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Question (Renee Montoya) (DC Comics) tag

Question

(Renee Montoya profile #4)


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

Context

This profile for Renee Montoya is part of a chronological series. The series is full of S P O I L E R S and should be read in order for it to make sense. It goes:

  1. Renee Montoya – the 1990s
  2. Renee Montoya – the early 2000s
  3. Renee Montoya – early Question (this here writeup)

At the time of this writeup we have reached the third issue of Final Crisis and the second of Final Crisis: Revelations. A lot of stuff about what happens after Crime Bible is thus still unknown as of this writing.

Not the Question you were looking for ? See our guide to versions of The Question for help.


Background

  • Real Name: Renee Montoya
  • Other Aliases: Pacita Trujillo, Renee Vasquez, the Faceless, Faithless
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Hernando Montoya (estranged father), Louisa Montoya (estranged mother), Benjamin “Benny” Montoya (brother), unnamed cousin, unnamed goddaughter
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: A lighthouse (location unrevealed)
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Eyes: Golden brown with green reflections Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

On top of all of her previous experience, Renee is now an exceptional martial artist, with a unique style. It is a strange mix between acrobatic wushu kung fu, streetfighting, wing chun, capoeira and others.

She is very fast, agile and lithe in combat. But the elegance is superficial, as her style is actually brutal and effective. She packs a lot of power into her moves and does not hesitate to break joints and limbs.

Her style is unusually flexible. It features numerous kicks, elbow strikes, punches, backhands, arm locks… as well as an unknown numbers of weapons mastered, including the staff. Her musculature is now that of a champion kickboxer, and she can do kung fu things like swatting aside large, very sharp knives thrown at her or running over the heads of a surprised crowd.

She tends to stay very mobile when fighting or moving around. This makes her difficult to hit, including for opponents who are currently flanking her or even in her back. She is more acrobatic than Charlie was, perhaps to compensate for her lower body mass.

The way she moves and fights is somewhat reminiscent of Tony Jaa’s screen performance in Ong Bak and other action movies. Only with wushu and some capoeira moves instead of characteristic muay thai strikes.

Detective comics

Renee, like Charlie before her, is calm, collected, confident and very curious – she simply has to know the truth. This and her superior fighting skills come on top of the courage and compassion she has always demonstrated.

This newfound harmony and confidence, as well as lessons from Charlie before he died, allow her to seamlessly pull off at an expert level feats she could only vaguely do as a detective.

  • She could sneak around based on her investigative experience – but now she’s a pretty good ninja type who can silently ghost through the shadows.
  • She used to be able to lie and manipulate out of police experience – now she’s an excellent actor who would make many deep cover detectives proud.
  • She knew the basics about security cameras – now she can deftly sabotage them and excels at spotting security systems and secret passages – Charlie knew a lot about B&E.

Just like Charlie before her, Renee is an action hero, not a super-hero. Against world-class martial artist like Batwoman, she’s going to have her arse handed to her, and she’s no Batman when it comes to detection work. But she’s at least as competent as most detectives, martial artists, brawlers and secret agents in movies and TV series, and she keeps learning.


History, part 1

(This is continued from the previous profile).

In Nanda Parbat, Renee met with Charlie’s best friend, professor Aristotle “Tot” Rodor. She also started training with Richard Dragon – thought to be the greatest martial artist and teacher on Earth since the death of the O-Sensei.

While Charlie had given her numerous occasions to start answering the question he kept asking her (“who are you ?”), Dragon cornered her and did not let her go. He forced her to look at herself and deal with her monstrous levels of guilt by accepting everything that had happened and her role in it.

Though she was going through an extremely intensive physical, mental and spiritual regimen and was unable to ascertain the passing of time, Renee closely followed the work of Tot in deciphering the Bible of Crime. She also noticed that Charlie was dying.

Cancer

While he initially denied it, Charlie eventually admitted that he was suffering from a terminal and thoroughly metastasised lung cancer. It had been silently developing for years. He would die soon – though Tot and Richard were treating him to ease his final weeks.

Renee realised they were here at once :

  • for Charlie to die
  • for her to gain acceptance about herself and grow beyond her self-destructive mania
  • and for the Question mantle to pass from him to her

As Tot worked on the Bible of Crime, he determined that prophesied major events were supposed to happen fairly soon in Gotham. Renee recognised the prophecy as an injunction to kill Batwoman (Kate Kane), and she and Charlie rushed to Gotham to warn her.

