Sometimes, I feel as though I’ve been spoiled. See, I came to the Valiant party pretty late, having only flirted with the publisher’s stuff in the mid-to-late 90s, but jumping aboard with both hands and feet since its relaunch a few years back. In that time, and amongst all of its gems, it was last year’s Quantum and Woody reboot especially that made, in me, a firm fan. Even though I had absolutely zero experience in reading the original series, it proved impossible not to fall in love with Asmus’ erstwhile sibling buddy-cop romp, with a hilarious yet touching writing style that is consistently paired with well-chosen artistic partners in crime. So yes, I’ve been spoiled. But if Asmus and his artists could be called the “odd-parents” of my love for the series, then surely the conceptual “grandaddies” who created the duo - Priest and Bright - would spoil me all the more with their big comeback in Q2. I’ve even heard from old fans that the original Quantum and Woody was superior to its modern iteration! So surely I was going to like this. Right?
From the opening sequence, I knew I wasn’t going to like this book. Q2 starts off with a flashback scene of a vaguely younger Quantum and Woody walking with a pair of adolescent or teenage ladies in the woods, before coming across a dead body, lots of money and some good ol’ fashioned stranger-danger. This set up is fine, but amidst infuriatingly unfunny analyses about Of Mice and Men and jokes surrounding “boob grabs,” it’s clear that this is a much more puerile take on the characters, which I didn’t think could be bad. Oh, but it is...
Admittedly, maybe that’s how it always was before the reboot, I don’t know; although, if it was, I’m pretty glad I missed it. And look, I know that Asmus employs his fair share of “potty” humor, which I enjoy as much as the next immature adult male, but only if it’s done cleverly. Here, it just feels like sitting through an eight year old’s attempt at telling a fart joke he just made up.
After the book’s action sequence, wherein the modern-day Quantum does battle with unbreakable thief, Koro; and just before a strangely convoluted origin story retelling, we get treated to another attempt at humor that falls flat. In searching for his old crime-fighting partner, the original Woody returns to discover that his and Eric’s superhero legacies have been taken over by a new team of young kids, and the verbal exchange they share is just plain childish. I get that the Woody characters share a stunted mental growth, but this was like something you’d get out of an old episode of Looney Toons.
Even though it was painfully obvious that Q2 was written with the intent to be funny, I didn’t laugh one time. Unlike the new series, which unfortunately takes a break to make room for this purely nostalgia-driven comeback, this book tries way too hard to be sophomoric and goofy, but comes off all the more hollow for it. Even in the brief past encounters we get flashes of this issue, the titular “heroes” lack the kind of chemistry I’ve come to love in the new series, while all of the other interactions feel like a comic book version of canned laughter.
The art from Bright, with inks from Dexter Vines, is okay, and at the best of times reminds me of Byrne’s stuff: square-jawed and bulbously muscular. Unfortunately, while benefitting from the more vibrant colors of Passalaqua, it’s not as consistent. Bright’s cars and machinery are fantastic, it must be said, and his figures - especially at the start - while clean, have an oscillating quality, particularly in their facial expressions. Overall, it’s fine, but not enough to save the story.
Like I said, maybe Q2 will appeal to old fans of the series, if for nothing other than a shot of nostalgia. Unfortunately, it’s just not for me, because I’ve already been spoiled by something better. See you when my Quantum and Woody comes back. Until then, I’ll be over with The Delinquents.
Writer: Priest Artist: M.D. Bright Colorist: Allen Passalaqua Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/15/14 Format: Print/Digital