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The Question (Ditko take) (Charlton Comics)

Question

(Vic Sage) (Steve Ditko take)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“Vic Sage, crime busting trouble-shooting ace newscaster for Worldwide Broadcasting who, with the aid of Professor Rodor’s metamorphic chemicals and his ’faceless’ mask, becomes the nightstalking scourge of the underworld… the Question !”


Context

This version of the Question is the one that first appears in Blue Beetle volume 5 #1 in 1967. This is the original Question, who stars through this Steve Ditko run, published by Charlton.

There are multiple versions of the character, which can be confusing to beginners. If so we suggest you refer to our friendly (if faceless) guide to Questions.


Background

  • Real Name: Vic Sage
  • Other Aliases: Nick Rager
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: Employee of WWB (as Vic Sage)
  • Base Of Operations: Crown City
  • Height: 6’2” Weight: 185 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Reddish-blond (usually black when exposed to the gas)


Powers and Abilities

The Question is an incredible athlete and brawler, with some knowledge of the martial arts. He can engage half a dozen thugs and fisticuffs and wipe the floor with them.

He’s also a superior detective and investigative reporter. He always happens to have a lead so the action can move forward – and the lead is nearly always correct. Sage is clever, crafty and highly observant.

The Question stores a special mask and a release mechanism for a special gas in his belt buckle. Exposure to the gas allows the mask to adhere seamlessly to his face. The gas also changes the colour of specially treated hair and fibres. The Question usually has his hair go black, his suit light gray-blue, his shirt dark orange and his tie yellow.

Being suddenly exposed to the gas often startles opponents wrestling with the Question. Sage has also occasionally used small cartridges of gas built into his gloves to pretend he has some kind of smoking toxic touch of death. Criminal are a cowardly and superstitious lot, after all.

He also has been known to release the gas around himself and a person he’s interrogating. When doing so he implies that the gas has some sort of toxic, carcinogenic or mutagenic effect.

The Question (Vic Sage) puts on his mask, by Steve Ditko

Though he has innumerable enemies, Vic Sage has very strong allies within the municipal PD. He’s on first-name basis with at least one senior officer (Cpt. Lash). He can easily obtain favours such as police protection or a police raid starting on his signal, even though he’s a journalist.

The buildings in Crown City almost always have large edges outside of each floor. The Question uses this little fact to stealthily approach, back against the wall, and listen through open windows. No matter how much snow or rain might be falling, people almost always leave their windows open in Crown City.


History

Vic Sage is a hard-hitting newscaster for WorldWide Broadcasting Co. (WWB). This is an American TV station whose reputation hinges on its investigative reporting. WWB presents itself as an organisation willing to expose every form of injustice “whatever the risk… whatever the price !”.

Vic is not just a handsome anchorman. He’s one of WWB’s top reporters. He has a full, hard-working, loyal news staff working for him, including Nora Lace, Al Kert, Bob Hasel and Fred Pine. WWB is run by its founder, Sam Starr.

Before working for WWB, Sage was a newspaper reporter known for his investigations.

Sage’s powerful, politically-charged editorialising was highly controversial. Most WWB staffers were in favour of firing him to have a more neutral and smoother editorial line. But old Sam Starr was firm that Sage would stay as long as Starr would. He was proud of Sage’s take-no-prisoners journalistic work and radical, very public political stances.

Asking some tough questions

When his anger and thirst for justice demanded results, Vic Sage would become the two-fisted vigilante – the Question ! Using an incredible mask and a special gas designed by the genius, professor Rodor, Vic could become a faceless man. Furthermore his clothes slightly changed colour, protecting his secret identity.

The Question could dive in and take risks Vic Sage couldn’t. He could greatly advance investigations – or leave criminals beaten up for the police to find.

The Question (Vic Sage)'s calling card by Steve Ditko

During his work in Crown City, the Question ran into a variety of odd cases. There even were some costumed villains such as the flying thief called the Banshee, and a mysterious deep sea diver running around the city and drowning people. Most of his cases were more down-to-earth, though, involving corrupt businessmen, illegal gambling rings, people with dark secrets, etc.

Once, Sage had to change sponsors after the previous one decided to drop his association with the show. The one sponsor WWB managed to line up was a businessman with an excellent reputation. However the Question had seen the businessman meeting with a known criminal days before, and uncompromisingly rejected the sponsorship.

Feeling insulted, the businessman launched a vigourous smear campaign against Sage. Soon, what seemed to be the entire world campaigned against Sage. Nevertheless, he resolutely stuck with his convictions and worked even harder to prove that the would-be sponsor was involved with criminal interests, despite a complete lack of leads. One of his assistants, Al, was even framed for a murder.

At the last second, Sage proved that the businessman was a crook. He saved his show while getting to demonstrate his incredible resolve and adamant principles.

The fountainhead

The following few appearances of the Question were apparently out of any continuity. None were written by Ditko.

One such story had the Question face the return of a enemy thought to be dead – the Banshee. The next such story had the first known team up with another Charlton Action Hero – the Blue Beetle. The Beetle runs afoul of an high-tech criminal conspiracy that stole his Bug (an unique, sophisticated aircraft) despite the Question’s help.

