Renee Montoya was a Gotham City native who joined Gotham City Police Department. She was promoted to detective by Commissioner Gordon and partnered with Harvey Bullock.
The character of Renee Montoya was originally created for Batman: the Animated Series. However, before debuting on the television series, her character was introduced in an issue of the Batman ongoing series in 1992 and had a recurring role as one of the faces of the Gotham City Police Department.
In 2000, Renee Montoya's character climbed to a new level of prominence by becoming a major supporting cast member of Greg Rucka's first Detective Comics run. Rucka essentially took ownership over the character, writing her in several series over the course of the next decade and being the source of the majority of her development as a character.
Rucka is the writer who established Renee as one of DC's most prominent homosexual character along with already being one of its more prominent Latina characters. He also wrote the character's transition from being a supporting member of Batman's supporting cast to being DC's new Question.
Major Story Arcs
No Man's Land
For further details: No Man's Land
Renee Montoya was one of the many Gotham City police officers to stay behind after an earthquake devastated the city and the United States government abandoned it. She was a major member of Commissioner Gordon's Blue Boys faction and crucial in working out a deal with Two-Face. Unfortunately, this arrangement backfired on her and Gordon.
Two-Face mistook Renee's concern and attention as romantic and fell in love with her. As a result, he ends up holding her captive for a time in the ruined city. Then, he abducts Gordon as well to put Gordon on trial for perceived wrongdoings. Renee successfully convinces Two-Face that a trial needs a defense as well as a prosecution, leading to Harvey Dent taking Gordon's defense. Dent wins the trial, and they are all allowed to leave.
After the no man's land decision on Gotham City is repealed, Renee becomes an official member of the Gotham City Police Department again.
For further details: Officer Down
When Commissioner Gordon was shot three times in the back on his birthday, the case fell to Renee and her new partner Detective Crispus Allen. They eventually found the guy who did it, but this man, Jordan Reynolds, was still only a suspect until they could prove it. Putting him in interrogation, she and Crispus worked on getting a confession out of him. Renee wanted to bring in Batman almost immediately, but Crispus would not agree. He was a cop from Metropolis and did not approve of using Batman like that for police work. But in her emotional state, she also took it to mean Crispus did not care enough about what happened to Gordon like the rest of them. In the end, they played the Bat card after all, but the confession it provoked out of Reynolds was not enough. He worded it in a way that allowed him to quickly slip out of it, and he walked.
Even though Gordon was recovering, the idea of Reynolds walking free after what he did was too much for Renee. She tracked him to his apartment and kicked in his door with the intent of shooting him. Her old partner, Harvey Bullock, arrived in time to stop her, reminding her of how much Gordon would disapprove.
Bruce Wayne: Murderer
For further details: Bruce Wayne: Murderer and Bruce Wayne: Fugitive
Vesper Fairchild was found murdered in Wayne Manor. Renee and Cris were given the case as the Major Crime Unit's two best detectives, and Renee's partner was assigned as the primary. The scene suggested that Bruce Wayne and his bodyguard Sasha Bordeaux did it, but something about it felt off to Renee. Still, there was no arguing with the mounting evidence. They tried to get confessions, with Renee taking on Sasha in interrogation, but could not get anywhere with either of the suspects. Despite that, the evidence was so great that they did not really need the confessions to charge them with murder.
Then, Renee and Cris suddenly found themselves back on the case. Bruce had escaped from Blackgate Penitentiary and gone fugitive. Rumor had it that Bruce fled the country to Santa Prisca, but neither of them bought into the story, especially not Renee's partner. She tagged along as he became increasingly frustrated with his failed attempts to crack Alfred Pennyworth, who they were sure knew more than he was telling. Eventually, the matter seemingly resolved itself with David Cain confessing to framing Bruce for the murder.