Batwoman, Renee and Charlie confronted Intergang leader and Religion of Crime prophet Bruno Mannheim at a coven, but he escaped. Kane allowed Montoya and Sage to stay at her place, arranging for personal medical care for Charlie. Renee spent her time with her fading mentor and mended some bridges with Kane. She and Kate even briefly rekindled their relationship.

Back to Nanda Parbat

Charlie’s terminal cancer then took a sudden turn for the worse. Unable to accept his impending death, Renee had Kate charter one of her private jets to Nepal. She wanted to get Charlie back to Nanda Parbat in the desperate hope that some mystical treatment could prolong his life.

The Question (Renee Montoya) meditating over clues

This Quixotic, unrealistic quest ended with Renee lost high in hostile mountains without supplies, backup or visibility and with all the morphine injectors for Charlie gone. Still refusing to lose another partner, Renee was dragging Charlie’s sled alone in a snowstorm when the Question briefly recovered his full lucidity.

He told her of two things – that his death was something that she should now accept, and that the question he kept asking her was a trick question. It was never about who she was, but rather about who she was going to be. Charlie then died and the snowstorm cleared, with Renee discovering she was right by the gate of Nanda Parbat.

The sifu and the princess

Renee resumed her training with Richard. But he treated her harshly, telling her that she had not made any progress and was still refusing face herself.

Though Renee protested, Richard knew that she had merely found a new escape, trading sex and alcohol for kung-fu training and meditation. Yet the proper way to honour Charlie’s memory was to face the questions she lacked the courage to address.

Disheartened, Renee timidly tried to chat up an incredibly beautiful traveller in Nanda Parbat to lift her spirits up. The woman (who Renee did not recognise as Wonder Woman) showed a startling understanding of her plight and gave her the courage to do what Dragon demanded, by showing her how her curiosity was greater than her fear.

Inspired by the Amazon princess, Renee retreated to Richard’s cave, to meditate in the darkness and finally face herself.

When Renee finally opened her eyes to see her true visage in Dragon’s mystical ice cavern, it was entirely featureless, just like the Question’s.

Formulating the question

When an eternal flower that Isis had given her in Kahndaq disintegrated, Renee realised that Isis was dead. Richard and Tot encouraged her to leave to investigate, as was her nature. Tot gave her some Question gear, and though she still refused to wear the mask she accepted to wear Charlie’s hat.

Renee went to Kahndaq to mourn Isis and talk to Black Adam. But he was already too far gone into murderous insanity to listen to her, and he flew away. Montoya then went back home to Gotham and to Kate – only to discover that the Religion of Crime had deduced Batwoman’s identity from their unholy text, and kidnapped her in her apartment.

The RoC was now going for what they hoped to be the big finale. That meant the prophesied destruction of Gotham by plunging it into Earth’s crust through demolition devices, and the sacrifice of the “twice-named daughter of Cain”, Batwoman. All of this was believed to allow for opening a gateway to Hell.

Montoya allied with Nightwing and heretical RoC cultist Kyle Abbot. She had them disarm the numerous weapons of mass destruction the cult had planted throughout Gotham while she’d concentrate on saving Kane. As they split up Renee finally put on her Question face.

She came in a tad too late and saw Mannheim plunge a sacrificial dagger into Kane’s heart. Batwoman survived, and saved Renee as she was fighting with Mannheim — by hurling the dagger into the crime boss’s back. Using her mask to staunch the wound, Renee rushed Kate to an hospital, and her ex narrowly survived the ordeal.

The Crime Bible

Once she was told that the unconscious Kate would make it, Renee left to continue her work to become the Question.

The Question (Renee Montoya) kicks a tall security guard

Renee studied for one more year under Richard in Nanda Parbat. She also read the Crime Bible and Tot’s exegesis of it. But the book exerted a preternatural fascination on her, and she grew determined to own the third known copy of the Bible after reading the first two.

Though she kept telling herself that she wanted to fight the Religion of Crime to prevent them from murdering Kate, it slowly became apparent that she just craved for knowledge about evil. In particular she wanted to learn about the prophesied religious figure of Faithless, who strongly resembled her.

Renee also briefly appeared in Gotham, working with Batwoman to investigate the activities of the Tricketer and the Pied Piper. The continuity status of this is unclear.

Five books of blood

Renee’s investigation into the Dark Faith following the tenets of the Crime Bible was well-run. She used legwork, infiltration through cover identities and acting work, B&E and stealth, manipulation of the underworld, etc. She discovered the impressive extent of the Dark Faith’s activities, which extended beyond even the numerous activities of Intergang.

