The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage by Jeff Lemire

details
Title: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage.
Writer(s): Jeff Lemire.
Penciler(s): Denys Cowan.
Inker(s): Bill Sienkiewicz.
Colourist(s): Chris Sotomayor.
Letterer(s): Willie Schubert.
PublisherDC Black Label.

Format
: Hardcover.
Release Date: November 24th, 2020.
Pages: 200.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781779505583.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

thoughts

The two opposing and eternal forces of good and evil have rarely been understood without a divide among mortals. There are many ways for one to determine if they are prone towards one or another but there is no guarantee that they will not tilt into the other domain at a moment’s notice. Sometimes you look at the means, sometimes you look at the ends, but always is the intention crucial to grasp one’s tendency towards good or evil. The Question is one hero who is convinced that he knows the distinction between both, that he champions the way towards good, that is, until he’s sent down a rabbit hole. Collecting all four issues, Eisner-winning writer Jeff Lemire teams up with the legendary artistic powerhouse Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz to deliver a mystery surrounding the identity of Vic Sage and his alter-ego The Question.

What is The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage about? In the hopelessly corrupt Hub City, one faceless hero roams the streets looking to dish out justice and order to anyone embracing crime. When a conspiracy leads him to the depths of the city’s underbelly, he is suddenly pulled into an adventure beyond his understanding, sending him back in time to unravel past lives he might have had despite having no memory of them. Waging his war against evil, his journey brings him to delve into the complexity of good and evil, as well as to demystify the blurry line distinguishing one from the other. However, this sequence of tragic reincarnation has left him with more questions than answers but the real query lies in his ability to break free from this vicious cycle or not.

“There is good. There is evil. And if you’re unsure which side you stand on, then chances are it’s the wrong one.”

— Jeff Lemire

Writer Jeff Lemire achieves a truly unique and authentic take on the hero The Question through this four-part story. At its foundation, it is a heavily-focused noir mystery centered around politics and crime with a protagonist juggling two completely opposite personas, one completely public and transparent to the world and the other hidden in the shadows of the people. As the story progresses, the narrative drifts into a conscious-expanding quest gravitating around Vic Sage’s identity and history. It is especially during these later acts of the story that writer Jeff Lemire melds together various historical periods and explores adjacent genres, e.g. western. Although the narrative structure is flimsy towards the end, having trouble to properly take shape, it is the premise and the promise of resolution that makes this story engrossing.

Artist Denys Cowan brings to the table a rough and sketch-like artistic vision that works tremendously with this storyline. The unsure and undefined quality of his style stunningly reflects the hazy and blurred line between good and evil, subconsciously inviting readers to understand the difficulty of individuals to adopt a purely dichotomic view of the world. Inker Bill Sienkiewicz and colourist Chris Sotomayor also tap into this story’s tone to deliver the grim, dimmed, and shadow-heavy artwork. The use of black borders also easily engulfs the story in a darker atmosphere without much more effort than necessary, reminding readers of the darkness within and outside of The Question. Unfortunately, the final act rushes into a philosophical frenzy that strips the protagonist from getting the answers to the questions he craved so profoundly. In the end, this psychological odyssey leads to his ultimate transformation, a transformation that simply broadens the protagonist’s vision rather than destroy his perception of the world.

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage is a riveting yet puzzling genre-blending mystery centered around one man’s tale of self-discovery through conspiracy and moral uncertainty.


EXHIBITA
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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26 comments

  • Glad to hear you enjoyed this book. I’ve heard mixed things about it but your review is tempting me to pick it up. I really enjoyed Lemire’s Black Hammer and I was reading his Ascender comic monthly for a while. Outside of the Black Hammer universe, what other Lemire titles do you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s still pretty good, so if you’re curious enough, it’s worth trying out for yourself!

      I’ve been following a lot of his work myself and still have plenty to discover but I can definitely recommend his Vertigo Sweet Tooth series, his Gideon Falls series (which I believe you’re already going through), his Moon Knight trilogy is a must, his Descender/Ascender stuff is worth checking out (not done with it myself). Within the Black Hammer world, I just know his Doctor Star story was the best thing to come out of it hahah

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Lashaan. I was looking at Sweet Tooth the other day and thinking about buying the first volume, so thanks for the rec. I read his run on Moon Knight and really liked it. I was reading Gideon Falls but stopped around #17. A weird, creepy story with some stunning art. I want to get the trades for the end of that run. YES to Doctor Star. I found it surprisingly moving😭

        Liked by 1 person

  • Was this an existing character, or one introduced in this story? His blank mask brought to mind Rorschach from The Watchmen, even though his mask wasn’t blank. Perhaps it was the mask and coat combo. I do light the cover illustration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah that’s because Alan Moore based his Rorschach character off of the Question and Mr. A! 😛 The Question isn’t new at all but I’ve never read a story where he’s the protagonist though. He’s often a side character and he’s not always a “he” as Renee Montoya of the GCPD takes up the mantle at some point too! 😀

      Like

  • So, solid beginning and weak ending? I do need to read something by Lemire, but it seems it won’t be this one! I like the cover, though – reminds me of an unknown child of Moonknight and Shadow 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  • The Question was always one of my favourite superheroes and I think he’s the perfect character to explore the blurred lines between good and evil. It’s a shame that the final act takes away from the cohesiveness of the story cause otherwise this sounds like a great read.

    P.S. can we start a petition to get The Question his own film/TV show?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Despite its flaws, it’s still a fantastic story giving The Question due screen time on the comic book front! I’m with you. They need to give this character a movie/series! His world makes it PERFECT for movies/tv show. They could even go with Rene Montoya instead of Vic Sage, connecting it to the upcoming The Batman GCPD spin-off series!!!!

      Like

  • I feel like this could have hit a grand slam if the interior art matched the cover, or maybe even added a star? 🤔

    “two completely opposite personas, one completely public and transparent to the world and the other hidden in the shadows of the people” – it’s always an interesting concept for a story and reminds me of Mr. Robot in a way. Did the ending feel forced?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is indeed a bit rare that the cover art matches the interior art but sometimes it’s not enough to make the story any better 😀

      Hahah excellent analogy to Mr. Robot. A helluva show right there. I did feel like the final season had a deflated exit…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, that’s unfortunate and kind of the reason endings don’t weight a lot for me, at least. 😀 I do appreciate what you said and sounds like he needed to lay down a couple more cards than he hadin his hand, haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  • Hm, I was quite looking forward to this and liked the visual look. Shame it doesn’t quite come together and the narrative, as you say, becomes flimsy resulting in a disappointing final act – something that seems to happen all too often in comics. Great review anyway my good man, I’ll check this out eventually along with the classic Denny O’Neil stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a great concept with a mesmerizing artistic vision to it that will surely fascinate you but I can’t call it perfect, unfortunately. I do hope you get to try it out soon and that you see for yourself what Jeff Lemire had to offer for the hero here, Chris! Thanks for reading! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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