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Top Five Most Iconic Question Covers

Here are the top five most iconic covers featuring The Question (with iconic being determined partially subjectively by what covers are called to mind when one thinks of The Question, but first being determined with a prominent objective standard of whether a cover is homaged a lot or featured a lot in histories of the character). The notable exception is no covers from a character’s first appearance (which isn’t applicable to all characters, of course, just those who appeared on the cover of the comic they debuted in)! Here‘s a list of all characters featured so far.

Enjoy!

Today’s my fiancée’s birthday, and the Question is her favorite character, so voilà!

5.

Artist: Carlo Barberi

If the Question had a ton of famous covers, I wouldn’t think of including this one, but since he doesn’t, I figure it’s only fair to give a cover to acknowledge how important the Justice League cartoon was to the Question character. There are basically four different Questions, and this is one of them.

4.

Artist: JG Jones

This is basically the intro of another of the four Questions, the first one who’s actually a whole other person, Renee Montoya.

This is a very memorable cover by JG Jones.

3.

Artist: Alex Toth

This is the first of the Questions, and it is an iconic representation of the character by a comic book legend.

2.

Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz

This is the fourth of the Questions, the Denny O’Neil Question, and this brilliant Sienkiewicz ably introduced this Question.

1.

Artist: Steve Ditko

This, though, is the clear #1.

The first cover appearance of the Question is also the most familiar Question image AND it beautifully demonstrates the Question’s deal all in one cover.

Wow.

41 Comments

Geez is that Ditko cover gorgeous. Sincweicz one is good too.

I can’t believe that my least favorite cover on the list is a Toth. This is my favorite iconic cover gallery to date.

Oh, and happy birthday to your fiancee! It happens to be the birthday of many brilliant, outstanding, influential people. Some of whom post on this very blog…

Hey T.

Its actually ‘Sienkiewicz’ according to Brian. i can never spell it, so i just copied it.
Also, i never could pronounce it until i heard it on an old video [back when there was such a thing] and couldn’t understand what the narrator was saying. i had to listen to it several times for the pronounciation.
It was “Sin-Kev-Vitch” not “Sink-E-Witz” as i had thought! My last name is Jackowitz [pronounced "Jack-O-Witz"] so that had clouded my judgement.
By the way, i agree with you 100% about both those covers. Good column Brian!
DFTBA

I’ve written his name long enough that I can now write it without even checking. :)

And yeah, it’s Sin-Kev-Vitch, just like Chuck Wojtkiewicz is Voit-Kev-Vitch.

Dude! i never even attempted Chuch W’s last name. i just called him ‘Wojo’ just like that dude on Barney Miller. Thanks Brian!
DFTBA

Sienkiewicz did plenty of great covers for the O’Neil run. It was one of the most overlooked comic greats of that time-frame. I really liked that book a lot back in the day, and yeah…I got turned on to him because of Watchmen being around the same time period. It was a really solid noir comic, when DC wasn’t putting out that many books dealing with that type of character.

Polish names aren’t too bad. Just remember: J = Y, W = V and CZ = TCH. So Wojtkiewicz is really Voytkievitch, which is pretty close. And then you get that L-with-a-line that’s pronounced like W, and the late Pope, Karol Wojtyla, becomes Voyteewa, which is also right.

Now if you really want to be confused, look at Gaelic. The rumour is that the Scots and the Hawaiians were too poor to afford their own language, so they pooled all their money, bought a cheap one and split it up: the Scots got the consonants and the Hawaiians got the vowels. Then the Scots asked around and got a cheap deal on a bulk load of “H”s, so they threw them in too.

I love the Question, and it boggles my mind that he (or she) has been portrayed by artists like Ditko, Toth, and Sienkiewicz and STILL is a B-lister. Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan KILLED that series in the eighties. Btw, you’re lucky to have a fiancee who knows who the Question is!

I really like the 52 cover with the Question in the morgue with a the question mark toe tag. That one is literally iconic, with the icon of the question mark representing the character.

It’s funny that out of five covers, there are essentially four different interpretations of the character. Ditko’s original, O’Neil’s zen-master, Rucka’s replacement, and Dini’s paranoiac.

And I love them all. When I found out there was going to be a Question action figure this fall, I wet myself a little.

