Within the ever-widening gyre of “humorous” superhero comic books, Quantum and Woody is the one series that actually seems to float effortlessly at the top. For having not heard his name much before (other than furtive brushes against Thief of Thieves and The End Times of Bram & Ben, in which he served as co-writer), James Asmus has very quickly risen to the upper crust of my current favorite writers, and this series’ eighth outing is a perfect example of why. This issue of what I hold to be Valiant’s best book of the moment sees its titular tit and his brother Quantum finally rallying their white supremacist militia against the tank-toting government sub-contractors that would use them to start a civil war. Yeah, that happens, and guess what? It’s fucking hilarious. Asmus once again proves that he is fluent in the funny here; not by being forceful or hammering quips awkwardly into dialogue, but by making it feel light, organic and most of all fun.
Now, that’s saying a whole hell of a lot for a book that tackles “controversial” topics like homosexuality in the military, race wars, the ridiculousness of domestic politics and even teen pregnancy. Basically, if your buzzword has a cheeky nook and/or gaping cranny, chances are, Asmus is going to use Quantum and Woody to satirically spelunk the shit out of it ... and it will be glorious.
Speaking of those hard-to-reach places, even at its most serious and subsidiary, this issue is a great read. Asmus is clearly having a hell of a time building this world from seemingly every direction, whether it’s via the one-page flashback of Quantum’s time in the service (which suitably wraps up the personal backstory of this arc), or even in something so simple as the book’s lettering.
As I’ve mentioned before, Asmus regularly makes even what elsewhere could be misconstrued as the gristle of comic books both flavorful and fun. For example, with significant assistance from letterer Dave Lanphear, he bandies about a liberal helping of sound effects in the book, and you’d be remiss if you missed the more choice samples.
I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who have yet to read it, so let me just throw down this [LETTERING SPOILER WARNING]. Whether he seasons his scenes with a disastrous FAAT-DOOM, an explosive BA-DAAASS or a sizzling FSSHHZZZZLE, it adds a little something extra to the enjoyment of Quantum and Woody’s punch, and exemplifies the easy and entertaining tone that has permeated the book for the first two arcs.
Along the same lines, and this is another moderate [SPOILER], I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone so accurately depict the sound a fax machine makes via lettering. That alone is a solid achievement for this issue, and what it bodes gets me all nippularly titillated, since I was sad to see the character it teases go in the first place. Needless to say (though I will anyway), there are great things afoot in this book, and not just because next issue will give us a Vincent Van Goat backstory!
Okay, so normally this is the portion of the review that I’d spend discussing the art of the book. But I’m not going to do that here. I’ve already written at great length how I feel about Doyle’s work in this book, as well as in my coverage of her collaboration with Brian Wood in last year’s inexcusably overrated miniseries Mara, and I don’t think there’s much else to say.
The general gist is that her style is not for me, and it serves as the only detriment to an otherwise flawless arc. In fact, it’s the only reason I didn’t give Quantum and Woody #8 a five out of five. I do still wonder about those readers who champion her stuff, and have yet to come across anyone who can substantiate the opinion adequately.
The only other thing I will mention is that I’m happy to see a shift in the visual direction with the announcement a while back that the enigmatic Kano will be taking over artistic duties. I think his visceral cartoony style will lend itself much more satisfyingly to the overall aesthetic of Quantum and Woody, and I can’t wait to see how he and Asmus work together.
If you’re not reading Quantum and Woody, well, crap on a Catholic, I don’t know what to tell you ... other than you’re being a real bag of cats’ asses! Apart from the substandard art this arc, which again is thankfully over, this very well may be the best thing going in superhero comics right now. True story.
Writer: James Asmus Artist: Ming Doyle Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Dave Lanphear Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: 3.99 Release Date: 2/19/14