In early 1987, DC Comics released the first monthly issue of The Question, a mysterious crimefighter that not many comic book readers knew much about, let alone recognized.
Those readers could be forgiven for their naiveté.
The Question had no-face for starters and was polarizing in his objectivist philosophies towards crime. Although created by Steve Ditko, the artist who would bring to life and make famous Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Peacemaker, the Question only showed up as a backup feature in a few issues of the Charlton Comics Blue Beetle title and then in a handful of appearances within the pages of the short-lived Mysterious Suspense comic book series during the late 1960’s.
In the late 1980’s, the Question was also new to the DC Comics universe and that company’s group of readers after the publishing giant bought the character, among a number of others literary assets, from the defunct Charlston Comics a few years earlier.
Under the pen, pencil and direction of legendary fan favourite creators, writer Denny O’Neil and artist Denys Cowan, DC did the unthinkable. On the last page of the first issue of the brand-new monthly series, O’Neil and Cowan effectively killed the main character.
It was absolutely shocking to readers. But not only were they eagerly back for the second issue in order to find out what would happen next, they were hooked for life.
The Question became an instant hit and a forever-favourite character and series for those that experienced it on a monthly basis over three years and thirty-six issues plus two annuals during 1987-1990. A six-part trade paperback collection published from 2007-2010 brought new readers aboard while old readers reminisced the glory of the series. Still, everyone was waiting for the respect (and wonderful shelf-porn visual) that a handsome hardcover omnibus format lends.
Today, those who have been waiting patiently finally get their longtime wish.
Although it might be a steep price for some, at approximately $100, The Question Omnibus Vol. 1 by Dennis O’Neil and Denys Cowan is well worth your hard-earned money. This first hardcover book in what looks to have a second volume waiting in the wings, covers the first twenty-seven issues of the series along with the first annual and the thematically corresponding Green Arrow Annual #1 and Detective Comics Annual #1.
Here is the story of Vic Sage, AKA the Question, and his search for identity among an ensemble cast of deeply fleshed out and diverse characters, played up against the backdrop of crime-riddled and politically corrupt Hub City. O’Neil and Cowan may have killed Sage by the end of that first issue, but it was a necessary step to birth the man who would become so endeared by readers across the globe over the following decades.
At a weighty and wonderful 952-pages, The Question Omnibus Vol. 1 also includes the legendary “The Answer…” monthly fan letter column where so much important and relevant discourse was regularly published at the back of every issue of the series. I know this writer was a regular and thoughtful reader of that column which also included Denny O’Neil’s much anticipated “Recommended Reading List”. This was a regular listing of books that inspired and/or informed the writer and the philosophical points behind each monthly issue of The Question. They were an important resource or appendix to the larger story that was being told. Some examples of recommended literature included Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, Movements of Magic: The Spirit of Tai Chi Chuan by Bob Klein and Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.
Book lovers could really fill up their time and broaden their interests if they were checking O’Neil’s offerings off each month!
Biff Bam Pop! has, of course, opined on The Question before. If you want to know a little more about the series and its significance, you can read about it here and here or check out the video below.
But you can check off your own recommended reading list by making the run to your local comic bookshop or better bookstore today and picking up the seminal, revered, acclaimed and absolutely wonderful The Question Omnibus Vol. 1.
All of your answers will, assuredly, be found within those great pages!