Charlton Comics

»The origins of a faceless Objectivist, 1967-1983

Any discussion of the Question has to start with his creator, a writer / penciller named Steve Ditko, known for his uncomprimising attitude and fierce independence, a passion for the works and beliefs of Ayn Rand, and the rigid black-and-white moral code that served as the basis for most of his work. Oh, and he also co-created some character named Spider-Man.

When Ditko left Marvel in 1966 (the reason remains a subject for debate), he found himself in familiar surroundings at at Charlton Comics, where he'd helped create the atomic superhero Captain Atom during his first decade of work in the 50s (as well as tons of other characters and stories in the pulpy Charlton pages). Ditko first worked to revitalize Cap in the age of the Action Hero, then, in the back pages, turned his interests to a decades-old character named the Blue Beetle. Ditko replaced the old Beetle with a new face, new gadgets and a quick wit, and soon the popular new Blue Beetle was starring in his own book.

For the back pages of Blue Beetle, Ditko created a hero that expressed Ditko's personal morals and philosophies. He was given the name Victor Sage and a gimmick: a mask that, instead of giving him a new alter-ego face, gave him none at all. The faceless hero was nicknamed the Question, and Charlton had another Ditko hit on it's hands. But the profits were down for Charlton Comics, and the hero line was downsized. Ditko's Question was featured in all five issues of Blue Beetle and one full-length issue of his own, inexplicably entitled "Mysterious Suspense."

It is a testament to Ditko's skill that this character, few as his Charlton appearances may have been, still inspires discussion and debate to this day.

The Question was featured in a CPL/Gang Publication, a sort of fanzine run by Bob Layton called "Charlton Bullseye." Ditko could not be reached to do a Question story, so Layton turned instead to the artist's artist, Alex Toth for the artwork. The Question next featured in a second version of Charlton Bullseye, this time put out by Charlton itself, though the company was already beginning its death throes. The final appearance of the Question before moving to DC came in a book called Americomics Special, which united Captain Atom, Nightshade, Blue Beetle and The Question in a sort of Justice-League-type team called the Sentinels of Justice. Before the issue hit newsstands, the characters were resold to DC.

For more information, see links to specific issues below.

Comics

Charlton Comics

CPL / Gang Publications

Americomics / AC Comics

Objectivism

Objectivism Links

»Blue Beetle #1

By Steve Ditko

»Mysterious Suspense #1

By Steve Ditko

»Charlton Bullseye #5

By Alex Toth

»Charlton Bullseye #1

By Dan Reed

»Americomics Special #1

By Greg Guler

Where other "heroes" powers are based on some accidental super element, The Question['s]..."power" is deliberately knowing what is right and acting accordingly. But it is one of choice. Of choosing to know what is right and choosing to act on that knowledge in all his thoughts and actions…with everyone he deals with. No conflict or contradiction in his behavior in either identity. He isn't afraid To know or refuse to act on what is right no matter in what situation he finds himself.

Where other heroes choose to be self-made neurotics, the Question...choose[s] to be psychologically and intellectually healthy. It's a choice everyone has to make.


--Steve Ditko