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Losing Face | The Question: Peacemaker TPB Review

Written by  Published January 27, 2014 06:34
Without a doubt Steve Ditko is my favorite comic artist of all time. His beautiful work displaying bold emotional tones and his characters made of heart and virtue have been fixtures of my pull list decade after decade. Throughout the years from Romita’s Spider-Man to Liefeld’s Hawk and Dove there have been few arcs worthy of Ditko himself. Yet characters Blue Beetle, Question, Creeper and Doctor Strange have endured primarily in hopes of rediscovering the spark that put them on top. While Ditko himself is not doing mainstream comics (duh) his legacy is felt every single time someone thwips their hands in a Spidey formation. (Admit it you just made the two fingers to palm motion) Throughout these variations and story arcs I mentioned no character has been harder to nail down than the Question. The faceless Vic Sage fully convinced that there is a shadow cabinet behind every door, the standard crime fighting reporter, the conspiracy theory buff obsessed with showing all things are connected – these have all been feature points of The Question’s hit and miss past. To me all criteria for a good Question story are found in Ditko’s creation of him and subsequent run. But I read them all. So when I saw Peacemaker in the trade paperback super sale right here on eXpertComics.com I thought to myself, “Self, for this price I can take a chance and reread this.” I ordered it and read it. Says here you guys are due a review. So let’s get this monkey smoking…  

 

So in case you didn’t know…..

From Wikipedia,

“The Question (Vic Sage) is a fictional masked crimefighter that appears in comic books published by DC Comics, created by writer-artist Steve Ditko, and debuting in Charlton Comics Blue Beetle #1 (June 1967). The character was acquired by DC Comics in the early 1980s and incorporated into the DC Universe. Following the events of the 2006–2007 miniseries 52, his protégé Renee Montoya took up his mantle and became his successor.

As conceived by Ditko, the Question was an adherent of Objectivism during his career as a minor Charlton hero, much like Ditko's earlier creation, Mr. A. In a 1987–1990 solo series from DC, the character developed a Zen-like philosophy.”

damm5THE QUESTION: Peacemaker

Story: Dennis O’Neil

Pencils/Original Covers: Denys Cowan

Inks: Malcom Jones III/ Carlos Garzon

Colors: Tatjana Wood

Letters: Willie Schubert

Synopsis …from the eXPertComics.com store

The neighborhood of Hells Acres has been scheduled for demolition in this new title collecting THE QUESTION #31-36. One of The Questions companions has been kidnapped and brought there, but even if he can rescue her, can he stop a crooked judge out to silence him forever? 

The Breakdown

Story – Dennis O’Neil is one of my favorite Batman authors because he damm6understands that urban and grit does not mean depressing and glum. With a deftness few Question writers ever achieve O’Neil has crafted an intricate story full of strong personalities and made a full blown cast seem alive in the most mundane of places for a superhero. Offices, lobbies, sidewalks and living rooms full of people drive the extensive narrative in a manner reminiscent of Ditko himself (House of Mystery being the one that comes to mind right off the bat.)

While there are tonal elements to his epic and defining Azreal run the similarities stop shortly after. O’Neil manages to find a distinct and balanced Question hidden somewhere between Batman’s virtuous heart and Azreal’s more zealous stance.

Vic Sage however never transcends larger than life as hero – all the action takes place in his normal life in his own neighborhoods and he is the faceless angel in the night seeking truth. In short O’Neil exceeds expectations and captures the mysterious likable vigilante righteous and angry but honorable.

Characterization, story structure and plot on this book are nearly flawless but there are flaws in pacing and in dialogue. While the multiple pages of office interiors, press conferences and crime scenes are part of the glory of this book there were several places where they were simply so long they killed the momentum. Reading became tedious because the dialogue simply broke down. Over explanation and mild camp meant to be in homage to Ditko’s original, echo hollow and come off as ridiculous at points.

 

damm8

 

Art – This book was a joy to read but also a challenge. Ditko’s version of the Question’s art style is the key to telling the best Question tales Here Denys Cowan was a brilliant choice because his strongest suit again like Ditko’s is storytelling. This makes even the most benign panels interesting if done well and here it most certainly is.

damm3When Ditko envisioned the character it was said he was going for a more minimalist approach which went beyond the Question’s superhero disguise of no face and a trench coat. As such the walls, couches, carpets and decor are all done in this minimalist fashion while driving the story silently almost invisibly on until the giant action sequences in this trade.

However the genius of this approach bites the story in conjunction with the dialog and the pacing laid down by O’Neil because I found myself going through the same panels over and over trying to determine what was going on. Usually these were scene transitions or the first few panels of the action sequences but it was distracting and I found that sometimes the attempts at minimalization felt rushed and overly simplified…even for the style.

The Verdict

Peacemaker is a brilliantly conceived piece of storytelling that falls flat in the execution from time to time but is worth both the money and the read. Filled with deep plots, intrigue and gritty common sense there is plenty of action to keep the most rabid of fans happy…if they can decipher the weaker parts and survive the tedium of the lulls.

5 out of 7 X’s

Steve DAMM

DAMM is the proud father of two beautiful daughters. As one of ENR's founders and passionate comics' lover, he is committed to bringing you fair but passionate reviews as well as breaking news without the overreaction. A Colorado born curmudgeon, comic purist and pop culture crusader, he's on a mission to make new readers aware of the legends who came before in an in-depth way, how they changed comics and why the Silver Age is the most important era to modern American art (comic, commercial & fine). His opinionated style and audacious boldness making him a must read. As a reviewer, opinion columnist and con reporter his objective is the acquisition of truth, justice and the American comic book way, though he's been known to pursue foreign comics voraciously too. A champion for the creator-owned, a proponent for Indies and intolerant of towing corporate lines DAMM brings praise to those who deserve it and lays out the bad news without pretention.

Last modified on Monday, 06 April 2015 12:49
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