June 20, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #298: The Question (The Other One)

An animated supporting character becomes a superhero in print.

So, I had this plan that I thought was clever:  write up the Question, but since there was two of them and DC didn’t seem to have either in a solo book, I could do the Vic Sage Question one week and the Renee Montoya Question the following week.  That’s planning ahead!  I had the Sage article written, was working on the Renee article, and then I saw something I was not expecting.

I already did Vic Sage’s Question.

OK, well, DC did something with a Question-like character as part of the New 52’s “Trinity of Sin” alongside Pandora and the Phantom Stranger.  I am sure the Phantom Stranger will make a great substitute for Vic Sage and…I did that one already too.

So, I figured I could still take care of Montoya and tossed off that Flamebird one from last week.  Anyway, here’s the (heavily revised) Montoya article.

Renee Montoya started off not in a comic book but on an animated series.  Batman the Animated Series to be precise.  She was a uniformed Gotham City cop who was apparently partnered with plainclothes detective Harvey Bullock.  Bullock, famously, distrusts Batman, so Montoya thought he was fine.  Now, why a uniformed cop was partnered with a plainclothes cop I don’t know, but Montoya was a nice familiar face even if her biggest accomplishment was arresting the title pair in the episode “Harley and Ivy” after Poison Ivy, high on her own half-assed feminism, proudly proclaimed that no man would take them prisoner.

Cue the woman cop.

When the New Batman Adventures came along, Renee was also a plainclothes cop, but still partnered with Bullock possibly because someone hates her.

Now, it isn’t unheard of for a character to leap to the comics from another medium.  It happened with Jimmy Olsen (first part of the Superman radio show), it happened with Alfred Pennyworth (first appearing in a Batman movie serial), and it happened with Harley Quinn (same source as Montoya).  As such, Renee was soon in the comic book version of the Gotham City Police Department, and during the No Man’s Land storyline, writer Greg Rucka did some good work with her, setting her up as someone with some kind of relationship with Two-Face, though not a romantic one.  When the new Gotham City rolled out after that storyline, a new series about the GCPD came along with Renee as a featured character, namely Gotham Central.  

That series basically had Batman as an occasional guest star and showed how the G.C.P.D. operated in a world of both corrupt city officials and supervillains.  As far as Montoya went, she had two prominent moments.  The first was when Two-Face, stung over her not going for him or something, outted her as gay.  The second was when her new partner, Crispus Allen, was killed on the job by a corrupt CSI guy.  Allen would later come back as the Spectre, but the two incidents didn’t do much for Montoya.  She was estranged with from her family over her sexual orientation and her partner died while she was distracted by a gang war.

It was a bad time all around.

That led to Montoya quitting the force, becoming an alcoholic, and her meeting with Vic Sage in the 52 mini-series that ended with Vic dying of natural causes and Renee becoming the new Question.  Heck, during the Final Crisis, she even teamed up with Crispus Allen’s Spectre in a special mini-series.  Renee never got her own solo series as the Question as near as I can make out, but she was a good choice to be a new faceless investigator and vigilante though it is a little odd that the character who started off as a Batman supporting character wouldn’t become a hero the way most costumed vigilantes in Gotham do by becoming part of the extended Bat-family.  She was off on her own doing something else entirely.

Then again, most of this came from writer Greg Rucka, and he always has done good by his female characters.  And anyone who remembers Sasha Bordeaux knows in Rucka’s world that starting off as one of Batman’s friends doesn’t mean you stay in Gotham.

But then the New 52 came along, and the whole “Trinity of Sin” thing with the Question happened, so Renee’s time may have been over…until her version of the Question reappeared in, of all places, a Lois Lane mini-series.  Then again, that was Rucka’s writing again.

Man, you’d think a character with this much story would be around more.  Heck, she’s been in live action work twice.  She was a reoccuring character on TV’s Gotham

Seen here with the Gotham version of Crispus Allen.

…and she was played by Rosie Perez in the Birds of Prey movie.

So, while Renee Montoya may not appear often, she appears often enough, and she may or may not have a face the next time you see her.