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REVIEW: Helltown by Dennis O’Neil



BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Vic Sage returns to the town of his youth to find some answers regarding his past. In the process of trying to find these answers, he asks the wrong questions and is nearly killed. With some assistance from Batman, he returns as The Question to really find out what is going on.


PROS: The transformation of Vic Sage into The Question, Lady Shiva as a character is great

CONS: The fact that The Question is very similar to Batman, and cookie cutter villians.

BOTTOM LINE: A good book that brings a new hero into existence.

This story is mainly about the creation of the superhero known as The Question. He is part of a new generation of DC Comic heroes, and that is not always a bad thing. Mr. O’Neil has had a long career being involved with creating superheroes and that work shows in this book. He really understood what it takes to create a “mystery man” or superhero. It is this that worked in this book, and what I liked the most from the movie Batman Begins. and that was the creation of a “mystery man” or superhero. This metamorphosis of a somewhat normal person into a hero is so intriguing in that the real person is the hero himself and the alter-ego is thing that is created to protect the hero. Another great thing about this book is that The Question/Vic Sage is pretty much a mortal who works very hard to be a hero versus folks like Superman who are really “meta-humans”. But since The Question is a mortal there are many similarities between him and Batman to the point that in some stories these two can be interchangeable (although that is not the case in this book.) The relationship between the men is well done with Batman pretty much being the very reluctant mentor.

The other characters in the book are somewhat cookie cutter types. The main villains consist of a mastermind with a weaselly front man who just wants the girl. This feels pretty much formula based, but the way they are revealed is well done. I definitely did not expect it done that way and was pleasantly surprised. On the other hand, the character of Lady Shiva is awesome. She is another DC Comics hero, but has this cynical view on the world. For example, she comes to the town where Vic is at simply since she is looking for a fight worth her time. I really enjoyed the way she is represented.

Overall, the book is a very good entry in this DC Universe series and Mr. O’Neil definitely has the background to bring this character into being. The villains while not perfect work in this book, are appropriate. It is a worthwhile read for fans of superhero fiction.

3 Comments on REVIEW: Helltown by Dennis O’Neil

  1. Just for the record: The Question isn’t a new hero. He was created by artist Steve Ditko back in the late 1960’s for Charleston Comics

    But this book was written by the guy that rewrote his origin when DC bought out Charleston in the 80’s.

    So, a new hero? No. A new vision of an old hero? Yeah.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, but his current incarnation is not a bad one (at least in this book). Mr. O’Neil definitely knows comics and has been involved quite heavily with Batman (at least according to his bio.)

  3. No arguement there. I find the current incarnations (especially the animated one from JLU) of the Question to be a lot more interesting than Ditko’s actually. Ditko was an Objectivist and the Question was sort of a mouthpiece for the philosophy.

    I just believe in giving credit where it’s due. 🙂

    A bit of trivia for those familiar with Alan Moore’s comic, The Watchmen. The Question (along with a bunch of other Charleston comic characters then recently bought by DC) were slated to populate it. But then DC read the scripts and said, “No way! We just bought these characters!” And so Rorshach was born.

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