Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

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Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Red_Robin » Dec 22nd, 2012, 5:41 pm

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The Question: Zen and Violence #1-3
By Harvey Bullock

Writer: Dennis O’Neil
Artist: Denys Cowen
Collects issues ~#1-#6 of The Question
There’s no denying it, The Question is most definitely my favourite comic book character of all time. I was initially introduced to the Question through the DCAU show Justice League Unlimited, and his character certainly intrigued me, little did I know however that the Vic Sage I knew in animated form was very different to the one that existed in the DC universe. Dennis O’Neil was certainly no stranger to reinvigorating characters; he’d transformed Batman from camp to dark to tremendous success, and now it was the Question’s turn.
The Question is an incredibly unique character, and his origin is also extremely unique. Whereas Bruce Wayne simply travels away and returns to Gotham the ultimate crime fighting machine, Sage travels, and ‘learns how to learn.’
Vic Sage (Charles Victor Szasz) is an investigative journalist and Broadcaster, who resides the crime ridden area known as Hub City, the most violent city in the United States, (even more than Gotham).
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD
Hub city, Friday, November 21, 10:45P.M: Charles Victor Szasz has exactly 25 hours and 15 minutes to live.


Issue 1

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The story picks up immediately with Vic stood outside a small shack, eavesdropping on the chatter of numerous thugs inside, with the soul intention of retrieving a cassette tape, by any means necessary.
Vic breaks the door down with his right leg, startling the men inside. The men aren’t initially intimidated by the Question’s entrance, with one of the thugs talking to his fellow men “Fellows. I don’t think he really, truly wants it, do you? Maybe you should convince him that he doesn’t want it.” Sage immediately thrusts his elbow into the man’s face, initiating a fight with the other men.
A women known as Lady Shiva observes Vic’s movements, watching closely as Sage dispatches each of the men quickly and efficiently. Vic then quickly speeds off to the studios of KBEL, a broadcasting news company situated in the center of Hub city.
He begins his news report on the corruption of the city, in particular targeting the Mayor, Lesley Fermin. Vic’s headstrong attitude isn’t liked by his colleagues, who order the broadcast to be cut, along with the tape Sage had acquired earlier on.
We then cut to the Mayor’s office, who has just been watching the broadcast. The mayor is joined by Lady Shiva, and a reverend, who appears to have more authority than the mayor does. The reverend orders Shiva to send Vic a ‘message’, although she appears quite reluctant to do so.
We are then shown just how arrogant Vic is, as his girlfriend Myra questions him with the possibility that someone could come after him, and he replies simply with “I’ll handle ‘em!”
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Soon later we are introduced to Tot, one of Vic’s old friends. He too is worried about Vic’s arrogance and over confidence, but still assists Vic in altering The Questions mask, which is slipping. Tot also begins to notice that Vic is changing, picking up on the fact that Vic has begun smoking again, after giving up shortly after he was expelled from University.
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We then cut to noon, where Sage is meeting up with an old friend called Moe, who supplies Vic with information critical to his endeavours. It is then shown that Moe used to be an old reporter, but years of living in the city has reduced him to nothing but a ‘whino’ according to an officer who tries assaulting Moe, before being dealt with by Sage. The officer is then shot by an unidentified individual, who Vic per sues, and later incapacitates after a scuffle. The man informs Sage that the bullet was actually meant for him.
On his way to the news station, Sage has a brief encounter with a man known as Reverend Hatch, a priest in the Hub City area, who is a close friend of the Mayor’s. He tells Vic that he has made it his “Business to know a Great deal about you.” To which Sage replies with. “I’ll bet.”As the Reverend addresses the city, we are shown a flashback to Vietnam, where it appears that the conflict has shaped the Reverend’s character severely.
We then cut to Moe again, who is receiving a tip off that a deal will take place “at pier 26”. As the informant Moe was talking to leaves the bar it is shown that he was in fact working for Lady Shiva, who is planning to use Moe to set a trap for Sage.
As Vic is told, it is shown that he has pre-empted that the deal is actually a set up, but plans on going anyway, against the wishes of Myra.
Its 10:45, as Vic dons the identity of the Question, only to find Lady Shiva. After a short exchange of words, the two begin to fight. Sage is completely incapable of taking on Shiva, as he finds out the hard way. After Vic simply can’t stand anymore, Shiva refuses to kill him, but does not stop the thugs under the command of the reverend from bludgeoning Sage with a lead pipe. The reverend then witnessing the events, orders the men to throw Sage into the bay.
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Down, down, into the freezing depths...a minute passes, two—ten...As the husk of what had been Charles Victor Szasz settles into the sand and is cold and silent and still...