Half a Life
Later, Renee found out what it was like to be on the receiving end of a frame job with someone trying to systematically ruin her life. It began with her being outed as a lesbian with pictures of her with her lover, Daria Hernandez, being circulated. Her homosexuality was something she long kept secret from everyone except her younger brother. Then, a bag of heroin was planted on her and the man responsible for the photos turned up dead, having been shot with her weapon. Renee suddenly found herself on trial with first degree murder at the top of the list of charges, and there was nothing her partner could do about it. Her connection to Bullock, a disgraced former cop, did not win her any favors with Internal Affairs.
What was happening became more clear when Two-Face abducted her from police custody, making it appear that she had escaped. He was the one responsible for destroying her life. Because of his warped obsession with her, he was convinced that leaving her with no option but a life with him would make her love him back. Renee fought to escape from him, and fortunately, Batman intervened. Two-Face was taken back to Arkham Asylum, and she was cleared of all charges. However, damage to her life and reputation had still been done.
For further details: War Games
As a gang war threw Gotham City into chaos, Renee and Cris stumbled upon an obvious kill crew heading into a building. The sound of gunfire came before their backup did, so they went in. What they did not realize was the kill crew was going after the Black Spider. After cuffing the crew, Black Spider got the drop on Renee, and she only survived thanks to her vest. As he was about to finish her off, Cris came in and gunned him down.
Unfortunately, one of the handcuffed suspects took in bullet in the chaos and the evidence that would prove it came from one of Black Spider's guns and not Cris' went missing. Jim Corrigan, one of the forensic technicians, was crooked and made money on the side by auctioning off evidence from interesting crime scenes. He auctioned the bullet off, claiming it was the one that killed Black Spider. He covered his bases well enough that Internal Affairs could not touch him, and Cris was going to go down for the shooting without that bullet. Renee knew all this and beat down Corrigan outside a bar until he gave the name of who bought the bullet so she and Manny Esperanza could go get it.
Because of the means Renee used to get information out of Corrigan, she effectively destroyed Esperanza's ongoing Internal Affairs investigation of him. Clearing Cris of wrongdoing meant letting Corrigan continue with his crooked ways, and Renee eventually discovered that was too much for her partner to allow. He had been doing his own investigation of Corrigan since that incident and left her and Esperanza out of it because their hands were dirty when it came to Corrigan. She, who had already been having anger issues since Two-Face exposed her homosexuality and her family disowned her, was angry that he would do this without telling her, but he was completely right she could not be involved.
Tragically, Corrigan found out about Cris' investigation and lured Renee's partner into a trap, shooting him in the back.
When the body was found, Renee knew exactly who was to blame. The whole Major Crime Unit knew it was Corrigan, but it was a matter of proving it. Renee was too close to be allowed to work the case, so she had to stand aside while Corrigan managed to squirm his way out of it. As close as they came to proving Corrigan murdered Cris, they came up short and he walked. This was too much for Renee. After a night of drinking, she kicked down Corrigan's door and put a gun to his head only to find that she could not bring herself to pull the trigger.
Renee then quit the force and cut herself off from Daria and her remaining friends.
For further details: 52
Renee had fallen into a pit of alcoholism and depression so bad that even Daria gave up on her. Then, the Question inexplicably came to her and hired her as a private detective to help him investigate Intergang's presence in Gotham City. Once the investigation began, it only got stranger and stranger. Alien weaponry, mutated werebeasts, some kind of Religion of Crime. Soon, she and the Question find themselves pursuing the investigation well outside of Gotham.
Renee found herself in Kahndaq attending the wedding of Black Adam and Isis, where she presented a suicide bombing by shooting the girl rigged with explosives. For this act of heroism, Black Adam wanted to award her and Question with Kahndaq's highest honors. Instead, Renee drank herself into a stupor and went off with another woman to get over the fact that she just shot a girl. Their continued investigation into Intergang in Kahndaq led them to discovering how Intergang was using and abusing children for their ends. Along with Black Adam and Isis, they were able to dismantle the operation and surprisingly reunite Isis with her younger brother, Osiris.
Question brought Renee to Nanda Parbat to meet Richard Dragon, the man who taught him to cope with the anger that Renee struggled with now. So Dragon began teaching her, but she did not understand what he was trying to teach exactly. An old friend Question's, Aristotle Rodor, was also there and spent the time trying to decipher the Crime Bible they brought with them for answers. While there, she learned the truth about Question. He was dying and did not have long left.
Tot determined that what Intergang was trying to do in Gotham was bring about a prophecy that required the sacrifice of the twice-named daughter of Cain, and that was all Renee needed to hear to realize what the tangible danger. Kate Kane, a secret love from Renee's past, was now operating in Gotham as the new Batwoman. That was who Intergang wanted. Renee and Question returned to Gotham to warn her, but by the time they got there, Question's condition worsened to the point that he barely stand anymore. Renee and Kate were reunited for a short time, watching over Charlie together and spending the holiday season with one another. But Question's days were coming to an end, and Renee could not stay. She did all she could to get him back to Nanda Parbat in time, hoping something could be done there to keep him alive. Unfortunately, she dragged him practically to Nanda Parbat's doorstep when they could make it no farther and the Question passed away.
Again, Renee had tragically lost a partner. She mourned for Question in Nanda Parbat, continuing her training under Dragon. There was a question that she had been asked several times in past several months that she did not have a satisfying answer to. Who was she? Eventually, she knew it was time to leave. She had to return to Gotham and make sure she did not lose someone else she cared about. Intergang was still targeting Batwoman.
Renee to Gotham knowing who she now was. She was the Question. Intergang had already abducted Batwoman, but with the help of Nightwing and others, she was able to track down where the ritual sacrifice was to take place. She arrived but was unable to stop Bruno Mannheim from stabbing the knife into Batwoman's chest. She fights Bruno away from Batwoman, giving Batwoman opportunity to pull the knife out and throw it into Bruno to kill him instead.
Batwoman survived her severe injury, and Renee was now at the end of her year long journey, having finally found herself as the new Question.
The Crime Bible
As the new Question, Renee became obsessed with finding answers about the Crime Bible and its Religion of Crime. With every piece of information she found, she came to also find something seductive about the dark religion's teachings. Kate saw the effect her investigation was having on her. When Kate helped her get a rare copy of the Crime Bible, the two lovers came to blows over it, because Kate did not want to give it to Renee. But Renee had to have it and told Kate why. It was because she had to know as much as she could about them so she could protect Kate from them. That answer was not good enough for Kate. She never asked to be protected. But she did leave Renee with the copy of the Crime Bible.
All the time Renee was investigating the Religion of Crime, she was also chasing a man called Flay, leader of the religion's Order of the Stone. What she did not realize was that he was making sure she learned the Crime Bible's lessons of blood, because she was part of the prophesied Parable of the Faceless. When it was time, he threatened to murder all those she cared about if she did not come to meet him. She of course complied. He forced her into a death match with him and said whoever survived would lead the order. She was able to maintain the upper hand over him but continued to refuse to kill him. She had no interest in being part of their faith. He would not surrender though. Soon, she had no choice but to inadvertently kill him. The Order of the Stone then bowed before their new master.
For further details: Final Crisis
Renee refused the Order of the Stone and learned from their religions prophecies and agendas details of the coming Final Crisis. She passed information along to Dan Turpin about a missing children case he was working, because it tied into what she knew about the Dark Side Club targeting metahuman kids. Leaving him to that, she took off after the Order of the Stone's attempt to acquire the Spear of Destiny. She failed to keep them from it due to the Spectre's interference. But it wasn't simply the Spectre. It was her dead partner Crispus Allen, the new host to the Spectre, who had been sent to kill her for being the leader of the Order of the Stone. He allowed her a final kindness, transporting her back to Gotham so she could see Kate one last time. Before her divine execution could be carried around, the Radiant appeared and granted her God's mercy.
