Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Question: Zen and Violence

The Question Vol. 1: Zen and Violence The Question Vol. 1: Zen and Violence by Dennis O'Neil

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first became acquainted with The Question on The Justice League Unlimited animated show on Cartoon Network. I was intrigued. He wears a mask that gives him a face with no features. The Question is sort of a more philosophical (and less badass) Batman. He's a crusader against injustice and corruption, who doesn't mind using his fists, although he's also very cerebral.

This was a good introduction to him in the graphic novel/comics form. I liked seeing how he goes from being rather brash and unorganized in his pursuits, to becoming more spiritually focused and more of a deadly weapon, when necessary. This is very much in the crime drama genre, but with little bits of supernatural elements mixed in, since The Question comes back from the dead.

Zen and Violence uses the common villain of the evil, corrupt church member. I'm not sure how I feel about that. As a Christian, I do take exception to Christians almost always being portrayed as crazy, evil, hypocritical, and megalomanical, more than we are shown as being mere humans on a spiritual journey. We don't seem to get the same even-handed approach as the other religions (which seem more palatable in the media and the humanities as a whole). On the other hand, I respect that there are members of the clergy and so-called Christians who do give credence to the bad reputation of those who profess to follow Christ. It wasn't a deal-breaker, but more of a somewhat painful pinch to me as I read this story, since the only obvious Christian in this story was the most evil, craziest character. But, sadly, I've grown used to this (not sure if that's good or bad).

I was in the mood for a quick graphic novel read, and I enjoyed this. I liked the noir elements, and I'm a sucker for brainy, crime-fighting martial arts practitioners (Batman, Deadpool, and Daredevil anyone?). Although this was not a five star book, I'd like to read more stories about The Question, since I like my heroes on the edgy, yet thoughtful side.

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