This article is about Vic Sage, the first person to use the identity of the Question. For the second person to use the name Question, see Renee Montoya. For the New 52 supernatural entity, see The Question.
Vic Sage is an investigative reporter working for World Wide Broadcasting Co. in Hub City. He is approached by an old friend and ex-professor, Aristotle Rodor, who tells Sage that Rodor’s old partner, Dr Arby Twain, is attempting to sell Pseudoderm, which had been tested and found to be dangerous when applied to open wounds, to Third World countries as a form of bandage. Sage wants to expose the scheme; however, he can’t investigate without revealing his identity. With the help of Rodor, he creates the identity of the Question, wearing a featureless mask made of Pseudoderm. He gathers the information needed, and uses his position at WWB to broadcast the truth about Pseudoderm. After Twain is defeated, Sage decides to use the Question identity in future investigations, and to protect “his” city.
Vic Sage was created for Charlton Comics by Steve Ditko. He first appeared in the DC Universe in 1985, and the character was revamped for that universe by Dennis O’Neil and Denys Cowan in 1987. The character was significantly rebooted by Sean Ryan and Jeremy Roberts.
Sage was originally created as a minor Charlton Comics hero. He was heavily influenced by his creator’s objectivist views, similar to Ditko’s other creation, Mr A, and espoused a firmly objective standard of ethics. In his first appearances, Sage had very little backstory, and was often ruthless in his treatment of criminals.
“You need the danger, the excitement, the adrenaline surge, as an addict needs the needle. One day it will kill you, this need…” – Aristotle Rodor.
When a number of Charlton Comics’ characters were purchased by DC, Sage migrated along with them. He made a few small appearances before 1987, at which point the character was given his own series. His backstory was heavily expanded upon: Vic Sage was born as Charles Victor Szasz, an orphan who was raised in a Hub City orphanage, where he gained a reputation as a troublemaker. Because of his behaviour and defiant nature he was frequently beaten by the nuns who ran the orphanage, and often victimized by the other children. When he was old enough he left the orphanage for college, where he studied journalism. He found work as a reporter, but was dissatisfied with his life and had trouble controlling his violent tendencies. Sometime later he met Aristotle Rodor, who helped him channel his anger and aggression into a new, heroic persona – The Question.
The character maintained the philosophical bent that had characterized his early incarnations, but drifted away from Objectivism towards a more Zen-based philosophy. This version of the character had no superhuman powers or abilities, but was very skilled in martial arts and detective work. He wore a Pseudoderm mask that bonded to his skin using binary gasses, which could also be used to change the colour of his specially-treated clothing and hair. Briefly during this period he had a mystical ability to communicate with the planet, and to generate illusions
The character was significantly rebooted for the New 52 universe, becoming an essentially in-name-only version of Sage. This iteration of the character introduced his current origin and personality. This version of the character is not and has never been the Question. Instead of being a journalist, he is a government functionary. However, during DC Rebirth, Vic was mostly returned to his original characterization.
Major Story Arcs
Vic Sage, an investigative reporter recently returned to Hub City, the city of his birth, has been stirring up trouble with some very important people, both in his civilian identity and as the Question. These people formulate a plan to silence him that leaves him nearly dead. He is rescued from certain death by Lady Shiva, who sends him to be trained by Richard Dragon. Under Dragon’s tutelage he learns martial arts and develops an interest in eastern philosophies.
Upon his return to Hub City, a newly refocused Sage dedicates himself to eliminating the corruption that has been slowly but surely taking control of every aspect of life in Hub City. His quest for justice went beyond street vigilantism this time. He became steeped in politics when he made an ally of his ex-girlfriend and former reporter, Myra Connelly. With Vic out of her life, she married the corrupt and debilitatingly alcoholic mayor of Hub City, Wesley Fermin.
One night, after coming in from patrol, Vic and Tot were attacked by thugs. Using gas that knocked out Vic, he awoke to find his friend Tot had been kidnapped. He had very little to go except a plumbing van he suspected was for surveillance and an experimental time release drug they used to knock him out. With no leads, he decides to reach out to a college friend, who is now a federal agent. He was able to do a background check on Tot, giving Vic all sorts of personal information he was ashamed he never learned about his friend. He also mentioned that the time release hallucination gas sounded like a drug they had tracked to Santa Prisca. With no other options, Vic heads for the island.
On a hunch, he checks out a sixteenth century Spanish fort, El Forteleza. There, he finds his friend captive by the private army of a drug dealer known as El Beato (The Beast). He had brought Tot to Santa Prisca because he was a classmate of his father and had shown him kindness. He wanted Tot to witness him turning on his own personal particle accelerator. Vic steals the uniform of a guard to sneak in and pretends to be injured to hide his face. He makes his way through the fort but is ultimately caught and brought to Beato and Tot. He was too beaten to pay attention to the effects of the accelerator, but Tot was rendered catatonic for many weeks.
Vic brought him back to Hub City and continued to care for him until a news reporter about a mysterious man in the woods of Santa Prisca acting like a hero woke Tot.
Final Resting Place of O-Sensei
One night, Vic is approached by Lady Shiva for a special meeting with Batman and Green Arrow. She needs all three of their help with an issue with O-Sensei. Many years ago, O-Sensei promised to be buried next to his wife, but his wife’s family believes he has brought shame to their family, so they moved the burial ground. She is calling in favors of the three heroes to help her locate it.
Batman knew of the family. They made all their money in the Asian electronic boom and bought an island. He promised to charter a jet and boat for them to make it to the island within 24 hours, however, Vic secretly requested Batman not accompany them. Between his detective work and his muscle, Batman was making Vic feel useless, and Vic wanted to prove himself, so. Batman agreed not to come along.
After taking out the family’s security guards on the mainland dock, they ventured into the stormy waters against better judgment. Unfortunately, the boat capsized, and they lost O-Sensei. Vic was feeling useless again and was getting down on himself. Despite losing O-Sensei, Vic was determined to find his wife’s resting place just so he could succeed at something. Unfortunately, when they finally find the family mausoleum, her remains are not there. Depressed, Vic and the others return home.
Later, Vic receives a letter in the mail. It states that the family’s boat capsized in the same storm, losing O-Sensei’s wife’s remains. Ironically, O-Sensei and his wife now shared the same resting place, and Vic learned a valuable lesson that there are no failures.
Vic received a cablegram alerting him to an incoming yakuza member with special information regarding the upcoming Hub City mayoral election. His ex, Myra, had been running in the place of her drunkard husband, so Vic was especially interested. Unfortunately, a member of the Savage Huns Social Club killed the yakuza member before Vic could get any information off of him. He went to one of their clubhouses to lean on them and overheard that they were working for Royal Dinsmore, Myra’s competition, and that the Japanese man was going to “blow the whistle.”
Vic connected the dots that Dinsmore used his yakuza connections to rig Hub City’s new voting machines, made in Japan. Unfortunately, he let the wrong judge know about his suspicions and leaked the info to Dinsmore, who ordered the Savage Huns to kill Vic and to intimidate anyone not wearing a green Dinsmore hat at the polls. Vic originally decided to combat this by reporting on them as a news anchor until Tot was beaten up trying to vote. At which point, Vic decided to mask up and literally fight back.
Vic’s search for justice is interrupted by a tornado that zig-zagged through the city. He was caught out in the middle of it, narrowly avoiding debris and being lifted off his feet multiple times. When the weather finally cleared, Vic celebrated surviving it. Myra lost by a single vote, however, because Dinsmore died in the tornado damage, Myra was still awarded the job.
Until Myra could get an effective police force together, Vic felt like the only line of defense on the street. He was especially banged up from the many nights confronting violent criminals. So much so that Tot ran out of bandages and resorted to cutting up his mask to bandage his arm. That same night, Green Arrow stopped by Tot’s place with a story of mixing it up with Question lookalikes. Vic believed it must be the work of Arby Twain, Tot’s old partner and co-creator of the pseudoderm mask, who Vic put in jail for counterfeit medication. Arrow’s connections were able to locate him in Santa Prisca, a place Vic knew pretty well. The two vigilantes snuck onto the island with a Wayne Foundation humanitarian supply drop.
