Review: Quantum and Woody #11

This time, in quite possibly the single most entertaining superhero comic book on the stands today, our titular boys - imprisoned for their opposing roles in a Smithsonian artifact heist last issue - get a visit from the book’s first and motliest villain collective, Edison’s Radical Acquisitions (E.R.A.). What follows is a plentiful bounty of hilarity, and very real feels and thrills. While Woody is forced to finally confront his relationship with both Sixty-Nine and two disgruntled giant mech suit operators, Quantum must contend with a sneaky (and woefully obsolete) “polaroid android,” and Vincent van Goat (Woody’s pet mutant billy goat / living receptacle for [SPOILER] their previously-thought dead father’s consciousness), must fight, and I quote, “Mutated Power-Drinking Chupacabras of Doom,” sicced on him by a jetpack-wielding, elegantly-mustachioed elderly Panama Jack clone in a cravat. God I love this fucking book.

Clearly, James Asmus is allowing himself a more leisurely dip into farce this time, and even though his dialogue gets ridiculous, referencing as it does Billy Bob Thornton’s sexual magnetism, scandalous (yet presumably tasteful) pictures of Kevin Sorbo and, of course, Bell’s Palsy, he somehow again manages to legitimately wrap everything up in a slightly looser-than-usual, yet not less satisfyingly-tied bow of a story.

Added to this is Asmus’ competent grasp of gravitas, which he still uses sparingly, but just enough to inject some much-needed weight into the book. I’m serious, guys, this dude needs to be on more books. Like… now. Write your congressman or something.

In terms of its visual direction, cover callout art credit this issue goes to Wilfredo Torres, with an intro page nod to Erica Henderson, neither of whom I am intimately familiar with, which I don’t mean to sound as sexual as it does, but will leave in anyway so as to elicit unwanted hearsay and conjecture.

There’s a very relaxed Allred meets Aja meets Lieber feel about this art, and for the most part I dig it. Torres and Henderson approach the story visually with the same jocular abandon with which Asmus does his narrative, though perhaps just shy of the same emotional range.

QW_011_COVER_B_TORRES copy 2The tête-à-tête between Woody and Sixty-Nine, for example, was arguably the most character-building moment for the pair that we have seen throughout this run thus far, but that depth didn’t come through in the art as much as it possibly could have. Another weird thing I’ve noticed - and to be fair, this has been something building throughout the series - is the artistic treatment of the boys’ powers.

Now, I fully admit, and have previously applauded that superpowers are almost secondary in Quantum and Woody, and while I do like Eric’s more “material” shield this go-round, they seem to be oddly ethereal and ill-defined. I guess they lack a sort of impact or punch, exemplified this time in Woody’s mid-kidnapping, wayward hand-blast misfire (which is little more than a wisp of yellow smoke) and Vincent van Goat’s suddenly weak-seeming “zzzat-vision” blast. It’s a strange thing to harp on about, I know, and I’m probably doing a piss-poor job of explaining myself, but it bugged me.

Still, Torres and Henderson do an admirable job of following up the brilliance that was Kano’s run on the series, and like I said, I really did enjoy the vast majority of how this issue looked. It must also be commended that Asmus and Valiant have allowed such a great artistic array in Quantum and Woody; as frantic as it often is, that heady divergence within this book has been just as exploratory as the story itself.

I know I sound like a broken record - or maybe a malfunctioning VHS player - but Quantum and Woody #11 continues to ensure that this is the odd-ballingest superhero book out there, and unlike the evil doppelgänger of a character played by the acting heavyweight mentioned above, after its reading, you will feel anything but ... DISAPPOINTED!

Score: 4/5

Writer: James Asmus Artist: Wilfredo Torres and Erica Henderson Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: 3.99 Release Date: 6/4/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital