Renée Montoya was a police officer in Gotham City. She was partnered with Harvey Bullock when she was promoted to homicide detective by Commissioner James Gordon. As partners, Bullock and Renée became close friends. After Bullock was promoted to Lieutenant, Crispus Allen became Renée's new partner. Montoya was a long standing detective on the GCPD before being selected by The Question (Vic Sage) to pass on guidance. After his death, Montoya took up the "Question" identity to become his successor.
Half a Life
When Gotham was destroyed by an earthquake, Renée formed a friendship with the criminal Two-Face. She was able to reach the kinder Harvey Dent persona, and he fell in love with her. However, Two-Face was still mentally unstable. Believing that the only way to have her was by taking everything else away from her, his more sinister side later outed her as a lesbian to the public and had her framed for murder. He then had the bus carrying her to prison attacked and kidnapped her, making it look like she had escaped. When Renée discovered that it was Two-Face who was behind everything, and that he did it because he was in love with her, she was incredulous. Two-Face then became more unstable and the two fought for control of his gun. Batman arrived in time to prevent the two from killing each other. Two-Face was put back in Arkham Asylum and Renée was cleared of all the charges. Her life was still in chaos, however, especially her family; while her younger brother knew about her sexuality, her very religious parents didn't, and disowned her upon discovering the truth.
Montoya and Allen were ambushed by the second Black Spider. To save both himself and Montoya, Allen shot the villain. A corrupt crime scene investigator named Jim Corrigan stole and sold the bullet that killed Black Spider on the Internet. To prove that Allen killed in self-defense, the GCPD needed to recover the bullet. In her pursuit of the bullet, Montoya clashed with Corrigan, eventually beating the name of the buyer out of him. Allen was cleared, but Montoya's obsession with exposing Corrigan escalated from there.
Allen noticed his partner's obsession and gradual change in overall attitude and behavior, and tried to persuade her to let the Corrigan issue drop. Montoya refused, so Allen began his own independent investigation on Corrigan, thinking that if he could get Corrigan exposed and brought to justice, it would help halt Montoya's downward spiral. He started to build a case against Corrigan, where he later found one of his informants on Corrigan murdered. He was then shot fatally in the back by Corrigan.
In the GCPD's investigation, they failed to build an airtight case against Corrigan, who had a fake alibi provided by his girlfriend and paid off the officer who had loaned him the gun he used to kill Allen from the gun locker. Corrigan walked, and Montoya took it upon herself to bring him to justice. Tracking him down at his girlfriend's apartment, Montoya beat his girlfriend unconscious and drew a gun on Corrigan. He begged for his life, and Montoya ultimately couldn't pull the trigger. She walked out of the building and quit the GCPD the next day, disgusted and broken.
52: Dances With Monsters
She began drinking to excess, apparently having developed a drinking problem. Her girlfriend Daria Hernandez had walked out on her three months ago, unable to watch Renée "destroy herself." As Renée was drinking at home, The Question aimed the Bat-Signal (which he changed into a question mark signal) directly upon Renée's apartment. She closed her blinds and ignored it, thinking it was a mistake on the operator's part.
After Renée fell asleep after a one night stand, the Question appeared in her bedroom, leaving behind an address of an abandoned building. Meeting her there, the Question hired her for two hundred dollars a day, plus expenses, to look into the building. Renée kept watch for two weeks before seeing a large, strange, humanoid creature enter the building. Renée followed the creature and, after the Question joined her, they found it moving crates in the building's basement level. In the ensuing confrontation, Renée broke her arm and some ribs, but also found a futuristic gun which dissolved the creature but resolved none of their questions.
As Renée recovered from her injuries, Captain Maggie Sawyer arrived at her apartment with unanswered questions from what Renée told the police. There was no evidence at the scene to substantiate Renée's claims, and while Sawyer believed Renée, she was upset that Renée wouldn't reveal her client, though she cautioned Renée to be careful. Alone in her apartment, Renée removed the mysterious weapon from its hiding place. After the Question's money had run out, Renée noticed an overlooked connection between the abandoned warehouse and Kate Kane, a millionaire socialite and Renée's ex-girlfriend. She arrived at the Kane estate to see Kate in person. Although Kate was somewhat emotional during their conversation (as it was implied their relationship ended badly), when Renee asked her to look into whether her family still owned the building, Kate agreed.
