We return to continue answering The Question by seeing how the apprentice became the master. Who is the second Question and what led her to follow in the footsteps of Vic Sage? Many may know her from her mainstream introduction on Batman: The Animated Series, the long-suffering partner to Harvey Bullock, Renee Montoya. She wouldn’t become The Question while working for Gotham PD, though, so let’s follow her journey from cop to masked figure.
Renee Montoya came from a Catholic family and was born and raised in Gotham, so it made sense for her to want to be a cop in that city. (Doesn’t everyone in that city want to fight or commit crime?) She’d end up going from beat cop to detective, and be partnered with Harvey Bullock, a man who is loud as he is large. The two would work together and often end up being Gordon’s most trusted cops. This would lead to them getting involved with both Gotham’s hero, Batman, and its enemies.
When the Cataclysm hit Gotham City, leaving it declared a No Man’s Land by the government, Montoya was one of the cops to stay behind to help try and maintain any semblance of order. During this time she’d come into contact with Two-Face, and work out a deal with him and the remaining police. This would garner the Harvey Dent personality of Two-Face to much respect and affection for Montoya, which would only lead to bad things for her.
Two-Face would kidnap her and try to show her she loved him like he did her. Two-Face would also capture Gordon, not for love, but to put him on trial for perceived crimes. Montoya was able to save Gordon by talking Two-Face into letting Dent be Gordon’s lawyer; the guy still has it and is able to get Gordon free. Montoya talked a split-personality into using one of them against the other; that’s some mythical story problem solving right there.
When Gotham is restored to being a city again, Montoya is reinstated as a detective while Bullock is promoted to Lieutenant. Montoya gets a new partner in Crispus Allen, and one of their cases is a big one: who shot Commissioner Gordon? Gordon had been shot three times and left for dead, which made Montoya reasonably enraged and she wanted to seek Batman’s help in interrogating their suspect. Allen refused, thinking Batman was an abuse of their power, and this would lead to some animosity with Montoya for awhile. When Batman was finally brought in, the suspect still got away free, leading Montoya to nearly kill the man herself. Bullock would step in to stop her from ruining her life, noting that Gordon wouldn’t want it to go down that way.
Later on in her life, she’d begin to have her world torn apart, piece by piece by an outside source. She would be outed as a lesbian to everyone in her life with photos of her with her girlfriend, which would lead her strict Catholic parents to disown her. She’d be found with heroin, and the person who’d been taking these photos of her would be found dead with her weapon matched as the murdering one. Allen tried but could not help her out as she faced first-degree murder charges. Then Two-Face showed up and things started to become, unfortunately, very clear.
Two-Face kidnapped Montoya, making it looked as if she escaped, and revealed to her that he’d been behind it all. He’d been destroying her life so she’d have no one, no one but him. If she only had Two-Face, he believed she’d fall in love with him. Of course this didn’t work, and Batman was able to stop Two-Face and show that Montoya was innocent. Sadly, the damage to her personal life and career had been done.
Gang warfare broke out in Gotham causing Montoya and Allen to have to go into a situation without backup. They came out with Montoya shot but saved by her Kevlar vest, a villain named the Black Spider dead, along with a bystander to the shoot out with Allen looking to be taking the blame. While Allen had shot down Black Spider, it was Spider’s bullet that killed the bystander, but the evidence went missing and it looked like Allen was going to be arrested for it. Montoya realized that the forensic technician, Jim Corrigan, had been involved in losing the evidence. She beat Corrigan into revealing who was responsible for it, which would have dire consequences.
Even though Allen was absolved of the crime, the Internal Affairs investigation on Corrigan had been marred. Allen revealed to Montoya that he’d been secretly trying to get Corrigan on his crimes, and since she was tied to both Allen and Corrigan, he had to keep it from her. When Corrigan learned of everything that was going on to get him, he led Allen into a trap, killing him. This wouldn’t be the end of Crispus Allen, but we’ll get to that another time. Montoya tried to kill Corrigan for what he’d done, but let the cops take him away instead; it was at this point that Montoya quit the police force.
Deep in depression and drinking heavily, Montoya was at a low point when the major superheros of the world went missing for a year. Gotham had no Batman, but it did have a Question. Montoya found herself getting question mark signals aimed at her window with the Question asking her if she was ready. When she finally joined him it was to fight Intergang and their involvement with the Religion of Crime.
The two would travel the world fighting many bizarre things of the Religion of Crime, eventually finding their way to Khandaq where Montoya prevented the assassination of Black Adam and Isis during their wedding. When she was to receive an award alongside the Question, she ended up leaving to drink and find a warm body to stay with, because she had to shoot a young girl to stop the assassination. With the aid of Adam and Isis, Montoya and the Question were able to stop an Intergang child slavery ring and reunite Isis with her brother Osiris.
Question would then take Montoya all the way to Nanda Parbat so that she could train with Richard Dragon for her anger control. Aristotle Rodor, the Question’s friend and mentor, was in Nanda Parbat as well, helping decipher the Crime Bible they’d taken from the Religion of Crime. While Montoya was confused as to why she was doing this training, Rodor revealed to her that the Question was dying and that he hoped she’d take over as the Question.
Upon deciphering the Crime Bible, Montoya was able to realize that the sacrifice they needed was Kate Kane, her former lover and current Batwoman. They raced back to Gotham to find Kane, the Question taking a turn for the worse and needing the help of both Montoya and Kane in taking care of him over the holidays. As his condition worsened, Montoya was determined to get him back to Nanda Parbat. As they reached their destination, Vic Sage, the Question, died. Mourning, Montoya stayed in Nanda Parbat to train with Dragon and began to meditate like Sage had.