They sneak into one of the bases and steal pseudoderm masks to hide their identities and mix in with the other enforcers. They sneak up on Twain talking to a local general. Twain had adjusted the binary gas that affixes the masks into a drug that causes obedience (but kills 11% of the population), that he plans to test in Hub City. Twain believes he is being altruistic, removing greed, anger, and fear, with individuality as a casualty. After all the sin he witnessed in Hub City, Vic is almost convinced it is for the best and hesitates when Arrow jumps to action. It costs them the chance to end it there and now, and the two heroes end up getting separated in the gunfire and accidental binary gas release.
Unfortunately, the new binary gas mix made Vic’s mask stuck to his face, stopping Vic from soothing his irritated eyes and skin. He was also stuck with the appearance of a wanted man who ruined a drug cartel that last time he had come to Santa Prisca. Or so he feared. Gomez, the criminal, found and helped Vic. He cut open a hole in the mask so that Vic could eat and gave Vic important counsel in the importance of compassion. His decision to no longer embrace evil served as a counterargument to the philosophy of Twain that made brief sense to Vic.
Thankfully, Vic was able to return to a Hub City saved by Green Arrow, who was working with Vic’s allies.
After hearing about the death of a prominent lumber baron by a traditional IRA execution method and who was then scalped, Vic traveled to Canada to investigate rumors of Native Canadian separatists teaming up with Irish gun-runners. He teamed up with Green Arrow, who was doing his own independent investigations, and Butcher, who went undercover as Vic’s cameraman. They start asking around under the pretense of spotlighting successful native businessmen. Unfortunately, their questions were too suspicious, and some goons attempted to run them off the road.
The trio’s investigation eventually revealed that Sir Arthur Youngblood was behind everything. Through shell companies, he owned the lumber company that was purchasing part of the Whitewater Reservation to develop a golf course. He had hired the IRA to kill the lumber baron and flood the reservation with guns, hoping the residents would fight back against the golf course and trigger government intervention. This would give Youngblood the opportunity to step in and take the entire reservation for a large residential development.
Arrow, Vic, and Butcher offered to fight back against the IRA goons hired by Youngblood so that the residents could save face.
Leaving Hub City
The long nights beating up bad guys finally got to Vic. On Christmas Eve, he started hallucinating a woman with no face pretending to be his mother. He would cry out and ask why she left him at the orphanage at the beginning of his life. During one of these episodes, he crashed his car into a lamp post. Couple of local thugs stole his mask and clothes. They beat him up and left him in the street in his underwear.
The thugs that were posing as The Question were killing folks, getting the attention of Richard Dragon, who was worried about his former pupil. He teamed up with Myra to locate Vic, who they found passed out in a church. When he came to, he told Myra that the vision of his faceless mother convinced him to leave Hub City. They put him in Richard’s wheelchair, as he was only faking his handicap for the sake of Vic’s ego. As they trekked to shelter, Hub City showed them the worst side of it it possibly could, strengthening Vic’s resolve about leaving.
On Christmas morning, Vic woke still determined to leave Hub City. He got his exit with a helicopter supplied by Lady Shiva, however, at the last minute, Myra decided to stay behind and be the mayor she promised to be. And Vic left.
The Question Returns
Vic comes out of retirement after learning that Myra had gone missing after last being seen on a barge. After hitchhiking to Hub City, he was forced to fight his way in since the new crime boss, Mister Limbo, had a number of crooked cops and enforcer, Cathy Fregosi, on the payroll. He overhears that they were also gunning for the barge Myra was being held on, so Vic sabotaged their speed boat to give him a head start. When he finally found her, he attacked who he thought was her kidnapper but who was actually her savior. Billy, her new boyfriend, was protecting her from Limbo and his crooked cops.
Living Assault Weapons
A lot has changed for Vic. He had left KBEL for an anchor position at GBS in Metropolis. He had also deduced that the Blue Beetle was Ted Kord and entered into a partnership with him to share intel, never revealing his own identity to Kord. He came calling for Kord’s help after delivering breaking news on his show that the Justice League had been teleported from this reality by Avatar, the reincarnation of the Hindu god, Parashrama. He was eradicating all forms of defense from the Earth, and Vic needed Kord’s help taking him down.
