Or – “The Question And Answers…”


The character of Renee Montoya was one of the centerpieces of 52, traveling a complicated arc from drunkard to acolyte to hero in her own right over the course of the year, coming to grips with mortality, her own weaknesses, even the people who had been hurt by her actions in the past. Her transformation into The Question was probably the most satisfying of all the main characters’ stories, and her relationship with Batwoman (another interesting character) made for the possibility of ongoing drama with the newest media darling superhero. So, is it me, or did this book just slide right under the radar and disappear from view in the setup for Final Crisis?

Crime1.jpgPreviously, on Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood: Throughout her missing year, former Detective Montoya kept bumping up against The Religion of Crime, an underground cult that worships Cain (the first murderer, according to biblical tradition) as their forefather. In an attempt to find out what the cult was REALLY up to, Renee went undercover, and found that while she was searching for THEM, they were searching for HER. The titular leader of the Church of Crime, a madman called Flay, has set repeated traps for the new Question, leading her deeper and deeper into his web, seemingly trying to corrupt her with their teachings. After learning the lessons of Murder, Deceit, Greed, and Lust, (and alienating most of her friends and allies) Renee has trailed Flay and his Acolytes, and unwittingly fit right into their prophecies, coming to them as the Faceless one, the one without true faith. Now, her journey is about to end…

The issue opens with Renee Montoya arriving on “The Shores of the Abandoned,” which seems like a graveyard for ships. (My fanboy sense tells me I should know what’s going on here, but I can’t for the life of me bring the memory to the forefront.) She is quickly surrounded by killers, murderers, and litterers, and none of her attempts to communicate get her more than angry stares and confrontational body language. Suddenly, she remembers her verses of the Crime Bible, and says the magic words. “And the caitiff gazed upon her, and saw then that she was without faith, and empty… and, too, saw his reflection on her face.” She puts on her Question face, and suddenly, all bow before her, intoning “Faceless…”

Unsure of how to proceed, Renee is taken to Flay, who is hiding in the hold of one of the ships, sharpening a knife on a blood-covered stone. The Question angrily tells him that she’s come for answers, and Flay smiles that she has learned her lessons well. She lied in pursuit of the truth, fell prey to her lust, was overcome by greed, and killed a man… Her protests fall on deaf ears, as Flay smiles. “You cannot UNKNOW what you know, Faceless. They are waiting for us.” Flay leads her up to the deck, and the whole scene is creepy enough to make you worry for The Question’s safety. It’s a very effective sequence, as they walk into a circle of kneeling acolytes, and Flay suddenly attacks her.

The Question dodges every blow, refusing to fight, until Flay reveals his entire hand: Elicia, the object of Renee’s affection in a recent issue, blindfolded and ready to be sacrificed. Galvanized into action, she fights, revealing that her skills have improved during her quest, and that even Flay’s combat prowess isn’t enought to defeat her now… or so it seems. He quickly, knocks her to a lower deck, and attacks for the kill, snarling “You are NOT the one.” Renee’s counterstrike leaves him impaled on a piece of wreckage, and she frees Elicia… “I wouldn’t kill the man who murdered my partner,” says The Question, “What makes YOU so special?” Cain frees himself, and attacks again, but she dodges, causing him to throw himself off the ship to his inevitable death. All the crazy folk bow to her, intoning, “Master… command us in Cain’s name!”

And that’s it. Not even a “The End” or “To Be Continued” just ‘Boom! It’s over!’ The last six or eight pages of the book are a preview of the upcoming DC/Wildstorm crossover, making it seem like there could be more story, so it’s doubly surprising what happens here. I don’t know what I expected, but… this was just weird. Given the influx of darkness in the DCU recently, I’m afraid that the next time we see Renee, we might just find her as crazy as a football bat, leading an army of assassins. Think I’m overreacting? Ask Cassandra Cain. For all that, though, this was an interesting miniseries, seemingly disconnected from the greater DC continuity, well-drawn and intriguingly written. If not for that head-scratcher of an ending (very similar to the ‘Agents of Atlas’ miniseries from Marvel last year) I might have gone as high as four stars… As it is, I’m puzzled enough to call Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood a solid 3 out of 5 stars. Just don’t expect me to explain it all…



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


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