Let’s be honest: these days, there are fair few books that consistently entertain for 10 full issues (and one zero issue) quite like Quantum and Woody has. Even throughout its various artistic dalliances - some phenomenal, some less so - this has proven to be, for me, Valiant’s most continually excellent book. As I’ve said in previous reviews, in its hilarity and in its sparing but deftly-employed emotional impact, Quantum and Woody is a different kind of superhero title, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is at the same time genuinely entertaining every single issue. And in its tenth outing, it continues to experiment brilliantly and satisfy deliciously.
This time, our titular twosome are at odds ... well, more than usual ... as Eric (Quantum) takes up a security post at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, while Woody - ever the irritating iconoclast - joins a group of bandits to pillage it of its collection of voodoo artifacts for a mysterious benefactor. Hijinks, as is their wont in this ongoing, ensue, and they do so here in an amazing flurry of action and effortless exposition.
Asmus packs the panels here with story, but it never feels too dense or unwieldy, but rather progressive and fun. Alongside the funny, there are, as usual, some fantastic character moments in this book, particularly exemplified beautifully in a brief 15-panel page that sees Eric and “Sixty-Nine” sharing a frank and emotional heart-to-heart of sorts, but also in a great throwback story about Woody’s deflowering ... on a couple different levels. And it’s excellent, both in its unflinching joy and its narrative resonance.
Similarly, the art from Kano is fucking magnificent, and, mirroring the output of Tom Fowler at the series’ beginning, is both exploratory in the frenetic way it vacillates between the layout of page furniture and incorporates some fun infographic madness, while not sacrificing its structural integrity for unnecessary “weird for the sake of being weird”-ness.
These pages are full without being laborious, chalked to the brim with neon-pop color and style in a way that puts something like Hawkeye to shame. In fact, show me one book out there right now that skirts the line that Quantum and Woody does in its approach to humor and storytelling. The fact is, you can’t, especially as its final moments cement an insanely intriguing continuation of story and evolution of character.
Quantum and Woody #10, perhaps more even than any preceding issue, is calculated yet cavalier, clever without being condescending or kitsch, and quite simply one of the most unpretentious, unrelenting joys in comic books today.
Writer: James Asmus Artist: Kano Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/14/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital