Friday, July 12, 2013

The Ditkophile: The Question - Charlton Comics

The Question was created by writer-artist Steve Ditko, and first appeared in Blue Beetle #1 (June 1967) by Charlton Comics.

As conceived by Ditko, the Question was an adherent of Objectivism during his career as a Charlton action hero, following in the philosophical footsteps of Ditko's earlier, personal creation, Mr. A.

Based in Hub City, Vic Sage made his mark as a highly outspoken and aggressive investigative journalist. Not long after starting his TV appearances, he began to investigate Dr. Barby Twain.

Sage was approached by Aristotle Rodor, his former professor, currently a scientist. Rodor told Sage about an artificial skin he had co-developed with Dr. Twain called Pseudoderm. Pseudoderm was intended to work as an applied skin-like bandage with the help of a bonding gas, but it had an unforeseen toxicity which was sometimes fatal when applied to open wounds.

 Rodor and Twain agreed to abandon the project and parted ways, but Professor Rodor discovered that Dr. Twain had decided to proceed with an illegal sale of the invention to Third World nations, regardless of the risk to human health.

Sage resolved to stop him but had no way of going after Dr. Twain without exposing himself. Rodor suggested that Sage use a mask made of Pseudoderm to cover his famous features.

Armed with information, and more importantly a disguise, Sage eventually caught up with Dr. Twain, stopping the transaction and extracting a confession, then leaving Twain bound in Pseudoderm.

On television, Sage reported on Dr. Twain's illegal activities. Sage decided that this new identity would be useful for future investigations, and partnered with Professor Rodor, who supplied the Pseudoderm and eventually modified the bonding gas to change the color of Sage's hair and clothing. The two men became good friends, with Sage affectionately referring to Rodor as "Tot".

Compared to other superhero characters of the Silver Age of Comic Books, The Question was more harsh in his methods. For example, when he was fighting some criminals in a sewer and knocked them into a deep and fast moving water flow, he declined to pull them out despite their real danger of drowning. Instead, he left to notify the police to retrieve them in case they survived the ordeal.

The Question's most frequent foe was Max Bine (a.k.a. The Banshee). Introduced in Blue Beetle vol. 4 #2 (August 1967), Bine was the apprentice of a circus performer named the Flying Dundo.

Designing a cape that enabled the ability to fly, Dundo was slain by his pupil and Max Bine became the costumed Banshee using his mentor's invention to terrorize towns he crossed.

The Banshee would meet his Waterloo when he reached Crown City where he would spar with The Question on several occasions.

No comments:

Post a Comment