The two heroes then banded together to defeat the numerous traps laid out by an old foe of the Beetle, the Enigma. The Enigma was seeking revenge after the Beetle sent him to prison for 10 years. He was defeated and the heroes recovered the Bug.

The next non-continuity story has the Question is teaming up with the Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and Nightshade as the “Sentinels of Justice”. They fight the Manipulator and his henchmen to save one Dr. Rockwell and his ground-breaking invention.

DC’s New Earth

At this point, the Question becomes part of the post-Crisis, unified DC Comics New Earth. “Crown City” is now Chicago, and there are various undocumented changes to the timeline. If that sounds cryptic, see our guide to the Questions.

When we see him again, Vic Sage is investigating a brand new Chicago-based vigilante, the Blue Beetle (Ted Kord). Both Sage and the Beetle are investigating the mysterious backer of the youths gang of South Chicago.

The Beetle and the Question soon ally during a huge brawl with gang members, becoming instant allies. Their fightin’ and their investigatin’ eventually take them to the scene of the attempted organisation of the South Chicago youth gangs by Muse. Muse is seemingly killed during a clash with the mob, closing the case.

The Question (Vic Sage) splash page by Steve Ditko

What happened later is not entirely clear. Several months or years go by off-panel. Vic Sage may have begun to investigate his own origins. As we learn, he’s an orphan whose actual name is Charles Victor Szasz, though he has been going by Vic Sage forever and considers it to be his real name.

He leaves Chicago and WWB. Sage briefly works in Gotham and then St. Louis, apparently following a paper trail toward his origins. Eventually he comes back to Hub City, where he grew up and now thinks he was born.

While in Gotham, Vic fought crime as the Question – namely, smugglers carrying nuclear material. During this case, he teamed up with Batman. Batman was infuriated by the self-centered dilettante fighting crime in ’his’ city. Yet, he grudgingly admitted that the Question had some potential and could do some good. Preferably elsewhere.

Hub City

In Hub, Sage starts working for KBEL TV and dating the anchorwoman of the station, Myra Connelly. He discovers that the city has entered a rapid spiral of decay in recent decades. It is now deeply corrupt and broken down. Mayor Fermin and his ally Reverend Hatch run this crap show.

The Question (Vic Sage) transforms, by Steve Ditko

Joined in Hub by Professor Rodor, Vic Sage starts forcefully exposing local corruption cases. He also becomes a smoker for a while, in part to cope with the increasing stress of his life.

Given the amount of trouble he generates, Sage, as the Question, is then captured and killed by Hatch’s henchmen.

Could it be the end ? Stay tuned on KBEL TV for more shocking exposes !


Description

See illustration.


Personality

Sage is intensely driven. His job as both a journalist and the Question can be called a crusade for truth. He’s angry about society’s weaknesses in letting bad guys prosper in its midst. As a result, he is out on the warpath to do something about it by any mean necessary, 24/7.

Sage is direct, curt, bossy and very impatient. On the other hand he has genuine charisma and strength of personality, as well as an almost palpable sincerity.

The Question is a throwback to the 1940s school of hard man vigilantism in a generally liberal area. He won’t lift a finger to prevent the death of a villain (even if the bad guy is a simple thief), considering that “they got what they deserved.”

Sage is *absolutely* uncompromising in his work. He rejects criticism and pressure in a brusque, arrogant way that is the antithesis of diplomacy. It doesn’t matter whether a more tactful and less in-your-face approach would serve his long term interests. Such as, say, keeping his job.

If a criminal offers to bribe the Question or to cut some sort of deal, the faceless vigilante will laugh his head off and punch the bad guy out. He will never, ever take the easy way out or make the slightest exception to his principles, no matter what the consequences. He’s always absolutely certain he can handle anything, and never backs off.

The Question (Vic Sage) puts on his mask in Blue Beetle

Sage seems very unpopular with liberal activist groups, who campaign to have him fired from WWB, because… because… well, I don’t know. Crown City seems to have a large population of corrupt cowards with weird opinions and an obsession with making craven compromises at any cost. I assume is how some Objectivists see the imaginary progressives in their head.

Sage’s view of society is as a simplistic as it gets. Things are either black or white, and people (and governments) are either good or bad. Anything more complicated than a person has no rights and does not exist as an entity. Anything ’good‘ must absolutely refuse to deal with anything ’bad‘ to avoid corruption.

During his 1986 appearances, he was happily trading quips with the Blue Beetle. This appearance of the Question was more light-hearted than usual, but not jarringly so. Plus, working with the Beetle tends to have that effect on people.


Quotes

(Broadcasting on WWB as Vic Sage) “The hunt for Lou Dicer continues… and, as usual, you, the enraged public, wonders how a leech like Dicer and his ilk can thrive so readily among you !” (beat) “How many of *you* willingly support Dicer’s illegal gambling operations ? How many of *you* frequent his gaming tables… or play a number daily ? You don’t need their kind… they need *you* ! Only *you* can keep them in business !”

“I saved you for last ! Now talk !”