They track Avatar’s disciples around the world but are overpowered in India. They are rescued by Rip Jagger, the original Judomaster, who had been spending his time since WWII at Nanda Parbat. As they make their escape on Kord’s flying beetle, they receive a distress call from Sarge Steel, inviting them to Project Peacemaker in the Swiss Alps. He was recruiting them for his Justice League replacement team, The L.A.W. task force, along with Nightshade, Peacemaker (Mitch Black), and Captain Atom.
After one of their plans is instantly stopped by Avatar, Sarge suspects a mole in Project Peacemaker. They track it to a Doctor Bhattacarja, who had locked herself in mission control for a satellite recently upgraded with Kord Industries GPS. It appeared she was programming it to release an EMP to finish off the military programs in Avatar’s crosshairs. Vic, Kord, and Mitch board a rocket to take out the satellite before she has a chance.
With Avatar’s plan ruined, Nightshade was clear to use her new interdimensional powers to return the Justice League to this plane of existence, while Judomaster confronts Avatar after realizing it was his old sidekick, Tiger.
Cry for Blood
The Question took an interest in Huntress, when he saw her going down a similar dark path as he once was. Her extended relatives with mafia-ties were being murdered by someone with a crossbow, and Huntress was the prime suspect. Vic decided to introduce her to Richard Dragon, who would help her focus her anger just as he had done for Vic once before.
Once her training was done, Vic traveled with her back to Gotham to help her clear her name. He had already done some leg work for her, having spotted a private investigator surveilling her apartment while she was with Dragon. He identified the man who hired the P.I., leading Huntress to her true biological father. She was overcome with anger and ultimately agreed to be his superhero muscle only to serve him up to men who wanted him dead, much to Vic’s chagrin.
Devil’s in the Details
While active in Chicago, Vic had a run in with a shamanic hitman, named Psychopomp, whose torture extends into the afterlife. Psychopomp felt a kindred spirit in Vic, who had been mixing psychotropics into his binary gas to allow him to mystically communicate with the city. Out of respect, Psychopomp revealed he was hired by The Subterraneans, a criminal organization that has mastered secrecy due to them being in a “city under the sway of a being of immense physical and totemic power,” Psychopomp’s intended victim. Deciphering this as Superman, Vic heads to Metropolis to try and stop them.
His ability to communicate to Metropolis revealed a network of false plumbing that connected The Subterraneans to criminals from firework bootleggers to black market organ dealers. They would pass money and contraband through this false plumbing under Superman’s nose, whose boyscout morality stopped him from using his x-ray vision on bathrooms. Vic went to work shutting them down one by one to send a message to The Subterraneans.
Vic eventually learned that they were working with Lex Luthor and his new master architect, Miles Van Vliet. They had created a new building, The Science Spire, which was connected to the Metropolis’ innate chi. Vic was drawn to the spire by his new powers and the chi spirit of a feng shui expert killed by Van Vliet. Vic ultimately took out The Subterraneans with the construction equipment at the base of the unfinished tower. He then buried Van Vliet in wet cement.
For his actions, Superman demanded he leave Metropolis. He abided, but first he made sure to leave files regarding crooked land deals to Lois Lane for her story on the spire.
Mentorship and Death
After the event of Infinite Crisis, Vic came to Gotham to investigate advanced weapons being trafficked by Intergang. He has just found out that he had lung cancer, and it had metastasized. In order to make sure The Question continued after his death, he took on disgraced GCPD detective Renee Montoya as his new protege. He pays her to keep an eye on a run down building by the docks, until someone shows up for the cache of weapons inside. They get more than they could nearly handle when a monster shows up. They connect the building’s lease to a company called Ridge-Ferrick Holding, one of many Intergang fronts. They break into their official offices and are confronted by more monsters. This time, they are saved by Gotham’s newest protector, Batwoman, Renee’s ex-girlfriend Kate Kane..
