The iFanboy Letter Column – 08/28/2009

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s searching for the ultimate party where on the way, you and your friends get stuck in a 1980s movie-esque adventure. For others, Friday means it’s time to dive into the bottom of a whiskey glass to forget about Monday-Thursday.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming —


I want to ask what are the key stories I should read about Green Arrow and The Question (Charles Szasz not Rene Montoya). I really love Green Arrow and have read the classic Neil Adams and Dennis O’Neil run, “Quiver” by Kevin Smith, and have other Justice League comics when he was on the team but I was looking for something that focuses on him more or was central the character. I was also wondering if any of you guys read the ongoing Green Arrow & Black Canary and if you could tell me whether its good? I just read 52 again for the 3rd time since I got it a couple of years ago and remembered how much I really liked the old Question so I was wondering wether there is any essential storylines i should read for him to that you know of.

Any information you guys have on the subject would be much appreciated.

Andrew from Glasgow, Scotland, UK

I’ll start with The Question because I am not as well versed in his stories so it should be quick. If I put my mind to it, I’ve probably read a bunch of stories involving Vic Sage (aka Charles Victor Szasz), The Question. But none really stand out in my mind, other than 52 and that was the story that ended Vic’s story and passed the mantle on to Rene. The only Question story that I can recall having read and enjoyed was a story that featured The Question prominently, but didn’t even have his name in the title, for what I assume was obvious sales reasons. In 2000 there was Batman/Huntress: A Cry For Blood was a six issue mini-series from writer Greg Rucka and artist Rick Burchett. I don’t really remember the plot, but I do remember enjoying it very much. That was the last golden age in Gotham when Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker ran the show and just about everything being published was terrific. Beyond that mini-series, the only book I can think of is the classic series The Question that came out in the late 1980s from writer Denny O’Neill and artist Denys Cowan. This is a series that I haven’t read, but it’s on my short list to get to. There is nothing but praise for this series, and we’re all in luck because it’s been re-released in trade, and there are four volumes out so far.

Now, I can tell you more about Green Arrow. He’s one of my favorite characters and I’ve read a ton of his books. There are two runs on Green Arrow that were, in my mind, pretty epic. The first came out in 1988 — man, the late 80s was a GREAT time for comics! — and was from writer/artist Mike Grell. Green Arrow was a mature readers book, and it removed Oliver Queen from the machinations of the regular DCU and told dark and adult-themed stories that would, these days, fall under the Vertigo banner. It was, for all intents and purposes, a Green Arrow Vertigo book. I wish this run was reprinted. It’s not, but it’s on the top of my list. The run on Green Arrow that I would rank behind Grell’s classic was the 50 issues that Judd Winick wrote Green Arrow from 2003-2007. During that period of time, Green Arrow ranked among the best and most consistent DC books. And if you listened to the Pick of the Week Podcast during the last half of that run then you’ll know that it was one of Ron and I’s favorite books. Winick zeroed in on Oliver Queen and made the character his own over that period of time. His voice was so strong that when he left Green Arrow & Black Canary and a new writer came on, I dropped the book for the first time since 2001 (if you consider Green Arrow & Black Canary the natural continuation of Green Arrow, as I do).

As for Green Arrow & Black Canary, Judd Winick wrote 14 issues and the first half were some of the best comics coming out at the time. Among those first seven issues it was Pick of the Week not once but twice. The artwork in the first half, when Cliff Chiang is drawing it, is stunning. The second half of the run really fell apart and then I only made it two or three issues into the new writer before I had to let it go.

There’s also Green Arrow: Year One, the mini-series that updated Green Arrow’s origin. It was written by the team that brought us The Losers — writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock. Man, that’s beautiful looking book.

And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the brief run on Green Arrow that Brad Meltzer had between Kevin Smith and Judd Winick. It was only six issues, but when you add that to the mix, you had 75 great issues of Green Arrow plus seven or eight of Green Arrow & Black Canary.