Have we had any groups yet? I’d love to see a Top 5 of a team that isn’t “let’s all run at the camera,” or “let’s all stare up ata the camera,” although the first occurance of that last one is pretty iconic.

You know, that would be a fun column, too. Is there a column out there that takes an iconic image and then shows all the covers that references it?

Okay, I’m going to lie down now.

Okay I love the Question.
I just don’t like and think Montoya should be a mask. Crispin and Montoya should have opened up their own Private Investigation Agency and dealt with the capes and insanity of super-villians and heroes!
Vic Sage is the Question.
I love Rucka’s work but feel the way I do. It’s not sexist. I feel DC has been killing and abusing the Charlton characters too much of late.
First Peacemaker, then Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, and now Vic Sage the Question.
And lets not forget Captain Atom being a bad guy/good guy????
Leave the Charlton Heroes alone and develop the personas of cool characters like Montoya and Crispin.

How can the Alex Toth Question be the “first” of the four Questions when the Ditko version is the first?

How can Denny O’Neil’s Question be the “fourth” of four Questions when Montoya is the last?

Ha! I thought of sending you a list of what I thought were the five best (I’m not sure any of them besides Mysterious Suspense approach true “iconic” status), but thought you might not appreciate my intrusion.

This skews fairly close to what I’d planned on sending, in roughly the order I was going to send them. So good job! In place of the JLU cover — and while I’d acknowledge that JLU plays an important role in the pop culture status of the Q?, I attribute that mostly to the show and not the comics — I’d have put one of the beautiful covers by Tommy Lee Edwards for the mini-series written by Rick Veitch. Probably this one:

http://www.vicsage.com/dc/qmini2.jpg

…Or this one:

http://www.vicsage.com/dc/qmini3.jpg

(And you should share the link to our site with your fiancée!)

Good point, it had not really occurred to me that there have been four distinct versions of the Question.

5. The Dini version is probably the most fun. He obviously owes a lot to Rorschach, but the cartoons did a nice job of changing the tone. I love the idea of the Question being a detective, but not in the same sense as Batman or Ralph Dibny. The dynamic with Green Arrow was under-explored, I think.
4. I am on record of not being a huge fan of the Renee Montoya Question, but this is a nice image by J.G. Jones. It really captures the mystery of the character.
3. I am with Mike Loughlin in being surprised that the Toth entry is the weakest. Still, it does a nice job emphasizing a key aspect of the Question to me. His costume consists of perfectly ordinary street clothes and no face. The only thing that is remarkable is the absence of a face.
2. Sienkiewicz is a master. I love how he evokes a noir atmosphere. I read and loved every issue of the Zen Master Question.
1. Again, pretty much the definition of an iconic cover.

I hope that both you and your fiance enjoy her birthday.

It’s great to see that the Question has so many fans…
I had a lot of fun drawing it during the run that Denny and I had
and it’s cool to see that the character still has devoted readers
one point of clarification
aside from the brilliant first cover painting which he did alone
I penciled and Bill(my pal!) inked the covers for the first two years of our run
and I inked the remainder of the covers with a few exceptions…
I think Denny was the zen master
with help from the editor at the time, Mike Gold

dc

I’m much more of a DC guy than a Marvel guy, but I feel one of the biggest mistakes DC made was killing off the original Question. The character was at the height of his popularity from JLU, and DC did nothing with it. The character has been a wonderful vehicle for the kind of noir storytelling even Batman can’t do today. He (and Adam Strange) have been woefully misused. BTW… Do you think Danny Boy could make the cool comic book moments?

I think you need at least one Denys Cowan one on that list, in place of one of the first two. A lot of them are good, but my initial shortlist would be #4, #14, #21 and Annual #1.

Is #4 him on top of the bus? That was a great cover. Or the one where he kisses Myra is amazing too. I never really liked O’Neil’s take on the Question, but in terms of the pretty pictures, that whole run was a stunner.

Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan KILLED that series in the eighties.

It may not be that faithful to the original, but that run is a classic in its own right

Engaged, huh? I guess your girlfriend must have liked it when you popped the Question!

Okay, sorry.