However, despite the professionalism of the Question’s investigation, she had been detected by Flay. Flay was the senior monk within the Dark Faith’s most influential organisation, the Order of Stone. He likely accomplished this by using the unholy texts which seemed to prophesise the Question’s actions through the character of Faithless.

Flay manipulated Montoya by having her investigation thematically walk through the four pillars of the Dark Faith – deceit, lust, greed and finally murder, the highest pillar. His hope was that, as prophesied, the Faceless/Faithless would gain a great understanding of the faith and become a new mistress and prophetess of the Religion of Crime.


Interlude – the Crime Bible

The Religion of Crime, or Dark Faith, is a well-established, influential, but mostly covert faith on the DC Earth. It was inspired by the New Gods of Apokolips, perhaps as part of visions inspired by fragments of the Anti-Life Equation.

In some respects it looks like a perverted, heretical form of Christianity. But this seems to largely be the result of a syncretism between it and early, unrelated forms of Satanism. The key religious figure of the RoC is Cain, who has been confirmed by the Spectre to be the same person as the one in the Christian Bible’s Genesis.

The Dark Faith reveres Cain as the first murderer. Other murderers from classic literary sources and history are also revered, but Cain is special.

The key part of their holy text, the Crime Bible, is the Five Books of Blood. These contain theology about the four key “virtues” of the Religion, which they call sins. These are Deceit, Lust, Greed and Murder.

The twice-named daughter and the faithless

The Dark Faith and its prophets (including Bruno “Ugly” Mannheim, Intergang’s boss) have many prophecies. An important one involves the “twice-named daughter of Cain”. It was decided that this metaphor was about the Kane sisters – Kane being an homophone of Cain, and the “twice-named” thing being about identical twins.

This is apparently what led to the kidnapping attempt 20 years ago, and the murder of Gabi Kane.

Unsettlingly, an important character in the Five Books of Blood is a woman named Faithless. The cult decided that it was Renee Montoya, now know as the Question (as “Faithless” is an homophone of “faceless”) and an important relationship in Kate Kane’s life.

The illustration of the “twice-named daughter of Cain” in the unholy text does look strikingly like Kate Kane to boot, with blood on her chest that evokes a bat logo.

Prophecies

The interpretation of the prophecy about the Kanes evolved. The prevalent interpretation of the Book of Lillith (containing the prophecy) became that on a specific date, the first apostle of Cain would murder the twice-named daughter. This would both facilitate the return of Cain and open a gateway to Hell in Gotham City. Thus, the death of Batwoman was a key objective for the Dark Faith.

After it failed, an heresy developed that considered that Batwoman’s survival was preordained. The correct interpretation of their scripture now was that twice-named daughter was to live. The Cain Heresy, led by Kyle Abbot (a werewolf) is considered to be deadly enemies by the mainstream Religion of Crime.

Another different interpretation of the prophecy was produced by a British coven of RoC. They agreed that Batwoman was the Twice-Named Daughter, but thought that the place of sacrifice should be the heart of London.


History, part 2

In London, Renee met with a professor who was secretly a member of the Faith. He planned, though a game of death and deceit, to create major media exposure for the Dark Faith. After approaching him under the pretence of being a student she managed to foil the plan and save lives.

Flay, a master of the martial arts, then engaged Renee in combat to stop her from interfering. She proved to be at least as adept as he was, more or less winning the duel. However, Renee’s whole undercover investigation confirmed her deft hand with one of the core sins of the Dark Faith – Deceit.

Lust

Renee continued to work her leads from Barcelona to Maryland. She located a brothel run by the Order of Lilith, dedicated to upholding the Pillar of Lust within the Dark Faith. This bordello was dedicated to bringing senior civil servants into the Faith, and had been fairly successful in gaining pull throughout the US gov’t.

Using a cover identity as a Dept. of State FS-6 employee, Renee gained access to the brothel. She learned who was their current main target for religious conversion – an adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Question also discovered the secret temple below the brothel, stopped the Pentagon man from being initiated into the cult.

The Question (Renee Montoya) deflects a thrown knife

She further set the place on fire, urging the prostitutes who were not hardcore Dark Faith members to flee.

During this leg of her journey Renee, despite her efforts to leave her old demons behind her, found herself very attracted toward one of the prostitutes, named Elicia. She ended up having sex with her. She soon came to regret that decision, as she no longer saw herself as a shallow and flighty womaniser. But that was one more step along her stealth initiation into the Faith, as she knew Lust again.