Later, Renée was watching a baseball game in a lesbian bar when a man named Charlie walked in to join her. He revealed himself to be the Question without his disguise on, and in a show of trust, demonstrates how he changed into his faceless alter ego. As their conversation shifted to their investigation, Charlie said that Gotham was being targeted for an invasion by Intergang. Together they met Kate Kane at Gotham Park, where Kate confirmed that the 520 warehouse was being leased by Ridge-Ferrick Holding up until six weeks ago. When Kate asked what this was about, Renée refused to tell her and that she didn't owe Kate anything before leaving somewhat abruptly with Charlie. Later, it was revealed that Renée was trying to protect Kate by keeping her away. Charlie also said that he understood Renée's situation and that she did the right thing by not killing Jim Corrigan.
As the Question and Renée went investigating Ridge-Ferrick's Gotham building, they were attacked by Kyle Abbot and two other shapeshifters under the command of Whisper A'Daire, who ordered them killed. The Question and Renée attempted to defend themselves, with Renée trying to ready her strange gun, when the new Batwoman appeared and defeated two of the beasts. As Renée was about to fire at the third, Batwoman stopped her and kicked the creature out a window just before Batwoman said police were coming, asked not to be mentioned and left.
Following their Intergang links, Question and Renée went to Kahndaq. Kyle Abbot was there as well and murdered the employees of a shipping company that the two were going to investigate. As they left the murder scene, Question and Renée were arrested by the local authorities. They escaped, however, after being imprisoned only a few days. She was able to prevent a suicide bombing at the wedding of Black Adam and Isis, an action that earned her the Order of the Crescent, however she was haunted by the fact that she had to kill a young girl to do so.
Parting ways with Black Adam and his family, Renée and the Question traveled to Nanda Parbat so Renee could train with Richard Dragon. The Question revealed that he was dying of lung cancer, and is grooming Montoya as his replacement. After returning to Gotham to save Kate Kane, the Question is forced to enter hospice care at Kate's, but is moved to a hospital after not breathing for three minutes. He continues his descent in near-death madness, reliving moments from his original series and singing "Danny Boy" as the new year approaches. Renée opts not to perform assisted suicide, as death is the one question he has left. Finally, Renée decides to take him back to Nanda Parbat, in the hopes of saving his life. However, Charlie does not survive the journey, and dies after asking Renée who she "will become".
The Crime Bible
The Question begins to study the Crime Bible, in an effort to stop the Religion of Crime. An apostle of the religion (believing The Question to be 'The Faceless One' from the Crime Bible), uses her quest against them to teach her the four lessons of crime, (deceit, greed, lust, and murder). Kate, seeing that Renee is being changed by her mission, tries to convince her to stop. Renee tells Kate that she's doing this to save her life, since the Crime Bible demands the death of Batwoman.
The apostle, murders another follower of the religion after Renee beats him in combat. The apostle tells her that her besting the man is the reason he had to die, therefore she's committed murder, the last lesson. He then challenges her to a battle to the death, saying he'll kill everyone she loves if she refuses. When they meet to fight he tells her it is her destiny to lead his people, but that she must kill him first. Renee beats him, but refuses to kill him. She attempts to free a hostage the apostle's people are holding, but the apostle charges at the hostage trying to kill her. Renee knocks the apostle away from the hostage, and he gets impaled as he falls, killing him. Renee looks on as the followers bow to The Faceless One.
Montoya has announced her intent to retire from costumed heroics during the recent Final Crisis events, feeling such actions is effecting her sanity, although she returns to the role of the Question later.
