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Friday, January 27, 2006

THE QUESTION by O'Neil post-series

Finishing up the chronicles of Vic Sage (as written by Dennis O'Neil, at least), the first place he popped up after his monthly series concluded in 1990 was just a few months later, in his usual Annual meeting with Oliver Queen.

Green Arrow Annual #3 - "A Walk in the Wind"
This story serves largely to deliver Vic and his new charge Jackie down to the rainforest, going down with Green Arrow and the Black Canary. It's not really explained why Vic would go along on that mission, with Jackie in tow, but it's not a bad story otherwise, and sets up the new status quo, as temporary as it may have been.

Question Quarterly, The #1 - "Any Man's Death"
Denys Cowan takes on the full art chores for this and the next issue. It's kind of a mixed bag, as he seems to be feeling out exactly which direction he wants his art style to go, so the experimental bits that work real well share space with those that don't. Anyway, Vic finds that trouble seems to follow him around, even down to the rainforest, and has to rescue Jackie from an insane drug dealer. Along the way he finally satisfies a bit of curiosity that he wondered about for years.

Question Quarterly, The #2 - "Gomorrah Homecoming"
As Jackie is dying, Vic decides he has to take her back to her mother in Hub City, meeting up with Marco (and it took me years to realize that there was probably a joke in giving Vic a sidekick named Marco), a practicioner of capoeira who was told by Shiva that he had to beat Vic to get a rematch with her (which I don't think Marco ever did get). They finally make it back to Hub City, without much time to spare. At the time this came out I thought it was a bit disappointing that after all that time spent in getting Vic out of Hub City he returned so quickly, but in retrospect I think it kind of fit the overall theme of how he's drawn there and how his development constantly backslides. Overall it's probably the most successful of the QUARTERLY issues.

Unfortunately, two pages of this printed out of order, the second time this happened to the series.

Cowan's off for the next issue (except the cover), replaced by Joe Quesada

Question Quarterly, The #3 - "Hell in Hub City"
The long-awaited movie finally gets made in Hub City. Bit of an experimental story, combining some screenplay style snippits with some odd scene cuts and flash forwards. I think it might have worked with a better artist, as it is, not so much, but there are some nice funny bits.

For some reason we jump from #3 to #5:
Question Quarterly, The #5 - "Outrage"
This is a "Rashomon" inspired story, where O'Neil and Quesada do the framing sequences and one version of the events that lead to Vic punching Myra, and various characters recounting why they think it happened. My favourite of the four chapters is the first, by Kelley Puckett, Denys Cowan and Mike Manley, which has Marco's version of events. It's a lot of goofy fun, as Marco is more concerned with fighting styles than with the story. The other guest segments didn't work as well, and I'm still not sure what to make of the O'Neil/Quesada finale, but I guess if any series has a right to an enigmatic ending it's this one.

That concludes the "Quarterly", back in 1992. Vic is next seen in 1995, in my favourite of his post-monthly stories:
Showcase '95 #3 - "Homecoming"
A short story drawn by Rick Burchett, where Vic once again returns to Hub City (boy can't stay away), this time to check for records in the orphanage where he was raised. Of course his timing being what it is he gets there just in time to see one of his tormenter nuns being attacked by one of his tormenter former classmates. A minor story, true, but interesting, and I'd have loved to see Burchett drawing more of Vic's adventures than any of the other non-Cowan artists.

A few months later, we get this brief thing:
Azrael #10 - "Arena"
Where Vic and Shiva run into each other in the crowd at a karate championship in Gotham City, which seemed to be leading somewhere but I don't think it ever did, although I'm missing some issues of AZRAEL so I might have missed it. Mostly amusing for the fact that Vic is impressed by fighting moves of the fake Azrael that Shiva considers amateurish.

It was over a year later, in late 1996, that Vic and Azrael finally met in:
Azrael Plus #1 - "The Anger the Terror and the Question"
A one-shot special with Vince Giarrano on the art. Among other things we find out that Vic's been making his money playing poker, which leads him to a bodyguard gig aboard a riverboat, which also happens to have Azrael on board. More interestingly, it's also set to be attacked by old friend Junior Musto, still trying in vain to impress his late father. Not great, but there were a few bits of humour that I really liked, and Junior Musto is always entertaining, in a sad way.

And finally, a few months later in 1997:
Question Returns, The #1 - ["Have you noticed that this boat is sinking?"]
Back to Hub City one last time (and even a cameo by Dr. Aristotle Rodor, though no other clue as to what he's been up to since leaving the Hub), as Mayor Myra has vanished and Vic makes his way back for a rescue. Like most of the post-monthly-series adventures of Vic Sage I liked bits, but wish it was more satisfying. Even Eduardo Barreto's artwork, which I normally like, seemed lacking. Among other things, I couldn't understand a story about corrupt cops in Hub City which doesn't even acknowledge Izzy. And then there was some stuff about river spirits. Eh. It was good to see Myra going on with her life.

And thus passes Vic Sage, nine years ago and not seen since.

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