Their investigation brought them to Kahndaq where they stopped a teen girl convinced by Intergang to be a suicide bomber at the wedding of Black Adam and Isis. For their heroism, they are given The Order of the Crescent medal, the highest honor Kahndaq awards. With the face time they earn from Black Adam, they enter into an alliance to shut down Intergang’s re-education camps while they look for Isis’ brother, Amon. In gratitude, the Black Marvel family flew them to Nanda Parbat so they could unite with Vic’s allies, Tot and Richard Dragon. Tot would work on deciphering the Crime Bible they stole from Intergang, while Dragon would train Renee, like he did Vic (and Huntress) before.
Tot realizes that this new Religion of Crime is targeting a so-called “Daughter of Cain” that needs to be sacrificed in Gotham. Believing this to be Kate Kane, Renee demands that she and Vic get back to Gotham as fast as possible to warn her. Luckily, they are able to get to her before the Religion of Crime can, but Vic’s illness takes a turn for the worst.. He needed to be rushed to a hospital, and when that didn’t help, she attempted to get him back to Nanda Parbat, where its mysticism would prolong his life.
Unfortunately, they didn’t make it. Vic died a few steps from Nanda Parbat.
Sage is brought back from the dead by a Black Lantern ring and travels to the lighthouse that Rodor shares with Montoya. There, he attacks and easily bests Montoya and Lady Shiva, and toys with Rodor, who is fascinated by the possibility of learning about death from someone who has been there. He is defeated when Montoya, Shiva, and Rodor are able to release the emotions they feel for him and thus become invisible to him. He wanders away into the night.
The terrorist organization, Leviathan, under mysterious new leadership, dismantles the entire world intelligence community and targets Amanda Waller, Clark Kent, and Sam Lane. This gets the attention of some of the world’s greatest detectives, including The Question (mysteriously resurrected thanks to Rebirth). Batman and Lois Lane decide to gather them all together to compare notes at the last place secure enough from Leviathan, Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, but Leviathan was framing a number of red herrings, including detective team member, Manhunter (Kate Spencer), making it difficult to nail down his identity.
While discussing possible identities of the new leader, they were joined by Superman, who had caught the mastermind confronting Amand Waller. Leviathan had used a temporal weapon to subdue Superman and kidnap Waller. After receiving a distress call from Batgirl, who accepted a position in Leviathan to act as a mole, Lois split from the group to follow individual leads, while Vic and the others went to extract Batgirl. Superman (with Plastic Man) flew ahead, while the rest caught up in one of Batman’s vehicles.
Just as they started to put together that Leviathan must be a former Manhunter, Mark Shaw, they were caught off guard by Talia al Ghul and Silencer. She specifically wanted Kate Spencer, whose Manhunter gear was eavesdropping on the detectives. At this time, they were also joined by a second group of detectives that Lois Lane had working independently of the first. Together, Zatanna, member of the second group, teleported them to Leviathan Island where Superman and Plas were subdued. Mark Shaw, who had a contingency for everything, was able to get his organization away before the detectives could do anything.
Luckily, their work was not for nothing as Lois compiled it all for a news article exposing Mark Shaw to the world.
Leviathan makes a cash offer to the country of Markovia, becoming the new government. The intelligence agency, Checkmate, is rebuilt with members of the Leviathan investigation team, including The Question, by a man named Mr. King, who is secretly Kamandi from the future.
The Question was assigned protective duty of Lois Lane with Green Arrow, however, they were bested by Leviathan operative, Merlyn, who managed to hit Vic with an arrow while his team kidnapped Lois Lane. Lane was luckily in no danger. Shaw intended to convince her his organization was doing good, but he accidentally revealed to Lane his master plan, to break into the heroes network. This network was the last bit of technology that Leviathan hadn’t subverted: the shared operating system of the Fortress of Solitude, the Batcave, and the Hall of Justice.
The Question was among the members discussing how to protect the heroes network when their secret church headquarters was attacked by Leviathan. King teleported the church to Thailand, where Mark Shaw believed they were stranded. However, King was able to teleport them to the Hall of Justice basement, where they waited for Leviathan to make a move. They cut the power, signaling the mole they put on the new batch of interns, but Checkmate cornered her and stopped Leviathan’s plan.
