The Question
Volume 1 - Zen and Violence

Author: Dennis O'Neil
Artist: Denys Cowan
Titan Books
RRP: 12.99, US $19.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 690 0
ISBN-10: 1 84576 690 3
Available 23 November 2007

Investigative reporter Vic Sage - the faceless, morally conflicted avenger known as The Question - is violently defeated in combat by the mercenary Lady Shiva, and his body is thrown into a river. But it's not his time to die... After a rescue, Sage finds himself in a remote location - where he spends the next year in intense retraining of martial arts under the tutelage of Richard Dragon. Upon returning to his hometown of Hub City, The Question delves into Eastern philosophy as he battles crime and crooked politicians - while encountering the likes of Batman and many of DC's martial arts heroes...

Zen and Violence is an impressive opening to The Question series of graphic novels. It collects together issues #1-6 of the comic book series that started in 1986. This collection opens up with a story that counts down to the death of The Question (aka Charles Victor Szasz... aka investigative reporter Vic Sage) a mysterious avenger of the corrupt who hides his identify by wearing a prosthetic face that makes his face appear featureless, while still allowing him to breath and see. This mask is cemented to his face by a using a mysterious gas - a gas that also changes the colour of the clothes he wears.

Helped by his former professor Aristotle Rodor, who originally invented the skin as a way to heal wounds more effectively (although it had some side effects and was withdrawn), The Question spends the remainder of this graphic novel attempting to piece together who he is and how he became so badly injured.

While all the stories collected here represent one continuous narrative, I have to say that I thought that Cityscape stood out head and shoulders above the others. This is mainly down to the Maud Frawley plot line that opens and closes this tale, as well as the strange story that revolves around a relationship between two co-workers.

As this pretty much kick-starts the reawakening of The Question character, this is an essential collection for fans to get their hands on, as well as a great way for those unfamiliar with the character to get up to speed on all the necessary basics.

Nick Smithson

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