QUANTUM & WOODY #1
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Tom Fowler
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
There’s a sect of fangeezers out there that have been on a quest for the better part of twenty years. Desperately we have traversed the comic book stands for what we affectionately once dubbed the Bwahaha. This seemingly nonsensical phrase refers to a time at DC Comics when the books were able to deliver an equal balance of humor along with emotionally weighty moments. Most of the Bwa came from JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, the team that was manipulated together in a scheme begging for them to fail. They didn’t fail, they triumphed, and characters like Booster Gold and Blue Beetle kept us laughing until Doomsday cleaned Superman’s clock in 1992, at the same time making us believe that comics could have heart. We all thought there would be a chance for the Bwa to return when JLI launched post-New 52. Sadly it more blech than Bwa, and as such was one of the first titles to be voted off the island. Well, I am now here to herald the return of Bwa; it simply now resides over in Valiant’s QUANTUM & WOODY.
QUANTUM AND WOODY is the ultimate buddy comedy, an Odd Couple in spandex. These two brothers couldn’t be more polar opposites, and I say this without even acknowledging the fact that one is black and one is white. Now, while I won’t acknowledge this point, the book has no qualms in pointing out the Oreo on the shelf. In between jibes at Woody’s complete ineptitude and Quantum’s overly anal retentiveness there is a sprinkling of racial recognition, but Asmus never crosses any lines of good taste. In fact, at best their adopted nature is a footnote, but it is poetically delivered by the father of the pair in a flashback after his murder.
That’s right: QUANTUM & WOODY band together after years of estrangement to try and solve who killed their father, a scientist hell-bent on unlocking the secrets of the universe. Their estrangement is delivered in an interspersed style of flashbacks that really helped the book keep moving so there isn’t an ounce of heavily belabored exposition. From schoolyard fights vehemently protecting the other’s honor, to their teenage finding of self and ultimate separation of ways, Asmus always remembers the true love/hate of honest brotherhood. In fact, the two get their powers (whatever those might be) in a toddler-level scuffle to don a HAZMAT suit when they lock themselves inside their father’s particle thingamabobby. Being an only child, I’ve never understood this desire to man-wrestle for things, but I have enough cousins that ‘ve seen bloody noses delivered over who gets to hold the fucking Nintendo controller. Madness, but hilarious madness.
Despite my fervent lifelong love affair with all things Valiant, I missed QUANTUM & WOODY during valiant 1.0 in the 90s. I bailed on most titles after Shooter was shown the door, and by ‘96 all of my free money was being used to procure brick weed to seduce a bunch of Ani DeFranco fans (shhh–I still don’t believe they don’t like guys). Some of my contemporaries say this first issue lacked the bite of that series. Never having read it, I would be a charlatan to disagree. I will say after hearing some of the blatant racial jokes, though: times have changed, guys, and some of those jokes simply feel hackneyed in the context of society today. There are a shit ton more multicultural households today, and thankfully most of us have moved passed the idea that color versus environment defines the individual.
For me, Asmus and crew simply need to poke fun at the superhero genre like they did cover to cover on this book. Speaking of the covers, they are pretty spot-on about what’s inside the book. From the goat proclaiming “meh” to the cover where they slap bracelets and sarcastically battle cry the sound effect klang, this series is dryer than a new Maytag.
My only question, quandary and general cornfusion stems from how this integrates into the rest of the Valiant U. Valiant of yore and the current run set the bar for editorial excellence and communication across titles. Even before mini-events like the current HARBINGER WARS, Valiant would sprinkle small little morsels of other title happenings. QUANTUM & WOODY for now is completely off the reservation. From newscasters talking about superheroes to nary a word about a little stand-off that has shut down Las Vegas, these guys are islands in their own stream. That’s OK, I guess. I still naively believe books should serve a larger universal whole, but I don’t fault those that tell me my thinking is antiquated and just enjoy the damn story.
Make no mistake: I did enjoy QUANTUM & WOODY, thoroughly. Fowler draws action as adeptly as douchebaggery. Asmus is as funny as he is sincere. Plausible implausibility makes for some of the best comics, and in that regard QUANTUM & WOODY is bar none.