Issue Two

Vic Sage is alive. Lady Shiva has rescued him and brought him to Tot where he has been making a slow recovery. It then appears as reports are surfacing of Vic Sage’s disappearance; the Reverend has uncovered the true identity of the Question. We once again cut to Vic, this time remembering fighting alongside Batman. Lady Shiva had patched Sage up and brought him to Tot, where it appears as though Shiva has left a note for Vic, instructing him to leave tomorrow. The lights go off, and Batman appears in the flesh, calling Vic an “Arrogant, incompetent dilettante,” claiming that the only reason that Vic is still alive is his luck. Just before Batman leaves, he parts with these few words “You can’t half do what you were doing. It’s got to be full time—your need, your obsession, the engine that drives you. It’s got to be who you are.”
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Vic departs from Tot’s house and boards a helicopter, bound for the renowned martial artist Richard Dragon’s estate. He tells Sage that he will help him learn “The way of the warrior.” Vic takes the fact that Dragon is now in a wheelchair as disappointment, to which Dragon replies with “Maybe learning from a cripple is the first lesson.”
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Even in Vic’s state Dragon’s teachings begin to show, with Sage performing very well. The two also begin to bond (although somewhat hilariously), with Vic ironically wondering “Just which of your bodily orifices I’ll eventually cram that wheelchair into.” The training starts to show, with Sage reaching his physical potential. Dragon tells Vic that his training is finished, and Vic now has a new receptive approach to life. O’Neil doesn't copy the already established formula of “Hero trains and learns to be indestructible,” Sage learns, how to learn. Even though his training may be over, his journey isn't. The character still has much to discover and tap into, both mentally and physically. Not just intellect, but psychologically, training his mind to function differently than it did before.
As Vic approaches the nearest town he is approached by Lady Shiva. They spa, and Vic holds his own considerably better than he did in their first encounter, showing the progress he has made. As Sage dons his attire, he realises “It feels right. These are the garments He should be wearing. Vic approaches the residence of the reverend, taking out all guards patrolling the area with ease, delivering one swift blow to the next.”
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We learn that the Reverend is planning on destroying a local school bus to intimidate the local bus company. As the reverend is left alone, he begins to hear someone sing the famous “Danny Boy” (a throwback to the end of issue 1). It gradually drives him to anger, screaming out “WHO IS THERE?” The Question appears, and startles the reverend, asking what The Question wants. “I want YOU reverend—I want you to pray...”
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Issue 3

Pray for an answer. Pray for enlightenment. Pray...


