick around for awhile publishing comics based on Hannah Barbera cartoons but would finally close it’s doors in 1985.
DC buy the rights to Charlton’s superhero properties and as soon as you can say “Crisis” newly revised versions of their Charlton Heroes such as Captain Atom and the Blue Beetle would be rubbing shoulders with the Justice League. The Question and his fellow Charlton characters would also serve as the inspiration for Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Finally in 1987 The Question would make his grand return in a new series. Re-imagined by the legendary Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan The Question would drop Objectivism in favor of Zen philosophy and learned a bit of martial arts along the way from the likes of none other than Lady Shiva and Richard Dragon before . The series would last until 1990, when due to time constraints it was changed into a short-lived quarterly title. Since then Vic Sage would have a number of guest appearances and a mini-series or two but has alas sadly remained under the radar of comics fans. Most recently he’s appeared in an episode of Justice League Unlimited, which re-imagined Sage as crime fighting conspiracy theory enthusiast who makes Fox Mulder seem down to earth.
Now The Question has returned in a new mini-series by written by Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards which presents what may very well be the most bizarre incarnation of the character to ever walk the pages of comics. Muttering strange bits of Zen poetry to himself, The Question seems to see and inhabit a world that we mortal comic readers are completely unaware of. Oh occasionally we get glimpses into the character’s mind, but for most part just what Sage is really thinking is clouded from the reader in a sea of enigmatic prose. In this issue it’s suggested that The Question’s been experimenting with psychotropic vision questions, and it’s revealed that he wears a lead lined mask to protect his identity from Superman’s X-Ray Vision. That takes serious dedication to one’s craft.
The plot of this mini-series is such an intricately wound series of threads that would make Christopher Priest proud. The Question has wandered his way to Metropolis after he hears the city calling out to him, and thus investigates what appears to be a incredibly elaborate plot on the life of the Superman, involving a ghost train filled with underground gangsters and a mob hitman/shaman who targets people in the afterlife, and Lex Luthor’s newest piece of architecture The Science Spire, a building which most certainly can not be up to any good. How evil is this building? Well not only has Lex crazy Feng Sui expert as an advisor in it’s construction, but it’s also built over shipwreck that buried over almost four hundred slaves. Yeah that’s one evil building in the making.
Artist Tommy Lee Edwards puts in what may very well prove to be a truly star making performance mixing in elements of Alex Maleev’s work on Daredevil with more surreal elements not unlike David Mack’s art on Kabuki. Each page is stunningly colored and intricately penciled.
Flaw wise well… to be honest DC could have almost slapped an Elseworld on this book and no-one would have noticed. Luthor-side plot blatantly ignores anything that’s happened in the DCU in the last four years, and I know for a fact that Steve Ditko purists are going to hate this book with a vengeance.
And you know what?
I don’t really care. But you might, so be forewarned.