The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 Is published by DC Comics, under their DC Black Label, written by Jeff Lemire, with art by Denys Cowan, inks by Bill Sienkiewicz, colors by Chris Sotomayor and letters by Willie Schubert. Transporting readers back to the year 1886, this issue tells a tale from a very different Hub city and a man named Victor Szasz.
Simple things are often the best things. Simple plans have the fewest chances to go wrong for example. And a simple premise to a story can free a book to bring added focus to characters, places, and subtext. However, if the simple premise is not reinforced through these other storytelling devices you are often left with a story that repetitively hammers home a point it’s already made. Such is the fate of The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2.
Victor Szasz is introduced to the reader as a man with a haunted past. During this introduction, we learn that he participated in some of the more despicable actions that were perpetrated on the indigenous people by Americans as they moved west. These moments have come to haunt Szasz. They weigh him down, convincing him that there is no good in this world. As the book goes on Szasz will return to this perspective over and over. And while this perspective is certainly given a great deal of reinforcement throughout this book, this continual rehashing of this position made the character feel very one note to me. That his grim world view is all he is.
Just as the previous issue saw The Question confronting corruption in the modern-day, this story’s tale deals with the corruption of Hub city of 1886. Most notably that of the horribly racists attitude presented by most of the townsfolk. It becomes quite clear that everyone in this town, except our protagonist, is out to get an unfortunate African American couple that are just in the wrong place. The deplorable way these individuals are treated by the townsfolk is the apex of the recurring theme of this book. That people are terrible. This theme is further magnified when one connects the events here to the previous issue’s story where, even many decades later, everything is still horrible.
This is my struggle with this book. Though the story has a strong theme, the evil of people, it doesn’t feel like it does anything with it. From Szasz’s actions in his past to the terrible ways the townspeople behave we are shown how bad people can be. But that’s it. Even when Szasz takes action he doesn’t see anything good. He is simply fulfilling destiny. This insertion of destiny within the narrative only further serves to enhance the inevitable feeling that evil must be. By the end of the book, the message feels too overwrought without it coming to anything beyond the initial concept.
Even though I felt the overall tone hammered its dark theme to heavily there are still moments in this book that use its setting with incredible poignancy. Szasz’s attempt to rescue the beset upon settlers from an angry throng is truly heartbreaking.
The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2’s art supports the style of the issue well. Cowan’s work is dark, gritty, and doesn’t shy away from the ugly truths the book deals with. This art utilizes the freedom granted by being under the mature-themed Black Label with as much skill as it’s preceding issue. It’s violent moments always feel poignant and purposeful. The premise is the world is bad and this art certainly succeeds at showing that.
So while I felt the full extra size story of The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 was a little thin it still provides a solid read. It has some emotional moments while showing just how bad the world can get. I will be interested to see how the next issue picks up the narrative and where the creative team takes it from here.
The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 is available now wherever comics are sold.
The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2
So while I felt the full extra size story of The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #2 was a little thin it still provides a solid read.