As Vic is intimidating the reverend, a womanly figure intrudes. As Vic realises it is Myra, he is taken by surprise as the Reverend attacks him. Sage counter acts my kicking him into the fire, before the Reverend leaps out of the windows. Myra assists Vic with his escape, and after evading the guards, Vic discovers that Myra is in-fact married to the Mayor. Not a marriage of love, as the Reverend threatened to harm a child she had at the local Orphanage.
Vic returns to Tot’s house to figure out which bus could be at jeopardy, and as he looks Sage finds the answer, deciding to look at the only School garage in the area. As Vic and Tot talk Tot mentions the change in Vic’s personality, saying that he’s “Quieter, less tense...Deeper somehow.” As Vic once again dons the attire of the Question he arrives at the Garage. Vic uncovers that he’s just missed the bus with the explosives present. As he approaches the bus, Sage notices a van that was present at the garage. Vic swerves in to the van and begins to fight with one of the men.
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The fight is short and brutal, but notices that the other man in the van is on top of the bus, arming the explosive. The Question leaps and manages to take the bomb away from the vicinity of the bus. As the Police arrive, the Question slowly fades away.
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The issue ends with Charles building a snowman with Myra’s daughter, in a particularly heart-felt scene.
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Even though I’ve only gone over the first three out of the six issues of the trade, I still think I can make my points (issue three has such a lovely ending as well). This book shows the extent of how deep and intense the character of Vic Sage is. The story itself is perfectly woven by Dennis O’Neil, and Denys Cowan’s artwork suits the style of the character. This is the book that made me love the Question, and if you haven’t read Zen and Violence, I can’t recommend enough for you to stop what you’re doing right now and pick it up. The series itself just gets better and better, especially once we reach the third volume. Zen and Violence does a perfect job of establishing Vic Sage as a character, and possesses a great story that’s easy to get into, while at the same time remaining deep and intelligent. If you’ve always been intrigued by the character of the Question, or just fancy reading some plain great story-telling, Zen and Violence is the book for you!
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby TheJester » Dec 23rd, 2012, 6:49 pm

Great read Harvey, congrats!

Vic Sage has always been a favourite of mine, and I think he's sorta become underrated in recent years. I hope he'll have a decent story arc soon.
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Harvey Bullock » Dec 23rd, 2012, 6:58 pm

TheJester wrote:Great read Harvey, congrats!

Vic Sage has always been a favourite of mine, and I think he's sorta become underrated in recent years. I hope he'll have a decent story arc soon.

Glad you enjoyed it! :D

We've had a brief glimpse of new 52 Sage, but it definitely is very different than Sage I knew. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are writing an issue (or two) involving Vic and Blue Beetle (out of continuity) and it looks great.

Definitely agree that there isn't enough love for Vic at the moment. He's such a fantastic character and certainly deserves a boost in popularity.
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby BobGun » Dec 23rd, 2012, 7:31 pm

Congrats Harvey, that's a great run you chose.

O'Neil is one of my all time favourites, and one of the main reasons why the 70's era of comics are the best. Always alot of great atmosphere and tone is his work.

You've got to love the "Eastwood" Batman of that time. That panel just screams of big Clint.
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Harvey Bullock » Dec 23rd, 2012, 8:15 pm

BobGun wrote:Congrats Harvey, that's a great run you chose.

O'Neil is one of my all time favourites, and one of the main reasons why the 70's era of comics are the best. Always alot of great atmosphere and tone is his work.

You've got to love the "Eastwood" Batman of that time. That panel just screams of big Clint.

I never thought of it that way before, but now that you mention it I totally see the resemblance. It's a shame that they haven't adapted Dark Knight Returns for film (Snyder wanted to do it a while back), because 10 years earlier Clint would have been my first pick for old Bruce.
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Jabels » Dec 24th, 2012, 2:20 am

Great read, Harv. Congrats!

The Big Blue Q has always been a deeply interesting (and sometimes hilarious) character to me, and O'Neil always seems to use the comic book medium to effectively hit the sweet spot between an intelligent detective novel and a fun action flick, no matter if it be with Batman, Question or Green Lantern/Green Arrow. Although I'm quite weary of Vic's Nu52 persona, I remain greatly intrigued in another reinvention of the character as every other interpretation has worked very well, whether it's Ditko's original Objectivist Detectivist, O'Neil's Philosophical Zen Master, JLU's Crackpot Conspiracy Theorist or even Rucka's Renee Montoya version, they've all been entertaining in their own little ways and I hope the updated Vic can stand proudly alongside those iconic interpretations.