But this happened just as Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation was spreading through the world. Renee, Crispus and the Radiant were attacked by members of the GCPD, now under Darkseid's control. Since the Spectre's power could not touch them, they had to take refuge in a church, where they were joined by the Huntress. Along with the horde of Darkseid's new slaves, Vandal Savage arrived with the Order of the Stone and wielded the Spear of Destiny. He used it to overpower and enslave the Spectre. Renee allowed herself to be run through with the spear just so she could then take it away from Savage. To purify the weapon, she had to use it in a selfless act rather than to heal herself, so she struck it into Crispus' spirit and healed the loss of his son. The Spectre was back to full power, and the Radiant healed her.
With Darkseid still taking over the world, Renee returned to Metropolis. She found the husk that used to be Darkseid's human host and evaded capture by SHADE when Frankenstein and them arrived. She did not get far before Checkmate found her and brought her in. They wanted her help and showed her their plans to breach the multiverse and evacuate people to a new world. According to them, she would lead the peace agency to help establish them there. What they planned did not matter. Darkseid's death dragged the Earth into the abyss, and Renee was transported by Shilo Norman's Mother Box to a parallel world. She then set out into the Bleed on a multiverse ship, having volunteered to gather the Supermen of all worlds . She succeeded in gathering this force that helped Superman against the evil Mandrakk, and her Earth was returned to its proper place, where she could return.
The Eighth Deadly Sin
Renee returned to Gotham City as the Question to help Batman, now Dick Grayson, with a child abduction case. A terrible cult was planning to sacrifice eight children to awaken the supposed Eighth Sinner, so time was short to find these missing kids. Fortunately, dealing with secretive cults and their rituals was quickly becoming Renee's specialty. This was not something she necessarily was proud of. Nor was she happy to be returning to Gotham City again.
Renee knew from the start that she was dealing with a new Batman and even deduced that it was Nightwing under the cowl. Getting a taste of her own medicine, she came across her old partner Harvey Bullock, who recognized who she was behind that mask because of her rear end.
The Question, Azrael, Batman and Robin were able to save the children and disrupt the cult's plans.
For further details: Blackest Night
As the Black Lantern Corps ran rampant on Earth, Renee remained in the lighthouse with Tot, who had a plan to bring Charlie back as a Black Lantern. Tot wanted to talk to Charlie again and learn the mysteries of life and death. Renee did not and thought what Tot was doing was simply a bad idea. Debate on the issue was interrupted by Lady Shiva's arrival. She challenged Renee to combat, leaving Renee no real choice but to fight. As they fought outside in the rain, a black power ring came for strands of Charlie's hair Tot had prepared and brought Charlie back as a Black Lantern.
At the sight of Charlie, Renee felt nothing but pure compassion for her fallen friend, but she knew better than to believe this was really Charlie trying to kill them all. None of them had the means to defeat a Black Lantern, though. Lady Shiva understood that the Black Lanterns came for them because of their emotions and that if they could feel nothing for Charlie he would no longer see them. Renee relayed this information to Tot before calming herself and disappearing from Charlie's perception. Unable to see any of them anymore, Charlie left to find other targets. Renee made sure Tot would be okay, and then she donned the Question mask to go hunt Charlie's corpse down.
Renee went into business as a private detective, working out of the lighthouse left to her and Tot by Vic Sage. Those who needed her help could reach her through her website and ask her the questions they needed her to find answers for. Tot worked along with her out of obligation to the memory of Vic. Her first job was to find a missing girl who had supposedly been smuggled into the country but her brother never saw her arrive. The investigation led her to California and a human smuggling operation. With Tot's help on the intelligence front, she was able to work her way up the operations ladder and locate the shipping vessel with her missing woman. After some violence and a tip to the FBI, Renee reunited brother and sister.
Continuing her investigation of the human trafficking ring, Renee reached out to the Huntress for help going up against organized crime. The disruptions they caused for the criminal enterprise earned them a price on their heads that Zeiss came looking to collect. What he did not realize was that the Question and Huntress planned for him to catch up to them, so when he appeared at the lighthouse, they were not surprised. They fought, with Zeiss having the upper hand on the two of them, until Renee could explain what they had in mind for him. In return for reporting their deaths and a laptop containing information on the criminal network, they paid Zeiss two million dollars and the Huntress' Lamborghini. Tot was furious that Renee would deal with a man like Zeiss.
