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 current Question, see The Question.
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.
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.
Major Story Arcs
The Question is Born
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, 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.
Cry for Blood
Sage spends some time in Gotham, and takes a professional and romantic interest in Huntress, in whom he sees a reflection of himself. He brings her to Richard Dragon for training in the hopes of moulding her into a better crime fighter, a hope which is continually frustrated by her casual attitude towards murder as a means to an end.
Sage is re-imagined as a semi-mystical visionary who utilizes the binary gas (re-imagined as a hallucinogen) to enter into trances that allow him to "communicate" with cities. He also practices a questionable moral code that allows for murder when he feels it is justified, and he often treats enemies brutally. While using the gas, he detects a plot by Lex Luthor to assassinate Superman, and foils it. Superman expresses gratitude for the rescue, but forces Sage from the city because of his flexible morals when it comes to murder.
Sage makes contact with Renee Montoya, who he hires to observe a warehouse being used by Intergang to smuggle weapons. Eventually it is revealed that Sage is dying of lung cancer, and wishes to train Montoya as his successor and to help her understand who she truly is. He has her train in Nanda Parbat with his mentors, Dragon and Rodor, while also working with her in Gotham to discover the Religion of Crime's plot. Sage's condition begins to deteriorate, and Montoya attempts to return him to Nanda Parbat, under the belief that he will not die so long as he is there. They fail to locate the city in time, and Sage succumbs to his cancer in the snow just outside the city, passing on the identity of the Question to Montoya.
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.
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-manoeuvres 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.
Powers and Abilities
Vic Sage has no known superhuman powers or abilities. He appears to be fairly intelligent and conniving.
An unnamed character who resembles Sage briefly appears on Earth-4 along with a number of other characters who similarly resemble original Charlton properties.
On Earth-9 a global surveillance network is named "The Question". It is possible that other variations of the character exists on other Earths.
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.
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Question appears as a technophobe and vigilante who works for Batman's cause.
In the Flashpoint alternate universe, Vic Sage is a member of the Resistance.
Vic Sage appears as a main character alongside other Charlton characters in this Earth 4 alternate continuity story.
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 unraveling a conspiracy and 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.