...The Question!
Banner: The Question by Denys Cowan

The Question v.1 #5

"Cityscape" - June 1987

The Cover of The Question #5 by Denys Cowan
ENLARGE
Script: Dennis O'Neil
Pencils: Denys Cowan
Inks: Rick Magyar
Lettering: Gaspar
Colors: Tatjana Wood
Editor: Mike Gold
Cover: Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz
Published by DC Comics

Hub City began when Gaston Hupert, one of Jean Lafitte's officers, stood proclaiming, "I shall build a mighty city here, the hub of a mighty empire." Seconds after, he was stabbed to death by his own men, who blamed the murder on Indians.

A hundred and seventy years later, scrubbing woman Maud Frawley waits for her bus under a memorial statue of Gaston. Three thugs demand her money, and the Question appears, taking them down easily. Is Maud thankful? "Gid oudda way," she tells the faceless hero as she walks to her bench.

The Question walks to the car of his friend and mentor, Aristotle Rodor, Ph.D. The city is going to hell around them, Sage says, and he blames himself for burning down the mayoral mansion and eliminating the city government. Tot tries to commend him, saying that the Times called Hub's city government the worst in history. They tune into the news, where Mayor Wesley Fermin blames Communists for the fire and the fact that the city's firemen and police are striking.

Tot and the Question find themselves driving through a looting zone of mad crowds smashing and gathering. Drive on, says Sage. He needs to find a fight he can handle. He spies Lt. Izzy O'Toole of the Hub City police department, the "Lousiest cop on the force. If I had to pick one man to represent everything that's wrong with this town, it'd be him." Maud continues to wait at the bus stop, not knowing that the drivers won't brave Hub City while cops are on strike.

At the Kessel building, Francine Tolchuk doesn't want to brave walking home. Her boss, Bernie Josephson offers to let her sleep on a couch in the office. Izzy O'Toole walks down the street below, past crimes in progress, thinking that the system forced him to be as corrupt as he is.He's looking for something. Josephson is looking for something too, through the crack of the door as Francine Tolchuk undresses. He approaches her, pulls her near to him, forces her down on the couch, and she rakes fingernails across his face. Maud still waits in the cold.

Tolchuk calls Josephson disgusting, and he asks forgiveness. She'll give him pity, but not that. He walks to the roof, disgusted with himself. He stands on the edge and waits. Maud waits. Myra Connelly waits. In her warm apartment, Myra goes to slice a piece of angel food cake, and finds herself staring at the knife, remembering another bit of cutting she did recently. She knocks the cake to the floor and starts talking to herself, defending her murder of Reverend Hatch.

Bernie Josephson jumps. In the final half-second, he changes his mind. Two punks find his body ont eh sidewalk and start going over his body for valuables. Izzy O'Toole watches from the shadows and decides to act. He pulls a gun and the thugs don't take him seriously. "I'm a cop. This is what bein' a cop is." One of the thieves bites his arm, and Izzy drops the gun. He trips over a looted television, and one of the thugs draws down on him. "He broke my leg one time I didn't give him money. 'Member that, Izzy? You shouldn'ta done that, Izzy, 'cause what goes around comes around."

"Some call that karma," says the Question. He disarms the thugs and starts to head on his way. Izzy stops him and asks where he came from. The Question says he was tailing O'Toole to catch him taking graft. "Wha'd you say if I asked who you are?" Izzy asks. "Something enigmatic!" replies the Question. The Question leaves the lieutenant to call a morgue wagon for the suicide victim. "Hey No-Face, I owe ya," says Izzy. He turns to the dead body of Josephson: "Hell, maybe I owe you too!"

The Question climbs back into Tot's car, where Tot tells him that the governor plans to send in the National Guard. He says he's taking the Question home, but the Question refuses. "You're too tired to stop me," Tot says. The weary Sage removes his mask. "Good point," he says."

Tot attempts to absolve Sage of his guilt, but Sage claims that it's still his fault. "I'm a journalist by profession. A journalist's task is to tell the truth, tell it long and loud and shrill until people do something about what's wrong." "You tried," says Tot. "No, not hard enough. Me and others like me...we didn't do our jobs. Or things wouldn't have gotten this bad." Sage plans to get his job back the next day. "It's important, Tot -- the truth-tellers are always important...whether they're scientists wrestling with quantum mechanics or philosophers riddling the meaning of life or just working stiff reporters pounding the police beat...." "Amen," says Tot.

The National Guard arrives at midnight and re-establishes an "uneasy peace." Francine Tolchuk wonders how to tell her friends, her fiancé, about what happened. Bernie Josephson has no questions anymore, but his wife wonders where he is and why he hasn't called from across the city. Izzy O'Tooles ponders being a good cop. Myra stares out at the snow seeking answers. And Maud waits. "Maybe she'll wait forever."

Characters

  • Gaston Hupert
  • Maud Frawley
  • Vic Sage / The Question
  • Aristotle Rodor
  • Wesley Fermin
  • Izzy O'Toole
  • Bernie Josephson
  • Francine Tolchuk
  • Myra Connelly Fermin

Gallery

Trivia / Minutiae

First appearance of Izzy O'Toole.

This month's Recommended Reading: Any Eighty-Seventh Precinct novel by Ed McBain

Relevant Links

DC Comics

Denny O'Neil

Denys Cowan

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