Since Tot wanted no part of things, the Question and Huntress had to go elsewhere to decrypt the information on the laptop. Fortunately, Huntress had the perfect contact for such a task, and Renee was dumbstruck that this contact turn out to be Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's little girl. Babs was able to give them what they needed, plus the technological means to track down the network to its source. The trail took the two to Oolong Island, where they were immediately detained and brutally interrogated as spies. After neither of them would talk, they were granted an audience with the country's president-for-life, Veronica Cale. They explained their business on Oolong Island and sold her on the story that it would be better to point them in the direction of who was running the network, before bigger league superheroes started showing up with questions. So off to Syria they journeyed, where they discovered that Cale had alerted the man behind the network and that this man was none other than Vandal Savage.
Savage wanted them there for a reason. His face still bore the Mark of Cain from his last encounter with them, and it could only be removed through a ritual where one of them would take it on herself. Without the mark, he would be free to move on to other things besides the network of human suffering he currently ran. That was his offer. Remove the mark from him, and his network would be no more. Refuse him and he would make them and their loved ones pay. The Question and Huntress weighed their options, deciding there was no way they could escape if they left Savage utterly devoted to revenge on them. Both were willing to be the one to take the mark, but Huntress was the quickest with the sleeper hold. She left Question unconscious and began the ritual with Savage. However, the Question did not stay out of it for long and woke up in time to interrupt. She lit the room on fire and fled with Huntress as Savage rejoiced the fact that the Mark of Cain had left his face despite the interference. After they were away, Huntress remarked about that. She did not bear the mark, and neither did Savage anymore. She asked the Question to remove her mask, and Renee refused.
Later, Renee voyages back to Nanda Parbat to confront her demons. Richard Dragon leads her to a secret chamber. Inside is the one who the Mark of Cain was stolen from…he attacks Renee, wanting the mark back. Renee removes her mask, confirming that she does indeed carry the mark, but refuses to let him take it. She will not let another take this burden. By accepting her flaws, and the Mark of Cain, it fades from her face. It is not gone, but it will no longer be visible. Renee confirms that she can handle it, and leaves.
For further details: Batman Incorporated
Now burdened with the Mark of Cain, Renee journeyed back to Nanda Parbat for help. Richard Dragon took her to a hidden chamber that housed a man who once also held the mark and who desperately wanted it back for his own twisted reasons. He tried to tempt Renee into giving it to him, but instead, she refused to inflict the curse upon someone else. Through her own will and acceptance, she was able to suppress the mark and make it less visible according to her mental state.
Soon after, the Question's presence was asked for by the recently returned Bruce Wayne. Bruce had brought his new Batman Incorporate franchise to France, where a cult known as the Golden Portal was causing violence. Once again, Renee found herself needed for her expertise with cults. She went undercover and allowed herself to be taken by the mental influence of the cult's leader, a being calling herself Korrigan. She then broke herself free by focusing her rage on Korrigan's name and how it reminded her of Jim Corrigan.
Once free, she was able to assist Bruce and Dick as well as the new Batman of France, Nightrunner, in bringing down the cult.
Meanwhile, Renee Montoya has returned to Gotham. She has been hearing rumors about the purchasing of weapons and drugs. The deal apparently is supposed to take place in Gotham’s sewers. She also overhears the possibility that good cops she once knew have gone dirty and are setting up this purchase. One night, Huntress finds Montoya opening a manhole cover with a crowbar. Both women agree to help each other and they both drop down the access chute.