Conor Kilpatrick



  1. I was lucky enough to snag Green Arrow The Long Bow Hunters at a used book store for three bucks, and it is AMAZING. From there I’ve tried hunting down the ongoing from Grell. And man it ain’t easy.

    I got really into the question from his DCAU Justice League Unlimited Episodes, so good (and now I constantly hear Jeffrey Combs, even when it’s Montoya! (Kidding) 

  2. @Jurassicalien – I was also introduced to the Question in JLU.  He was an excellent character and played an important role.  I liked how he as used in 52.  

    There is actually a paperback novel about Vic (with a smidge of Batman, Lady Shiva, and Richard Dragon) called DC Universe: Helltown that was written by Dennis O’Neill. You can get it on (hint: go through the iFanboy store to buy it so they can get a little kickback and to support the site).  It isn’t the best novel I’ve ever read, but it is essentially a very decent telling of Vic’s origin in Hub City.  You can probably Interlibrary Loan it if you don’t want to buy it.  

  3. only one letter this week? weird. I loved the winnick GA series and the first 3 issues or so of GA/Black Canary are truly stupendous, but damn if it didn’t fall apart real fast. Ive read the first collection of the O’Neil Question book and it was pretty solid, I didn’t think it was anything to write home about, good, not great. but if you like the character, you should probably check it out

  4. Yeah – sorry about that guys – Josh is on vacation and unfortunately I had some emergencies this AM that kept me from getting my letter in….

  5. @Ron-Josh on vacation??!?!?!  So who’s doing the show?  I’m availabe this weekend and my voice is almost as sexy as Conor’s, FYI.  😉

  6. Josh on vacation!?

    Why? When!? WHICH!?

  7. Thanks for having my question featured thats really amazing….thanks for the info conor and i’ll be sure to give them a try. @Jurassicalien and stuclach The Question in JLU was an awesome character.

  8. Green Arrow: Long Bow Hunters. Much better than anything in the last decade.

  9. long bow hunters is quality as is year one.

  10. You had all week to finish that letter Ron.  All…week!

  11. Josh is on vacation? That explains why it was soo eerriely quiet on twitter today.

  12. The Denny O’Neil trades are quality.  I have the first two and they are both excellent, with the frist trade really being a stand out for me.  It’s good stuff.  

    I haven’t gotten the other two yet because of well…global financial collapse. 

  13. Ah, you guys are warming my heart.

    The 80’s Question and Green Arrow stand out as very seminal comics for me. O’Neil and Cowan on The Question hit me right as I was getting bored with comics. They were comics about crime and zen and identity and they were gritty and thoughtful (and occassionally a little preachy, but in a good way.)

    And then Grell’s take on Ollie was just… groundbreaking at the time. First, they let Oliver get older. He was a forty-something hero. He ditched the trick arrows and it was just about a guy trying to do the right thing (and often screwing up his personal life). And there was a point, late in the run, where Grell actually ditched the costume all together and had Ollie traveling the world, just a guy with a bow and some green arrows. The art in the early run of the ongoing was OK. It’s solidly put together, but a little bland. Actually, there was a point when Dan Jurgens did some art — that was pretty good. That ongoing could REALLY use an Omnibus treatment. Or a series of trades like The Question.


  14. Not asked about in the letter, but if you guys dig the Longbow Hunters and the Question, you might also want to hunt down Tim Truman’s Hawkworld miniseries from roughly the same time period. Like those other two books, Truman brought a sort of gritty realism to the whole Thanagarian world.

  15. "The Question" mini-seires by Rick Veitch from a couple years ago is pretty good as well. 

    There was a three year period where Denny O’Neill was writing the Green Arrow annual, as well as annuals for Detective and The Question.

    Detective Comics Annual #1, Green Arrow Annual #1 and The Question Annual #1 make up a three part Lady Shiva story called "Fables." Its good Denny O’Neill fun. Green Arrow Annual #2 and Question Annual #2 are also thematically linked, and closer to a more proper GA/Question crossover. And finally Green Arrow Annual #3 is a Question/GA story.  

