In The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage, the faceless vigilante returns to live, die and live again in a mystery spanning multiple eras of Hub City. In the four-issue DC Black Label series, the Question will be forced to start seeing his black-and-white world in shades of gray.
DC Nation talked with writer Jeff Lemire and famed Question artist Denys Cowan on bringing Vic Sage from the Old West to the ‘30s to the present day, in a story uniquely suited for current times.
Denys, let’s start with the obvious: How does it feel to return to the Question and Hub City?
Denys Cowan: It’s always great to revisit Vic Sage and his world! Each of the issues are over forty pages each, so that gives us a very large canvas to get back into Hub City and its residents.
It’s been years since Vic Sage starred in his own series. What qualities of the character are you exploring with this new book? What do you think the Question represents that’s unique in 2019?
Jeff Lemire: I think that the original run by Denys Cowan and Dennis O'Neil in the late ‘80s was a very socially conscious book that really commented on the times it was being created in. I wanted this book to do the same and talk about the divided nature of the current social landscape. And, of course, we also go back through the history of Hub City and the Question in this story, so we see a lot of themes echoing across time too.
The Question’s history as a character—from the Ayn Randian, objectivism of the Steve Ditko original incarnation, and the contrast of that with the “Zen warrior” version of Denys and Dennis’ run—provides a great opportunity to show two sides of this character and have them reflect the divisions in Hub City and the world we are in now.
What are you looking to bring that’s new to the Question?
Lemire: I am looking to deepen the character’s history and mythology. To expand the Question’s mythos back through time, and also to provide him a brand-new adversary in the process.
Jeff, what’s it like working with legendary Question artist Denys Cowan (plus the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz!) on this? How much did that ’87-’90 run shape your perspective on the character?
Lemire: This is a true dream project for me. Denys and Dennis’ run was hugely inspirational to me, and in fact, I used it as a template for what a singular street level book could be when I was writing Green Arrow a few years back. So, it is a total thrill to work with two artists whom I consider legends, especially on this character.
Selfishly, as a fan, I just wanted more Question comics drawn by Denys—now I get to write them!
Denys, what do you like about Jeff’s take on Vic Sage?
Cowan: Jeff is a brilliant writer and I love working from his scripts because he's also a really good artist. He thinks very visually and has a great ear for dialogue and pacing.
Jeff and I did a few issues of Green Arrow…truly a great experience!
And it’s always exciting to see you back with Bill Sienkiewicz—what makes your collaborations with him special?
Cowan: It’s thrilling to work with Bill again! If our collaborations are special at all, it's because Bill Sienkiewicz is a brilliant artist! I'm a lucky man.
Given the unique premise, you’re also illustrating multiple eras beyond the modern day. How does that affect your visual approach to the series?
Cowan: Each book has its own time period, and because of that, each one requires a slightly different approach. We get to play in certain eras and genres—it's a lot of fun!
What can you share about the existential, era-spanning mystery at the core of the series?
Lemire: Nothing! Keep the mystery alive!!