Dragon saw that she was trying to avoid her grief and demanded she face it head on to find out who she was. Montoya went into a cave for four days to meditate and find herself. When she finally looked at her reflection in the ice covered walls of the cave she saw herself, with no face; she knew who she was and had to be. The Question was dead; long live The Question.
Montoya returned to Gotham to find Kate with the aid of Nightwing. Their search led them to a warehouse with a bomb, which was just one of many, as Intergang plans to firebomb all of Gotham. Finally donning the mask of the Question, Montoya goes in to save Kane, and they narrowly escape with Kane being stabbed but not sacrificed. While Kane heals, she notices a bat-signal in her window and Montoya asking if she is ready.
The Question and Batwoman would frequently team up to take on the Religion of Crime situations. Kane was noticing that Montoya was becoming obsessed with the Crime Bible and its teachings, and began worrying for Montoya. The two had also begun dating again, and so this concern and obsession was straining their relationship. When they found a rare edition of the Crime Bible, this was the final straw; Montoya’s desire to keep Kane safe was not something Kane needed, so she left and the book stayed.
Alone, Montoya dedicated her time to dealing with the Religion of Crime, especially the Dark Side Club, an organization hunting down metahuman children. In her travels she fights S.H.A.D.E. agent Frankenstein (don’t go on about him being the Creature, you are sided with his jerk of a dad when you act like this guy isn’t his son and deserves that last name just as much). I just thought it was important to note that The Question fought Frankenstein, and that’s pretty cool.
While trying to stop the Religion of Crime from obtaining the Spear of Destiny, her attempt was foiled by The Spectre, the wrath of God, who was now embodied by her former partner Crispus Allen. He was there to pass judgment on her, but took her to Gotham so she could say goodbye to Kane. As he was about to take her away, Radiant, God’s mercy, arrived to pardon her. As this happened, Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation took control of the Gotham PD and the three were attacked by the possessed cops.
The three would be surrounded by Vandal Savage and members of the Religion of Crime, who had gained possession of the Spear of Destiny. Montoya protected the Spectre from being stabbed by taking the hit herself and was able to take control of the spear. She used the spear to heal the Spectre from the emotional damage of having lost his son, purifying the weapon. Her sacrifice allowed Radiant to heal her of her stab wound.
With Darkseid still taking over the world, Montoya would learn that Checkmate was going to try and evacuate as many survivors as possible to a parallel Earth in another dimension. Realizing Darkseid would never stop, Montoya used a motherbox to travel to other dimensions collecting Supermen. She was able to bring an army of Supermen to the Superman of her Earth and helped stop Darkseid.
Montoya would team up with Batman Dick Grayson while Bruce Wayne was stuck traveling in time, to stop a child abduction cult. They learned the cult would kill these children to bring about some sort of godlike entity. Montoya was able to deduce that it was Nightwing and not the original Batman. She would also run into Bullock who would deduce she was the new Question, because he had worked with her for so long (and because he remembered what Montoya’s butt looked like). Grayson and Montoya stopped the cult along with Azrael and Robin.
Lady Shiva would arrive one day and challenged Montoya to a fight to see if she truly deserved the mantle of the Question. Their fight was cut off by the return of Vic Sage, as a Black Lantern. They were able to figure out that Black Lanterns feed off emotion, so the two were able to control their emotions and Sage left them to seek others. Shiva revealed that she already knew Montoya deserved the mantle, she just wanted to see if Montoya believed she did.
When trying to find a young girl, Montoya would learn of a child slavery ring and begin taking it down after finding the girl. She’d team up with Huntress, and the two would become wanted by the organization and have high prices put on their heads. When the assassin Zeiss showed up to kill them, they were prepared and paid him off to say he’d killed them and to give them a laptop of information. They’d go visit Oracle to help with the laptop, where Montoya learned that Oracle is actually Gordon’s daughter.
They would learn that Vandal Savage was involved. When they caught him he admitted to it, and revealed that since his use of the Spear of Destiny he’d been left with the Mark of Cain, a disfiguring mark on his face. He said he’d stop his plans for vengeance if one of them would take the mark on for him, otherwise he’d continue to spend every waking moment trying to ruin them, their families, and anyone else he could make miserable. Huntress and Montoya fight over who will take the burden, but Huntress knocks out Montoya. Montoya is able to wake in time to disrupt the ritual, and with the Mark gone, Savage ends his crime organizations and Huntress notices she is unmarred. When she asks to see Montoya without her mask, Montoya refuses and leaves. She goes to Nanda Parbat, and Richard Dragon helps her come to accept the mark; and with her desire to not let anyone else have to take it, it fades from her face. She still carries it, but it no longer disfigures her face.
When Bruce Wayne returned, he began Batman Inc. and requested that Montoya head to France to deal with the deadly Golden Portal cult. Montoya joins the cult to take them down from the inside, but is brainwashed. When the cult leader reveals its name as Korrigan, it shakes Montoya out of the brainwashed state since the name reminds her of Jim Corrigan, the man who killed Allen. With the aid of Wayne, Grayson, and the new Batman of France, Nightrunner, Montoya is able to stop the cult.
Back in Gotham, Montoya learns of a weapons selling ring and goes to investigate, and meets up with Huntress. The two team up, and eventually the entire Birds of Prey team are working to shut down this organization. By the end, Oracle makes Huntress the new team leader, and her first order of business is bringing in Montoya.
As of the New 52, it is not known what has happened to Renee Montoya. In Batwoman it is shown that she was a cop at one point. Some believe she may be dead. I hope she’s just faking it and working things out underground as a faceless detective. May Vic Sage, Renee Montoya, and the mantle of The Question return as the great detectives they are.
Batman: No Man’s Land
Crime Bible: Five Lesson of Blood
Final Crisis: Revelations
Detective Comics #854