10 DC Graphic Novels You Must Read Before You Die

10. The Question: Zen And Violence

Denys Cowan/DC Comics

Dennis O'Neil is an absolute legend of the comics medium. Not that you'd have to search far and wide to be reminded so.

Kicking things off with a stellar run on Batman that, in no small way, totally redefined the character, O'Neil would set his sites to a plethora of comic book icons. Green Arrow, Green Lantern and even Marvel's Daredevil have all benefitted from the writer's penmanship, but it is the Question who owes him the most.

Created by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko for Charlton Comics in 1967, the character was originally envisioned as a hot-headed hero spearheaded by the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Time would pass, and the character was one of several to make the leap to DC in the eighties when Charlton was bought out. Alan Moore famously wanted to use him in his original concept for Watchmen, but DC held firm and, but a few years later, the character was given to O'Neil.

Together with artist Denys Cowan, O'Neil reinvented Ditko's creation and turned him into an anti-corruptionist philosopher, one with a major internal struggle and a fierce demeanour to boot.

While Zen and Violence in no way represents the pinnacle of O'Neil's run (that honour goes to Epitaph for a Hero), it does serve as a great jumping-on point for it and establishes many of the themes and philosophies the writer would approach in the series' later stages.

It's one of the smartest storylines in DC's library, and a fine book for anyone after more down-to-earth heroics in their comics.

Comics Editor
Comics Editor

WhatCulture's very own Comics Editor. Cats, comic books and spaghetti westerns are my thing. Rants about stuff @EwanRuinsThings