Huntress spots an armed lookout at one end of the tunnel and takes him out. They head down to the tunnel complex which is in the center of Gotham’s sewage system. They eventually come across the deal and leap into action. Unfortunately, the rapid gunfire ruptures some of the sewers’ pressure valves and gallons of sewage water come crashing through the tunnel complex. Huntress uses her grappling crossbow to lift Montoya and one of the dirty cops into the air as the rest of the perpetrators are swept away.
The women make for a safer vantage point and begin to interrogate the corrupt cop. The cop however, pleads with the two women to just drop him into the raging sewage water and let him drown. His reason for wanting to die is because someone who worked for “undisclosed firm” put him up to arranging this deal and if the deal was not successful then his wife would be killed for his failure. The extortionist (Junior) of this deal had already murdered the officer’s sister in law and now this facilitator will kill his wife. As a side note: the inkblot that Tripe showed to his potential interns may be the remains of the officer’s sister in law (Check Alex Merkel).
Huntress calls Oracle and tells her to get the team out of the firm before its too late. Unfortunately, Babs can't hear Helena's order because Huntress' signal is too weak in the sewers so she calls in Catman to help Huntress at the firm. Huntress realizes this lack of communication and decides to head to the firm herself and rescue her teammates. When they reach the surface, Huntress and Question hop on Huntress' motorcycle then they make their way to the firm.
Catman meets Huntress and Question in front of the firm. The Junior's deadly interns take Hawk as their hostage and lead him to the roof of the firm where a helicopter is waiting. Huntress, Question and Catman intercept the helicopter before the twins did. They rescue Hawk and Huntress puts an end to the twins by using an explosive arrow to blow up the helicopter that they were in. After all of this chaos, the Birds couldn't find Junior who has escaped once again and Babs promotes Huntress as the new leader of the Birds of Prey. Huntress first act as leader is to welcome Question to the Birds of Prey because of Montoya’s keen detective skills.
Powers and Abilities
The Question is a highly skilled martial artist, having been trained by Richard Dragon and the Question. How she compares to DC's top tier martial artists is undetermined, but she has proven herself to be more than capable of handling multiple average foes. She is considered to be a great fighter; even without super powers. Renee Montoya isn't in the same fighting league as Black Canary or Lady Shiva.
Her training as a police officer leaves her with a proficiency with firearms and a willingness to use them. Also, it seems to have left her with a preference for using short clubbing weapons such as batons or nunchucks.
The meditative techniques she learned during her time at Nanda Parbat have given her strong mental control, allowing her to calm her emotions and resist brainwashing or other mind manipulation attempts.
Weapons and Accessories
The mask giving the Question her faceless appearance is made of pseudoderm, a material created from research into Gingold Extract and the technology of Dr. No-Face. Although the mask covers her eyes and mouth, she is fully able to both see and breathe.
Stored in her belt, this chemical compound is the agent that binds the pseudoderm mask to her face. It also has the effect of altering the color of specially treated clothes and hair. It has lately had the effect of turning her hair blonde.
For further details: Flashpoint
In an alternate timeline created by Reverse Flash, Renee Montoya was still no longer a member of the Gotham City Police Department, but this was because security for Gotham City had been privatized by Thomas Wayne. Renee was reduced to running a bar where many unsavory types would frequent and where Batman would occasionally stop by for information.
Batman: the Animated Series
For further details: Batman: the Animated Series
Renee Montoya was voiced in the series by Ingrid Oliu and created specifically for the show. She was a recurring character who openly supported Batman along with Commissioner Gordon, unlike Harvey Bullock. As the series progressed, the character developed from a uniformed police officer to a plainclothes detective who ended up becoming Harvey Bullock's partner.
She also appeared in the animated film Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero.
The Dark Knight
For further details: the Dark Knight and Batman: Gotham Knight
Though Renee Montoya did not technically appear in the second of Christopher Nolan's Batman films, the character of Anna Ramirez was clearly based on her character considering Anna matched Renee's description and was shown to be Crispus Allen's partner in that continuity. Allegedly, the reason the character was not outright called Renee Montoya was due to the unheroic plot twist the Anna Ramirez character takes in the film.