Clones. Unravelling old people. Malfunctioning 1980s cyborg projectors. Farmyard animals of ill-intent. And of course, foul-mouthed explosions: Valiant’s breakaway hit, Quantum and Woody, proves in its fourth issue why it is by-far one of the most purely entertaining reads in comic books today. This being the definitive end to its first arc, issue four sends this series’ inauguration out with a KLANG, as we get a further glimpse into the lives of the titular bickering bros, a slightly deeper look into their powers, the kind of big ol’ super-villain secret base battle you can set your watch to and a new beginning with some very strangely-paired players. As a blow-out, this one scratches just about every itch you’d want in an odd-couple buddy-cop superhero book, and it does so with gusto!
What remains great about this series is that it is not alone some quirky little comedy book. James Asmus has done a klang-up job of setting his whimsically sardonic characters within a framework of pathos, and not a small amount of gravity in their personal histories with each other, as well as the past of what I like to call the “Island of Misfit Ploys” in Edison’s Radical Acquisitions (E.R.A.): the collected evil genius bad guys of the book. Think of them a bit like The Manhattan Projects: sillier, perhaps decidedly less menacing, but fun as hell.
Despite his continued ability to make the dialogue in Quantum and Woody effortlessly quippy and fun, Asmus’ more heartwarming elements this issue felt a bit muted and somewhat more forcibly finagled into the story; then again, I generally dislike it when people wax emotional during a fight scene. Still, I don’t think it marred the experience, especially given the amount of balls-to-the-wall action this time around, which featured (albeit mostly off-panel), the introduction of one of this book’s most highly-anticipated new characters.
That’s right, friends, we finally get Quantum and Woody’s Goat this issue in a few panels that, intentionally or otherwise, lovingly echo the infamous “rabbit” scene from Monthy Python and the Holy Grail, which to be fair, was not what I was expecting - but happily so! Also, the pejorative exclamation made by the bubble-headed baddie upon seeing the escape of said goat is one that I plan on incorporating into my own daily lexicon.
Saying that, I do wonder if this book would be a better read if all of the fake cursing (i.e., @#$%&*) would be spelled-out more “explicitly.” When there’s so much of it in a book like this, I almost think it would be better to just write out the damn curse words; but then again, it works well in establishing the kind of fun, PG-13, sophomoric feel to the story - something also exemplified by the art.
I’m really not looking forward to Tom Fowler leaving this book, especially to be replaced by Ming Doyle, whose character work I find wooden - not something you want in a fun-as-hell, always moving story like Quantum and Woody. Fowler has this great presence with these characters, not least of which is the visual comedic timing in his kinetic, cartoony style that works so well within the book’s ethos. He can also draw the shit out of a goat ... which is a pretty gross turn of phrase out of context.
In this, his last issue, Fowler proves why I’ll miss him with fantastic action flourishes, colored brightly and lightly by the ever-impressive Jordie Bellaire. Whether it’s Woody blasting clones to bits with energy blasts or Quantum methodically taking down a bearded transexual, Fowler and Bellaire prove to be an exceptional art team for this series, one that I think might be replaced by an ill-fit.
Regardless of that, though, this was the perfect cap on the first Quantum and Woody arc, and as a whole, this has definitely become my favorite Valiant book since its relaunch. Although I’m pretty damn hesitant about its new artistic direction, I will definitely be back for more Q&W next month.
Writer: James Asmus Artist: Tom Fowler Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/2/13