In lieu of this failure, Leviathan turned on Mark Shaw and re-established Talia al Ghul as their leader. With Leviathan still active, the team also pitched Amanda Waller for funding and authority, which she agreed to under conditions.
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 185 lbs
- Eye Color: Blue
- Hair Color: Reddish blond
- Citizenship: American
- Place of Birth: Unknown, dropped at orphanage in Hub City
- Marital Status: Single
- Occupation: News anchor and journalist
- Known Relatives: None
- Distinguishing Features: Hair darkens when using the binary gas. Previously suffered from and eventually succumbed to lung cancer before reality was rewritten.
Powers and Abilities
Street Hero: The Question is a street hero, who has been trained in advanced martial arts and zen meditation by Richard Dragon.
- Genius Intellect: The Question is particularly clever and intelligent, which aids him in his abilities as a detective, a journalist, and a philosopher.
- Urban Shaman: Briefly, through the use of psychotropics, The Question was able to expand his awareness allowing him to communicate, in a matter of speaking, with the whichever city he was active in.
In both Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis multiverses, Earth-4 is typically saved for the shared universe previously published by Charlton Comics. This includes The Question and all the other heroes that inspired Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Earth-97 was the original Tangent universe before being replaced by Earth-9 during Multiversity. The Question was a wetworks assassin working for the JLA.
On Earth-9, the new Tangent Universe, a global surveillance network is named “The Question”.
The character of Rorschach was heavily based on the Question. This has lead to an interesting feedback loop where some interpretations of the Question after Watchmen’s release have tended towards displaying Rorschach-like qualities.
The Dark Knight Strikes Again
In the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, America is led by a holographic President that is installed by Lex Luthor and Brainiac, where Superman, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel are forced to work for the government and Batman went underground to train a new army of sidekicks and superheroes.
The Question was a technophobe vigilante, ironically taking inspiration from Rorschach, who was surveilling Lex Luthor. When he tries to convince a Martian Manhunter to come out of retirement, they are attacked by a new Joker. Manhunter dies, but The Question is saved by Green Arrow and joins Batman’s new army.
In the Flashpoint alternate universe, Vic Sage is a member of the Resistance.
In the New 52 reboot, Vic Sage never became the crime fighter, The Question. He was reimagined as a shady government stooge.
As the new leader of the Suicide Squad, Sage insists on the addition of new members, who he feels will better the team. This brings him into immediate conflict with Amanda Waller, with whom he develops an acrimonious working relationship. After an encounter with a representative of the Pearl Group, Sage begins to twist Squad missions to suit the ends of his new associates. Meanwhile, he out-maneuvers Waller, forcing her to join the team in the field. He attempts to expose Waller and the Squad to the public while casting himself as an innocent victim, but his machinations are uncovered by Waller. She manages to corner and defeat him, and he is taken into custody.
DC vs Vampires
In an elseworlds story, where the DC universe is plagued by a vampire outbreak, The Question is one of the many heroes turned into a vampire.
DC Showcase: Blue Beetle
The Question appears in a DC Comics short film about fellow DC character salvaged from Charlton Comics. It is a retro-inspired animation that is featured on the physical media releases of Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two.
He is voiced by David Kaye.
Justice League Unlimited
The Question made a number of appearances in the Justice League Unlimited animated series. He first appears in the episode “Fearful Symmetry,” and makes speaking appearances in a subsequent four episodes, as well as cameo appearances in five others.
He bears more than a passing resemblance to Rorschach and is noted in the series as a “crackpot” and paranoiac who is obsessively dedicated to an incredibly complex conspiracy theory that he believes dictates the course of human events. He is shown to have feelings towards Huntress and they become a couple at the end of the episode “Double Date.” Despite his eccentricities, he is acknowledged as a superb detective and is instrumental in uncovering important secrets in the series.
He is voiced by Jeffrey Combs.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
The Question appears in the cold opens of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episodes “Mystery in Space!” and “The Knights of Tomorrow!” He also appears in the episode proper of “Darkseid Descending!”
In his appearances, he speaks almost entirely in questions. He is voiced by Nicholas Guest.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
The Question is a playable character in this game. He is voiced by Liam O’Brien.