EDIT: Oh, and I'm hyped for Multiversity too.
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Harvey Bullock » Dec 24th, 2012, 9:54 am

Jabels wrote:Great read, Harv. Congrats!

The Big Blue Q has always been a deeply interesting (and sometimes hilarious) character to me, and O'Neil always seems to use the comic book medium to effectively hit the sweet spot between an intelligent detective novel and a fun action flick, no matter if it be with Batman, Question or Green Lantern/Green Arrow. Although I'm quite weary of Vic's Nu52 persona, I remain greatly intrigued in another reinvention of the character as every other interpretation has worked very well, whether it's Ditko's original Objectivist Detectivist, O'Neil's Philosophical Zen Master, JLU's Crackpot Conspiracy Theorist or even Rucka's Renee Montoya version, they've all been entertaining in their own little ways and I hope the updated Vic can stand proudly alongside those iconic interpretations.

EDIT: Oh, and I'm hyped for Multiversity too.

Summed it up perfectly I think. Thanks again for the comic panels!
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Jabels » Dec 28th, 2012, 3:33 am

Harvey Bullock wrote:
Jabels wrote:Great read, Harv. Congrats!

The Big Blue Q has always been a deeply interesting (and sometimes hilarious) character to me, and O'Neil always seems to use the comic book medium to effectively hit the sweet spot between an intelligent detective novel and a fun action flick, no matter if it be with Batman, Question or Green Lantern/Green Arrow. Although I'm quite weary of Vic's Nu52 persona, I remain greatly intrigued in another reinvention of the character as every other interpretation has worked very well, whether it's Ditko's original Objectivist Detectivist, O'Neil's Philosophical Zen Master, JLU's Crackpot Conspiracy Theorist or even Rucka's Renee Montoya version, they've all been entertaining in their own little ways and I hope the updated Vic can stand proudly alongside those iconic interpretations.

EDIT: Oh, and I'm hyped for Multiversity too.

Summed it up perfectly I think. Thanks again for the comic panels!

No problem. Glad I could help.
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby The Oracle » Jan 6th, 2013, 1:21 am

Can't believe I missed this until now. Congratulations, Harvey! It's a great read.
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Harvey Bullock » Jan 8th, 2013, 5:00 pm

The Gotham Knight wrote:Can't believe I missed this until now. Congratulations, Harvey! It's a great read.

It's okay, thank you! :D
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby basilkarlo96 » Feb 19th, 2013, 6:00 am

You did such a good job I rushed to the comic shop and picked up 1-6. Needless to say its a new obsession of mine and I am even excited enough about the character to get the DC universe figure. Thanks!
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Harvey Bullock » Feb 19th, 2013, 10:57 am

basilkarlo96 wrote:You did such a good job I rushed to the comic shop and picked up 1-6. Needless to say its a new obsession of mine and I am even excited enough about the character to get the DC universe figure. Thanks!

Wow, that's so cool! I really hope you're enjoying the series and it's so nice to hear this TCC took you there!

Thank you again! :alfred:
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Pieter » Mar 16th, 2013, 10:38 am

This single handedly the greatest Question story of all time.
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Harvey Bullock » Mar 16th, 2013, 10:50 am

King Arthur Curry wrote:This single handedly the greatest Question story of all time.

Really? I think it's amazing too but Epitaph for a Hero is in a league of its own. :)

It even has the famous "Rorshach sucks" line. :oldyella:
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Re: Treasure Chest Comics #17: The Question - Zen & Violence

Postby Pieter » Mar 16th, 2013, 11:07 am

Harvey Bullock wrote:
King Arthur Curry wrote:This single handedly the greatest Question story of all time.

Really? I think it's amazing too but Epitaph for a Hero is in a league of its own. :)

It even has the famous "Rorshach sucks" line. :oldyella:

I haven't read that one yet.
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