Greed

Flay then came to Gotham. He had the Penguin organise an underworld auction of the third copy of the Crime Bible, which Renee coveted – clearly demonstrating Greed. Thus did the Question reluctantly come to Gotham, after picking up some leads about the sale in Frankfurt.

After putting some flowers on Cris Allen’s grave, Renee resumed her investigations. Hating to be back in Gotham and increasingly obsessed by finding the best copy of the Crime Bible, Renee used some GCPD contacts and Kate’s help in accomplishing her goals, but kept everyone at arm’s length.

This particularly hurt Batwoman, who was still in love with Renee after so many years. Renee’s greed and disengagement did not even pay off, since the magical protections of the copy of the Crime Bible she obtained meant that the pages were rendered blank.

The dregs of the world, part 1

By that point, Tot had also left Nanda Parbat. He discovered that Charlie had bequeathed a lighthouse in the US to him and Renee. Montoya and Rodor did not get along particularly well. Still, they tried working together out of respect for Charlie’s memory, and a common interest in the mystery of the Crime Bible.

Reports that policemen were being serially murdered in Hub City, and that the City’s Mayor (Myra Fermin, the great love of Charlie’s life) had nearly been killed reached Tot and the new Question. Assuming that this was a trap by the Dark Faith, Renee investigated.

It was a trap after a fashion. Fermin had not actually been wounded but faked those reports along with her chief of police, Izzy O’toole. Their goal was to summon the Question back to Hub to help with the cop murders, since they couldn’t reach him. When Myra saw Renee as the Question, she immediately knew that Charlie was dead.

Renee soon cracked the case, using O’toole as a willing bait for the Dark Faith agent among the HCPD. She stopped the murderous cultist, but the man fled, only to be killed by Flay. The Religion of Crime monk claimed that the cultist’s death was her fault, and that she has thus given in to the last key sin of the RoC, Murder.

He then gave her 4 weeks to come at a rally point (not far from Kamla Char, in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh) lest the Faith murder everybody Renee Montoya held dear.

The dregs of the world, part 2

In Bangladesh, the Question confronted Flay at the temple of the Order of Stone. Though she agreed that reading the Word of the Dark Faith had changed her, she calmly rebuked the claims that Flay had walked her through the four pillars.

She had practised deceit, but only to seek the truth ; she had succumbed to lust, but regretted it ; she had acted with greed, but to protect Kate ; and she had been involved in a murder, but offered mercy.

Flay tried to fight the Question to the death as prophesied, but she refused. He forced her hand by threatening to kill Elicia, the prostitute Renee had slept with back in Maryland. The Question won the duel but refused to kill Flay. The mad monk lunged on her from behind whilst she was checking Elicia’s wound, and the Question’s reflexive parry accidentally resulted in Flay falling to his death.

Seeing in this the confirmation that she was truly Faithless, the character in the Crime Bible, the cultists accepted her as the new mistress of the Order of Stone, as prophesied.

Faithless

What happened during the time where the Question was an unwilling leader of the Religion of Crime is unrevealed as of this writing. She later mentioned that they forced her to do terrible things before she managed to escape.

Resuming her fight against the Dark Faith, which she now knew from the inside, the Question found the crux of the incoming apocalypse (the Dark Side Club in Metropolis). She then managed to steal the Spear of Destiny to prevent the Religion of Crime from using it to summon Cain to Earth. These events are still ongoing as of this writeup.


Description

Renee dresses mostly in practical, rugged clothing. She’s usually in jeans, a shirt, a leather jacket and leather boots. She very often wears Charlie’s old fedora, and occasionally wears his trench coat. She looks more relaxed and rested than she has been in, literally, years and is back to being quite striking.

Though, technically, she could change the colour of her hair when she becomes the Question, she never does. If, as I suspect, the formula can only make her hair darker, it’s going to be pointless anyway.


Personality

Renee is no longer the quiet and compassionate young officer who wants to help people. But neither is she the overstressed and self-destructive star detective of the MCU who has been through too much bad stuff and was wrecked by her need for justice. So, who is she ?

Good question.

Things did not congeal neatly when Renee put on the mask after being trained in the martial arts. She’s still on her quest to determine who she will become, and has few answers so far. As she went very deep into despair and self-destruction, the way back up is long and difficult. This is not something that can be solved solely by kung-fu training and meditation, even with Richard Dragon.

Renee is very wary of her past, perhaps because she’s afraid it might bring her back her old demons. For now she needs to be free and forward-looking. Her work means she has had to briefly get back in touch with the GCPD, but in those occasions she has behaved in a strongly evasive and avoidant way. She could banter a bit with Sawyer but pretty much dodged Gordon and Bullock as well as she could.

