[intro-text size=”25px”]The Question has always been a personal favorite of mine. Brainchild of creator Steve Ditko, the Question’s first alter-ego was Vic Sage, a misanthropic news reporter. By night, he fought the very injustices he covered on the air. Eventually, Vic Sage was diagnosed with lung cancer and picked former Gotham City detective, Renee Montoya, as his successor. That was until Flashpoint occurred. [/intro-text]
The storyline wiped out all previous continuity of the character, as well as Renee Montoya in entirety. She hasn’t been back since the 2011 relaunch that Flashpoint ushered in. So how does she have an issue out this week, and better yet, how is this the pick of the week? Good question.
The latest crossover event in DC, Convergence, selects characters and storylines regardless of the years that have passed or various timelines that have since been erased. The story reveals that these refugees have been cut off from the rest of the world, trapped in domed, pocket-universes—just your typical mad alien despot behavior, you know. Like an ant farm turned on its side, the captives are now escaping into a much larger world than they thought was possible.
What is so interesting about this story narrative is not only our sudden return to Renee Montoya, but the timing. This issue was a walk down memory lane with writer Greg Rucka and artist Cully Hamner, the same creative team with which we last left the series. It jumps back into the Question’s world mere moments after we last saw her in 2011 with the story right where we left it, which was a great place to be. Renee Montoya was one of the first openly gay female characters in comics. When her dynamic, yet ultimately doomed, relationship with Batwoman fizzled out, the two still had to crack heads in the Gotham slums together—and you thought seeing your ex at the mall was awkward.
Since their world has been bottled, many of the survivors have resorted to looting. Armed militias and gangs fight for territory. And because this is the Question’s pocket-universe, the rest of the DC Comics superheroes aren’t coming to save the day. This adds for an interesting dynamic where we see a world that is no longer as black and white as some simplistic comic narratives would have us imagine. The Question is forced to make deals with the lesser of two evils, Two-Face, who opens the issue in the midst of a pharmacy break-in. Always soft on Renee, he does so only to recover critical medicine that she needs for her dying father. There are no spandex-clad villains or monsters here, only conflicted emotions and the consequences of the human condition when squared against basic survival.
Death is a significant theme in this issue. Looking over her father, Renee wonders what she is holding on to. Playing a poignant counterpoint to Renee’s stubborn optimism, Two-Face begs the question, why not just “let go” and surrender to the destructive compulsions of the world around them. She is left to question why we fight to survive in such dismal existences. Much like in real life, this issue offers no easy answer for Renee. Sometimes we scrape and claw for survival just to be forgotten by all our tomorrows. We imagine our ever struggle as testament to the summits of human achievement or failure to find we were only ever bugs on display in a mad child’s jar. The question is how we choose to live our lives despite the unpredictable chaos that crashes down around all of us like an impenetrable dome.
That answer is The Question.