Nightwing and Montoya eventually find a strange device in a warehouse guarded by hybrid creatures, which Nightwing hypothesizes is a bomb. Attacked by several Intergang henchmen, the pair are surprisingly helped by a disillusioned Kyle Abbot. The device is activated, erupting a pillar of flame, at the same time numerous other devices are also activate, as Intergang attempts to turn Gotham into a firepit. Montoya wears Charlie's mask for the first time, going after Bruno "Ugly" Mannheim as the Question, and finds Mannheim and Whisper A'Daire about to sacrifice Kate, who is shackled and gagged to a stone altar. Montoya sets Whisper A'Daire on fire, but is about to be killed by Mannheim when Kate stabs him with the sacrificial knife and collapses in Montoya's arms.
Kate survives and returns to her penthouse to recuperate. Montoya, as the Question, shines the Bat-Signal into Kate's apartment and asks, "Are you ready?"
Montoya appears in Countdown #40 where Oracle solicits her help in capturing the Trickster and the Pied Piper, who have been offered partial sanctuary by the Penguin following the murder of Bart Allen. Despite using Oracle's services, Montoya reminds Oracle that this does not make her one of "her Birds". The duo escape the Suicide Squad only to have Montoya catch up to them with Batwoman in tow, although Montoya eventually permits their release, concluding they're too stupid to be murderers. Despite this, Oracle calls upon the Question and Huntress's assistance alongside her Birds in Gotham Underground #2.
She later stars in a 2007 5-issue limited series written by Greg Rucka entitled Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood, which focuses on the Question's pursuit of the Crime Bible, and its adherents' efforts to convert her to their cause in turn. Appearing in Grant Morrison's Final Crisis (2008), Montoya is seen informing Dan Turpin of her own investigations of the Dark Side Club run by Boss Dark Side, and later battling Frankenstein and the agents of S.H.A.D.E. as part of her struggle to put together an apocalyptic conspiracy related to the Crime Bible (now in possession of Libra) and Darkseid. She is accosted by S.H.A.D.E. agents, however, in her civilian identity when she stops to attend to the body of a dying German Supergirl from a parallel world.
Simultaneously, Montoya appears in the Final Crisis: Revelations miniseries, by Greg Rucka. While trying to stop members of the Religion of Crime from obtaining a mystic weapon, she is confronted by the Spectre (whose current host is Crispus Allen, Montoya's former partner), who states that she is about to receive judgment. He is stopped by Radiant, the Spirit of Mercy.
Maggie Sawyer, corrupted by the Anti-Life Equation, emerges from Gotham Central along with the rest of the brainwashed Gotham City police force. They attempt to unleash the Equation on Montoya, but are stopped by the intervention of the Spectre and Radiant. The Spectre is not able to hold them off for long, because they are protected by the same force that protects Libra. Instead, Radiant makes sure that Montoya can't be brainwashed, and teleports her away. Observing the surroundings, she finds Batwoman lying in the streets. When she goes to check on her, Batwoman reveals that she now obeys Darkseid as well, and starts to recite the Equation. It appears, however, that Montoya is completely immune to the Equation; in the following issue, she is seen in complete control of her own mind.
Montoya appears in Final Crisis #5, recruited by the underground resistance movement organized by Checkmate. She is told that she must travel the DC Multiverse and gather help for New Earth. In Final Crisis #7 She is seen accompanied by Captain Marvel (of Earth 5) where she gathers a group of alternate versions of Superman that help end the Final Crisis and defeat Mandrakk the dark monitor. She identifies herself as a "Global Peace agent" in Final Crisis #7 - an allusion to the faceless agents of the GPA from the original OMAC series.
Most recently, Renee as the Question takes the case of a missing illegal immigrant — the young sister of the man named Hector Soliz seeking her detective services. She follows some leads to their hideout and discovers that the girl may be involved in a child slavery ring. While investigating a businessman who she believes is involved with the slavery, Montoya is kidnapped and left to die after being tied up in the trunk of a car that was driven into a river. She easily escapes and eventually tracks the slaves to a boat owned by the businessman. After a brief fight with several henchmen, the police arrive and rescue the women, reuniting Hector with his sister.