“The Question can do the job and disappear whereas Vic Sage would be tied up telling and retelling what happened to every inquisitive soul !”

“You got it wrong ! Prison is not where I want to send you ! It’s the electric chair. You worked hard to prove you deserved to sit in it !”

The Question (Vic Sage) just after the Crisis

“Everybody take off early and get a good night’s sleep ! In the morning we’re going to start digging and we’re not going to stop till we get the animal who was behind that attack !”

“You’re both crazy if you think I’d risk my neck to save the likes of you ! As far as I’m concerned, you’re just so much sewage ! And you deserve to be right where you are !” (the two criminals are swept away to their likely death in the flooded sewer as the Question watches)

“Honest men don’t deal with known thieves. It can only lead to corrupting that which is honest !”

“If anyone’s going to stand with me, he’s going to have to give me a good reason why ! I won’t accept the lame reasons about my being the underdog, every misfit can claim that ! Or that I need help, I’m not a charity case ! I’ll accept only a reason why you personally want to make the stand and on your behalf, not mine !”

“Not until the courts close the loopholes in prosecution and plea-bargaining laws, will Americans be safe from punks like you !” (punches out two thugs in one blow)

(As a small army of street thugs jump him) “The only thing I need, punk, is a few answers… and before I’m through here, I intend to have them !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The Question

Dex: 07 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Justice (and a dash of Thrill)
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 09 Occupation: Journalist, anchorman
Inf: 07 Aur: 06 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 026 HP: 050

Skills:
Acrobatics: 05, Charisma: 07, Detective (Legwork): 07, Martial artist*: 07, Scientist (Research): 05, Thief (Stealth): 05, Vehicles (Land): 05

Advantages:
Buddies (Nora Lace, Professor Rodor), Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Schtick (Goonbane)

Connections:
WWB News Staff (Low), Street (Low), Crown City Police Department (Low), Blue Beetle (Low)

Drawbacks:
Secret Identity, SIA toward being Uncompromsing, MIA toward Black And White Morality

Equipment:

  • QUESTION BELT BUCKLE [BODY 02, Colour: 01, Flash: 05, Fog: 01, Limitation: Colour only for prepared change to specially treated fibres ; Fog has No Range ; Flash can be Combined With and is active throughout Fog, but is only effective in the case of a sudden and unexpected exposure to gas.]
  • QUESTION GLOVES [BODY 03]. Those high-quality leather gloves seem to have small cartridges of the same gas as in the belt buckles. This just allows the Question to emit a small rolling cloud of viscous gas from one or both hands, which is quite successful as part of a Bluff Interaction Manoeuvre on his Charisma (Intimidation) attempts where he implies this is some kind of horrible poison gas.
  • Question calling cards (x8) [BODY 01, Colour: 01, Limitation: Colour only on itself, as a predetermined pattern]. Those look like plain white cards – larger than a modern business card – but when somebody holds them without wearing gloves they start smoking and a pattern appears – usually they become yellow with a burnt orange question mark. Some cards are laced with a dose of Question gas [Flash: 03, Fog: 01, Fog has No Range ; Flash can be Combined With and is active throughout Fog, but is only effective in the case of a sudden and unexpected exposure to gas]
  • Business cards (x6) [BODY 01]. Being a journalist, Sage nearly always carry some business cards on his person. A clever trick is that the Question gas also changes the printing on his cards – when he’s the Question his cards are to the name of Nick Rager, with an out-of-state address. Presumably they revert to Vic Sage of WWB cards when exposed to the gas again, but not otherwise. This little ruse is chiefly useful when the Question is captured.
  • TRICK BELT [BODY 04, Stretching: 02]. The buckle is not the only special thing about the Question belt – with a small manipulation it can unravel into a one-piece line – apparently about ten meters of stout line. Sage knows the usual boy scout knots, making a piece of rope quite useful.
  • Smoke bombs (x4) [BODY 01, Fog: 04, Grenade Drawback]. Those do not seem to be part of his normal kit, but he keeps a set at home and will bring them if he thinks he might have to use them.

Love blonde

Nora Lace is Sage’s main assistant – and his frustrated love interest. She heads Sage’s journalistic muck-racking team, and Nora and the team have Scientist (Research): 05 and Detective (Legwork): 05. If needed the team can Team Attack with Sage on those subjects.

Nora’s dedication toward Sage’s crusade is nothing short of fanatical. She’ll face capture, beatings and presumably torture without saying a single word to keep her boss’s secrets and safety intact.

The Question (Vic Sage)'s staff by Steve Ditko


Discrepancies

During one of his 1986 appearances, the Question demonstrates Acrobatics: 08 instead of his usual level. I’ve kept it out of the main stats block since it is way more impressive than anything he ever did. It is possible he improved his Skill via Character Advancement between the Ditko appearances and the Crisis.

A caption in the 1975 story refers to a 1967 story has having happened ’eight years’ ago. Of course the real-time timeline this would imply becomes impossible by the time of the Question’s further appearances. That caption is considered, as the Marvunapp.com crew  would say, to be topical.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Charlton comics (and a few DC appearances)

Helper(s): Civafan2, Peter Pisspanen, Darci, Frank Murdock

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