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“Toth’s Question: The Isolated Exception?” by Mark Burbey

Charlton Spotlight #5 Argo Press’s Charlton Spotlight highlights the publications of the Derby, CT, comic company in a thoughtful, organized, well-designed way not seen in many ‘zines this side of Twomorrows. Issue #5 features an op/ed by Mark Burbey about the Question, as well as a pair of other Ditkocentric articles on Captain Atom and the Blue Beetle that also briefly discuss the Q?.

Those interested in Charlton will also find a wealth of other interesting articles and essays in this issue, including an extremely candid interview with prolific writer Joe Gill, a reprint of a Ditko sci-fi story, an essay on Dr. Graves by writer Steve Skeates, a selection of anecdotes from Ron Frantz, a look at working with the late Jim Aparo by Skeates, a look at Charlton’s text-stories, and a remembrance of Charlton in 1973.

Charlton Spotlight publisher Mike Ambrose gave us permission to print an excerpt of the Burbey article, as seen below. We encourage everyone to visit the Charlton Spotlight website, where the issue is available for purchase.

It’s the very personal and philosophical nature of the characters and the stories that confine them exclusively to the universe of Ditko. When DC acquired the Charlton characters in 1983 and wove them into the “DC Universe,” they seem to have left behind the qualities that made them unique. Captain Atom and the Blue Beetle suffered badly in comparison, but none were more separated from what gave them purpose than the Question. Originally a fascinating and artistically pure creation, the Question without Ditko is like soft watches without Dali. Many comics creators like the Question because “he looks cool” but divorce teh character from his Objectivist origins because they either don’t agree with them or feel that it prevents them from “fleshing him out.” He is, however, what his is. We don’t need to know his back story. He is what he believes. Right is right, wrong is wrong — black and white. In other words, A is A, which Mr. A (or Ditko) lifted directly from Rand’s writings. The point of the original stories wasn’t to get to know the Question better or team him up with other superheroes, but to symbolize a philosophy that, like it or not, subscribes to a strict moral standard.

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