Comics · Queer

A to Z: The Question (Renee Montoya)

The_2nd_QuestionRenee Montoya’s meta-history is just as interesting as her in-character backstory. She was an original character created for the Batman: The Animated Series show in 1992 — an honest cop and a woman of color. Along with other fan-favorite TAS characters like Harley Quinn, she made the jump to DC Comics canon and has since appeared all over the place. In live-action media, she was a minor cop under the Joker’s control in The Dark Knight. She occasionally appears on Gotham, but mostly as part of the (awful) “bisexual confusion” arc with Jim Gordon’s fiance Barbara.

After around 2000, Montoya was a regular fixture in Gotham Central (the comic about Gotham’s police force) and various other Batman-related titles. There’s an arc in which Two-Face outs her as lesbian to throw her personal life off balance. Then in 2004 there was an (unrelated) arc in which she had a little revenge tailspin against corrupt cop Jim Corrigan and ended up quitting the police force. When her story picks up in 52, she’s an alcoholic who spends most of her time obsessing about the life she lost.

Cue The Question — the previous Question, Vic Sage. He was a journalist with a well-known face who wore a “faceless” mask to conceal his identity while engaging in heroics. (Rorschach of Watchmen is actually an iteration of this guy, and Sage is one of the slightly-darker DC heroes, but not usually to that level). In 52, Sage is dying of lung cancer and has chosen Renee Montoya to be his successor. By the end of the comic she’s agreed, after the two investigate a possible gang takeover in Gotham involving the attempted human sacrifice of Kate Kane, the previously-discussed Batwoman, whom Renee is dating. Their romantic relationship was shortlived, but realistically so, and compelling. The Question went on to appear in a number of other comics, and is scheduled to appear in the New 52 soon.

So that’s the Question. She’s been a cop and that’s how she approaches heroism. She’s popular with the fans and a mainstay of Gotham City-related media, and I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of the stories we could tell!

Recommended Reading:

She’s got a lot of appearances, and I’ll point you toward Wikipedia to find something that looks good to you. Personally, I most enjoyed her arc in 52 with Batwoman!

  • 52 Vol. 1-4 by Geoff Johns et al. (pub. 2007, ISBN 978-1401213534; 978-1401213640; 978-1401214432; 978-1401214869)
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9 thoughts on “A to Z: The Question (Renee Montoya)

  1. I actually preferred Renee Montoya as a highly competent but otherwise normal police officer. Not every cool character needs to be a costumed hero. I really didn’t see the need to kill Vic Sage and have Renee become the new Question. Or, if DC Comics really wanted her to adopt a masked alter ego, they could have created a brand-new one for her.

    Just my opinion, of course. Feel free to disagree. Maybe I just miss the awesome chemistry she had with everyone’s favorite obnoxious sloppy cop, Harvey Bullock, when they were partners in the GCPD.

    I know that some readers complained when Greg Rucka revealed Montoya to be a lesbian. It never bothered me because I don’t think her personal life had really been explored all that much previously. So it wasn’t some sort of gigantic retcon.

    I actually liked how Bullock’s reaction to it was handled. He was angry that after all their years of working together Montoya never felt comfortable confiding in him. Montoya then told him that she was worried that Bullock was such a narrow-minded, ignorant creep that if he ever learned that he was working with a lesbian he’d arrange for her to “accidentally” get shot when they were on patrol. You can see that Bullock is genuinely upset that Montoya believed that.

    Yet at the same time Montoya’s fear does make sense. She’s already a woman working in a police force that is riddled with corruption and of which a good percentage of its members are probably the cop equivalent of an “old boys network” that is up to its armpits in sexism. Montoya must have been terrified that if her sexual orientation became known she’d be blackballed, or even assaulted / murdered by her fellow officers.

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    1. Understandable on both counts. I didn’t know her before she was the Question, but I often dislike structural changes of that nature, especially if they’re not really necessary.

      I hadn’t thought about the cops’ possible reactions that much, but you’re totally right. That would’ve been terrifying, and it makes a lot of sense for her to stay closeted. I know her family pretty much disowned her for it, too.

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  2. She looks like a really interesting character to dive into. I admit that pic and “Montoya” got me excited for different reasons, though, haha.

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  3. I wonder if Gotham always planned on getting rid of Barbara Gordon, or they just made her leave because the fans hated her with a passion (I know I did). And yeah, that whole sexuality storyline was really badly done. Montoya has a lot more in her character than “evil lesbian”… 😀

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. Unfortunately, I believe Barbara’s coming back tonight. She’s in the episode picture on IMDB. I’m still hoping she’ll be gone for good soon, though, and that Montoya will be back to do interesting stuff!

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        1. It’s still my fave. Not an episode goes by without me exclaiming “I LOVE THIS SHOW” and annoying my siblings. I haven’t seen the episode yet, so I don’t know where the Barbara thing went/is going, though.

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