When Montoya briefly returned to Gotham City, she worked with Dick Grayson as the new Batman and quickly realized that he was the old Nightwing. Her old partner Harvey Bullock also deduced that Renee is the new Question.
During the events of Blackest Night, Renee is tracked down by Lady Shiva, who claims that she wishes to test her in combat to see if she is a worthy successor to Vic Sage. The two women engage in a brutal fist fight, only to be interrupted when Sage, now resurrected as a member of the Black Lantern Corps, arrives on the scene and attacks them. After a drawn out battle, Renee discovers that Black Lanterns feed on emotions, and that if she is able to cut herself off from her feelings, she will become invisible. She does so, and angered, Victor stalks off into the night, searching for easier prey. Shiva reveals that she never intended to actually fight Montoya, but felt that attacking her would draw Vic out into the open so she could face him again.
Some time after this, Renee teams up with the Huntress in order to bring down a criminal enterprise. Eventually, the hitman known as Philo Zeiss attacks the women, having been ordered by an unknown client to kill them. Renee appeals to the hitman's greed, offering him more money if he simply fakes their deaths and leaves them be. After this, Huntress takes Renee to Oracle for help in tracking down the client who put out the hit, and is flabbergasted upon discovering that Oracle is in fact "Commissioner Gordon's daughter". The two women eventually make their way to Oolong Island (home of the Doom Patrol), where they are arrested.
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Powers and Abilities
- Master Combatant: Renee is a master combatant; she received training from the GCPD and later by the the Question and Richard Dragon. She can control her nervous system, enabling her to deaden her body to physical pain, control her emotions, and even control her bleeding rate. She is highly proficient in Boxing, Aikido, Karate, Dragon and Leopard Styles of Kung Fu, Jujutsu, and Judo, having learnt them all from Richard Dragon.
- Renée Montoya possesses the strength level of a woman her age, size and weight who engages in intensive regular exercise.
- The Question's Mask
In Other Media
- Renee Montoya was originally created for Batman: The Animated Series but DC's writers preemptively introduced her in an issue of the Batman comic. On the animated series, Montoya was an honest, strong-willed cop frequently partnered with (or serving as foil to) Harvey Bullock. She was voiced by Ingrid Oliu and Liane Schirmer.
- Victoria Cartagena portrayed Montoya in the TV series Gotham. She is portrayed as a former lover of Barbara Kean and the partner of Crispus Allen. Montoya appears only in the first season, making her last appearance in "Rogues' Gallery".
- The character of Anna Ramirez in the Nolan film series is partially inspired by Renee Montoya. Ramirez is featured in Batman: Gotham Knight and The Dark Knight as a member of the GCPD and partner of Crispus Allen (Gotham Knights) and later Michael Wuertz (The Dark Knight). However, unlike Montoya, Ramirez is an informant for Sal Maroni and is indirectly responsible for Harvey Dent's disfigurement. Though she survives the latter, she does not appear in The Dark Knight Rises, presumably discharged from the GCPD.
- Rosie Perez portrays Montoya in Birds of Prey, as a member of the GCPD and later the Birds of Prey.
- Montoya appears briefly in Batman: Dark Victory, alongside Harvey Bullock.
- Montoya's name appears on a board in Batman: Arkham Knight, listing GCPD Detectives and their shifts.
- Renee Montoya appears as a supporting character in Batman: The Telltale Series and its sequel, Batman: The Enemy Within. She is voiced by Krizia Bajos in the former game and Sumalee Montano in the latter.
- Renee Montoya will appear in the upcoming Gotham Knights as a GCPD captain and ally to the Batman Family.
- Renée Montoya was born on September 7.
- Renée Montoya occasionally spells her name, Rene.
- Renée Montoya is currently a recovering alcoholic.
- She once had an affair with Gotham City socialite, Kate Kane, the modern age version of Batwoman.
- Renee Montoya, a police officer and detective of the Gotham City Police Department, was created for the animated series, but actually appeared in the comics first due to the lengthy production time of the show. She guest starred in numerous Bat-Family titles before being cast as one of the lead characters in Gotham Central, then 52. She also wore the mantle of The Question for a time.