She also, to some extend, avoids Kate – though she knows Kate loves her and she reciprocates this feeling, Renee is simply not in a state where she can allow herself to be in a relationship. This is not easy for her, as she yearns for companionship and seems lonely.

The Question (Renee Montoya) delivers a kick

From time to time Renee is tempted to be like Charlie – smart, funny, enigmatic, wise, with cool mysterious one-liners, appearing from nowhere to ask strange questions. But she knows she’s not Charlie, and Tot knows she is not Charlie.

Like Charlie, however, curiosity and a desire to learn the truth have become her clear, profound nature – the truth about herself, about others and about the world. If there is some kind of mystery in front of her, she just has to investigate and plumb its depths.

Passions

Renee has rid herself of many of the means she used to destroy herself and deface her self-image. She has not smoked or imbibed since she reached Nanda Parbat. She still can be tempted into mindless sex and violence, but after her brushes with the Dark Faith she has determined that it was not who she was, and regretted giving in and getting distracted by those.

Her main problems remain guilt and compassion. She’s still liable to feel guilty over bad stuff happening around her, feeling she could have done something more to prevent it.

While we don’t know what happened in Bangladesh, Renee, after escaping, is now channelling Charlie. In fact her quips and one-liners and constant banter are beyond Charlie’s style and reach Spider-Man-written-by-Peter-David levels. This seems to be a defensive attitude, as she hinted her involuntary time with the Faith had been something terrible.

At this point, even being subjected to the Anti-Life Equation and thus nearly losing her free will before being teleported away by the Spectre hosted by her deceased friend will only trigger a shrug, an amusing quip… and some questions.


Quotes

Nightwing: “You used to be a detective, didn’t you ?‘
Montoya: “I’m still a detective.”

Kate Kane: “Where’d your face go ?”
The Question: “You’re looking at it.”

“I should’ve seen it. I could’ve stopped it.”

(Appearing from nowhere behind an enemy guard) “Excuse me… is there anyplace around here I can fix my face ?”

Renee: “Richard’s a… a good teacher. The kind who lets you learn things on your own.”
Kate: “And what’d you learn ?”
Renee: “That I had questions. A lot of questions.”

“I have come for answers.”

Flay: “Take what is yours. Finish me.”
Renee: “I wouldn’t kill the man who murdered my partner. What makes you so special ?”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Renee Montoya

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Seeking the Truth
Int: 07 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 022 HP: 030

Skills:
Acrobatics*: 06, Artist (Actress): 04, Charisma: 06, Detective (Legwork): 06, Detective (Police procedure): 05, Martial artist: 06, Medicine (First aid): 04, Thief (Stealth): 06, Thief (Locks and Safes, Pickpocket, Security systems): 05, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee)*: 06

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Gotham City), Familiarity (police investigation techniques and equipment, urban survival, personal security, philosophy, Crime Bible), Language (Spanish), Lightning Reflexes, Sharp Eye, Very Rich Friend (Kate Kane), Rich Friend (Tot)

Connections:
Professor Aristotle “Tot” Rodor (Low), Kate Kane (aka Batwoman, High)

Drawbacks:
MIA toward curiosity

Equipment:

  • Early on Renee still uses her disintegration gun (from the previous writeup), but she loses it after she saves Kate from sacrifice.
  • As the Question, she carries her pseudoderm mask and binary gas dispenser in her BELT BUCKLE [BODY 02, Colour: 01, Fog: 02, Limitation: Colour only for prepared changes to specially treated fibres ; Fog has No Range].
    Exposure to the gas will change the colour of specially treated clothes, and can also change the colour of her hair if she uses a special shampoo. The gas is thick, opaque and has some viscous quality to it, and the Question occasionally uses it as a smoke charge to disappear in a cloud or block line of sight.

Books of Sin

As of this writing, many of the events that follow Renee finding herself as the leader of the Dark Faith are still unchronicled, and the Final Crisis events have yet to be fully understood. However, Montoya seems to have gained an Expertise (or may be even a Scholar) in the theology of the Dark Faith, as she may be the best expert on the subject who still retains their free will.

She seems also headed toward Martial Artist: 07, though the data is not hard enough to say for sure.

By Sébastien Andrivet and Mike Winkler

Source of Character: DC Universe (Batman books)

Helper(s): Matthias Brauer and Michael Andrew for v1 ; vicsage.com for the Rucka interview

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