  16. @Prax – you’ve cemented yourself in my Hall of Fame with that reference.

    I LOVE that cross-over story. It has one of the great lines that I still quote to this day:

    "A one-man religion?"

    "There is no other kind."


    And, yeah, I thought he Veitch Question book was decent (with fabulous art), but I was so taken with O’Neil’s version that it just wasn’t "my" Question. Rucka has come the closest to approximating O’Neil’s version of the character.

  17. Rucka’s a huge fan of the O’Neil run.  There was a video podcast a few months back — I think maybe Fresh Ink? — where writers were asked to talk about their 3 favorite comics, and that was the first one he mentioned.  Also, I think in the notes to ’52,’ I think he says he reread every isssue of it while working on 52. 

  18. @daccampo: I read the first issue — or the first couple of issues — of the Veitch Question book but it didn’t grab me for whatever reason.

  19. I’ve picked up the long bow hunter and havent picked it up, I got it with Quiver at my LCS nd wasn’t impressed with Quiver so I never went further. I guess it’s time to give it a try

    seems like we are missing a few other Q& As. Did someone get a day off

  20. I thought the first Question trade mentioned above was really great.  The second was ok… He rocked a mullet for a few issues which was kinda hard to see… I’m about to read the third, and flipping through it there is a Green Arrow appearance, so that looks cool.  

  21. My first GA story was a reprint of The Night Hunters in a UK Batman reprint. By Alan Moore and Klaus Janson – not the worst start I’ve had with a character. 🙂

  22. Josh is on vacation Where does a person who hates fun go on vacation?

  23. @JohnVFerrigno – Maine?

  24. @conor – yeah, I thought Veitch’s Question had great art (John Paul Leon, maybe? Or Tommy Lee Edwards? Always get those two confused), but Veitch tried to do some weird Shamanistic stuff and also set the Question in Metropolis. It just didn’t quite click.

    I should clarify, just in case, that the quote I referred to above was from the Question/GA/Batman annual X-over that O’Neil wrote. Great stuff. 

    @ohcaroline – yeah, I remember Rucka gushing about the series on various podcasts, and the moment you read his Question/Huntress mini from a few years back, it becomes completely obvious that he’s totally writing the O’Neil Question story that just happens to have the Huntress in there. 😉  In my mind, Rucka is the proper successor to O’Neil, and he’s made Montoya the proper successor to Vic.

  25. I believe Rucka has promised a Huntress appearance within the Question co-feature in DETECTIVE, in which they bond over how Vic used to stalk, I mean, mentor both of them.  (I also know Vic-Question and Huntress were a couple in the JLU cartoon but I’m not sure if that was before or after Rucka’s series.)

  26. O’neil’s Question run is awesome! One of my faves! Damn I’d love to have Sage back!

  27. @JumpingJupiter   No no no no!  I’m usually all in favor of resurrections but IMO Vic’s ending, and passing of the legacy, is one that needs to be honored.

  28. I’m totally with ohcaroline on this. As much as I loved the O’Neil Vic Sage Question, I think his story was told. I think Rucka & Co. writing his death was a great send-off, and that Montoya is a great successor. A whole Question: Rebirth totally wouldn’t work for that character, anyway. 😉

    I would like to see Renee use the Question to tackle the subject of "identity" in the way that O’Neil did with Vic, but only as pertains to her — not shoehorning something onto her. 

  29. By the time I got back into comics, the original Question died. So I’m kinda not on board for him coming back anytime soon. But when I see ‘Justice League Unlimited’ and the episodes he was in, it makes me want to find old trades with him in it. Plus the stuff with him in 52 was pretty cool as well.

    Thankfully someone on youtube posted a vid with ‘Best of The Question’.

  30. @davidtobin Oh, that Moore/Janson story was great (was it ‘The Night Olympics’?). I think it’s in the DCU Stories of Alan Moore book, if anyone missed it.