Denny O’Neil;s Question was a great series, in a post crisis period which saw some great stuff coming out, ie Mike Grell’s Green Arrow, Gaiman’s Sandman to name just two which come to mind. It was long overdue when DC started to re release them as trades. Its a series I remember with great fondness and as other posters have mentioned It has several great comic book moments in the first 3 issues alone, and it was a quality the series maintained over its run, for the most part. I don’t know what the hell DC were thinking when they killed off Vic Sage, and I can’t help but wonder it he’ll make an appearance in Blackest Night. Part of me dreads the idea, part of me thinks if it brings him back then bring it on.

Don’t know much about the question, so i can’t say what I consider to be iconic or not, but all of these are really good looking covers. One of the best looking groups so far.

I always liked the question but the JLU one was just incredible. Man I need to get that series.

Citizen Scribbler

September 17, 2009 at 5:17 am

For my taste, I would’ve dropped the Montoya Question cover and gone with one of his three cover appearances from the 80s Blue Beetle series instead. Particularly that first one (Issue #5, I think), where it looks like he’s pouncing down on BB from above. Another possibility would’ve been his cover from The L.A.W.. The books themselves were awful, but the covers were pretty good.

-Citizen Scribbler

cool for the question is one of my faves and nice to see dtiko’s cover number one though would if it had quilified used the one where the question crosses paths with roarschache of watchman

I saw Bill Sienkiewicz at Fan Expo this year at a sketch duel.

He is the fastest artist I’ve ever seen. He cranked out 3 fully inked 11×14 pinups in an hour, and he took long breaks from drawing to talk to the crowd. It was amazing.

He was a nice guy too. Really sincere and appreciative.

Wait, there’s a cover where The Question meets Rorschach?

I would pay five (5) American dollars to see Cartoon Network build a series focusing on the oddly-compelling relationship between The Question and The Huntress as seen on JLU.
In fact, as much as I enjoy Batman: The Brave and the Bold, before it came along what I really hoped for was a BatB series featuring The Question and The Huntress teaming up with other pairs of heroes. It would have been too limiting to focus on pairs of heroes who were also couples, though throwing that into the mix every now and again would be awesome.
Oh, and it seems to me that I saw something years ago indicating that it was pronounced Shine-ka-vics, but I guess I’m not remembering correctly.

Nice work remembering that Charlton Bullseye cover, Brian.

That’s an amazing issue with a new Toth drawn Question story inside.

This is the best looking set of covers yet.

It says something about the level of quality when an Alex Toth cover could be considered the worst one of the bunch.

Citizen Scribbler

September 17, 2009 at 7:49 am

This is one I was looking for:

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=fullsize&issue=11801061740%205

Hope the link works.

-Citizen Scribbler

Good choices.

Don’t worry…I’m sure Vic Sage will be back eventually.

Killing off the Charlton heroes is okay. Unlike DC’s heroes, they aren’t real.

@ Citizen Scribbler:

$1.25 for near mint? Considering a new comic with the “legacy” version of those characters would cost about $4.00, that strikes me as a real value.

It may not be that faithful to the original, but that run is a classic in its own right

When he says O’Neil and Cowan KILLED it, I think it’s meant as a compliment, “killed” being complimentary slang. I could be wrong, but that’s how I read it.

I’ll never understand DC logic. They go into 52 with two great characters and come out with one. Who in their right mind thinks that makes any sense?

I guess the same people who say, “Batman just appeared in one of the top-grossing, most talked-about movies of the year! Let’s kill him.”

I’ll never understand DC logic. They go into 52 with two great characters and come out with one. Who in their right mind thinks that makes any sense?

Really? I thought they went in with one great character and an annoying 3-for-1 Mary Sue Poochie (Minority! Female! Lesbian! All in One!) and came out with just the Mary Sue Poochie at the expense of the great character.

Citizen Scribbler

September 17, 2009 at 11:21 am

@Dean

I know! What with the prices of contemporary comics, you can get more for your money picking up an armload of back issues. An original run of the Giffen League is actually less expensive than buying the collected book, I’d wager.

That site itself tends to offer pretty good prices and sales. I would recommend their service since it is the one I use for my online comic shopping (when I can afford it).

-Citizen Scribbler

By killed, I mean that they did an amazing job — I prefer their version to all others. Sorry about the confusion.

By killed, I mean that they did an amazing job — I prefer their version to all others. Sorry about the confusion.

Damn – I’m just not hip wit da kidz no more!

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