What is the fascination we have with Westerns? I for one love them, maybe in part because there’s lawlessness that requires people to be good or evil depending on their proclivity. Take any superhero or modern character and send them back to the 1800s and creators can explore what makes them tick in new ways. The Question series drops Vic Sage into the past–1886 to be exact–and he soon finds himself in quite a bind.
This issue opens with a man riding his horse through the Hub City main street. We’re privy to horrors the man has witnessed, like bloody war and folks getting their scalps cut off. It’s a world that’s gone bit mad, and in this issue writer Jeff Lemire aims to find one of its sources. One of the beauties of this book is how it takes its time. DC Black Label is a premier format that gives creators a lot more leeway, and you can see it in an early scene where a shopkeep won’t sell to a black man. Vic steps in to buy the item the shopkeep won’t sell and this causes a world of trouble later on. The cadence of the scene, rendered by Denys Cowen with inks by Bill Sienkiewicz, captures the moments within the moments very well. Vic and the man are soon making peace for the moment in the street and the ball is rolling for the sheriff and townsfolk to punish them both. You feel a kinship between the two characters and that’s largely due to the art.
Much of the rest of the issue takes us on an adventure that takes surprising turns, brings terrible violence on the innocent, and makes you question whether evil really is a thing. Vic isn’t sure, but by the end, his mind might have changed. We basically get one done-in-one story here following the exploits of this 1886 version of The Question and it’s a wild ride. There’s an epic double page layout that features the character shooting with both hands at once left and right and panels tumbling around those guns that’s impressive.
My only gripe is how quickly it all comes to an end. Maybe there’s a message there about the finite nature of life, or how life isn’t fair, but over three of 45 or so pages everything ends. It’s so quick compared to the slower cadence of the main book — it feels rushed, or at the very least not given its due given the weight of the moment.
I was a little unsure of this series from the first issue but simply loved this second issue. The western setting, the nature of good and evil, and the idea of The Question fighting this battle in the past and present is a fascinating one. The art is dark and absorbing, telling the tale in smaller moments and big montage moments perfectly well. If you’re interested in the battle of good and evil, you won’t want to miss this.
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