If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards brilliant “Question” series, do so. It is fantastic.
Released in 2004, and often at the top of many a “needs to be reprinted” list, the book was released at a time when Vic Sage had not had a series to himself in nearly 15 years, which, admittedly, isn’t saying that much. His creator, Steve Ditko, only featured him intermittently in several Charlton books in the ‘60s, and Denny O’Neil’s ongoing in the ‘80s lasted a mere three years. Aside from those, this is one of a few series’ to have featured the character ever since, and always minis. Yet somehow the Question has endured for the last fifty years, appearing in cartoons, video games and live action TV, as well as being the template for Rorschach in Alan Moore’s celebrated series, Watchmen.
Still, the character’s track record for selling books is probably why DC made the decision to have this series take place in Metropolis, and have Superman and co. as guest stars. I ran across this series in some bargain bins recently, and was lucky enough to be able to find the entire set for a decent price (having never been reprinted, the mini can be sold for a pretty penny on eBay). Aside from being visually striking, I had heard good things about this series and really wanted to check it out. And of course, Superman appearances are always good too.
This series was tremendous fun. Rick Veitch, probably most famous for his work on Swamp Thing with the aforementioned Mr. Moore, actually turns in some great scripts here as a writer. Tommy Lee Edwards’ art is always great wherever found, and this may be the best I’ve ever seen- luscious colors, crazy layouts and almost psychedelic imagery flows through these pages without ever losing the reader. The setting of Metropolis, surprisingly, works extremely well as an urban, street-level crime story, and the character fits here perfectly. As crazy as that all sounds, it works! In a broad sense, everything is really comes together here.
The story itself also finds a creative way to blend the Question with Superman’s hometown. Vic Sage tracks a secret criminal organization to Metropolis which has gone to great lengths to operate under Superman’s nose for years (on a side note- is this where Bendis got his idea from?). They do so by literally hiding deep underground using the subways, sewers, and the like, which I found believable and at times, hilarious. As with most crime in Metropolis, Lex Luthor is again involved here, with Lois Lane- here revealed to be a one time journalism schoolmate of Sage’s- and Jimmy Olsen hot on their trail as well. Superman makes a few appearances here and there, with some pages even feeling like they’re an updated version of DC Comics Presents. Not a bad thing!
This mini is a unique concoction that proves that street level, bystander stories work just as well in Metropolis as in any other fictional place. The writer and artist also take their work seriously as a combination of character development, crime novel and pop art, which is epically cool. This book feels like a story that can only be told in comics, and doesn’t try to be storyboards for a future film or tv show, which I found refreshing for our day and age. I can’t speak to the faithfulness of Ditko’s vision, but I can tell you the plot is good, the art is good, and I thought the comic was good.
While this is definitely not a Superman story, per se, sometimes having another character guest star in his world is pretty cool too. If you feel like walking the streets of Metropolis and seeing everything from the ground level, check this story out.