Quantum and Woody! #1
Written by James Asmus
Art by Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire
The short of it:
Not long from now two bumbling super powered characters fall from a forty-second floor window at Quantum Solutions as people run in fear. The news questions their abilities, credentials, whether or not they are heroes, and even openly wonders if they’re just overgrown children in costumes. In other words, Quantum and Woody aren’t preparing to be beloved by the world around them.
Years ago, back in middle school, maybe early high school, Eric and Woody were in trouble for fighting at school. They have a pair of black eyes, but it’s all because some kid said something horrible and racist to Eric, he tried to fight, and Woody came in to back him up. It’s what brothers are for, but unfortunately their dad isn’t pleased. Fast forward to now and he’s trying to upload some files to a flashdrive, says goodbye to a picture of them, and is then promptly killed by a man with hammer and sickle scarred into his face as he tries to flee.
Eric begins the next day bright and early with a workout and, what I’m assuming, are Spanish lessons before heading to a diner for breakfast. He sees a guy make like he’s going to rob the store after threatening a waitress, and Eric just knocks him right out…too bad he’s the waitresses boyfriend and he was joking. He’s pretty high strung, able to belt out broken civil codes and the like, total stick in his ass. Phone rings as he’s going to get in the car, but hey, you know what? It’s Woody time! While their dad, and possibly Eric, were in DC, Woody is in NYC and shacked up with a girl who is as hot as she is dumb in a hotel room. She wants to go shopping, but he’s curious what time it is. The door starts knocking and he promptly goes out the window as management comes to say that the credit card was declined due to fraud.
He’s off to the park to pick pocket poor schlubs and talk to his bookie…not very good at gambling. Anyway, cops show up, tell him about his dad, which means he heads for the funeral in DC…which is already in progress. Eric didn’t bother to tell his brother that their dad was dead. They haven’t talked in years, and Eric opts to belittle Woody’s importance, and you know what? Brothers can fist fight too. They can also disrupt other funerals by fighting down a hill and right into a casket. There’s a temporary arrest, but really, the cops are more interested in interrogating the two in their fathers death. See if they stood to gain anything.
Both find an interest in their dad’s lab, and Woody goes through the front door. Gets let in, tries to knock out a guard, uses the rag without chloroform, needs Eric and a taser to save his ass. The two investigate, find the data drive, but an arguement leaves them trapped in a room with a fancy reactor that activates around them and there’s only ONE protective suit! So, of course, they fight over it as things go boom.
And now? Now the cops want to arrest the very naked, and not totally there, Eric and Woody.
What I liked:
Eric and Woody as brothers via adoption works for me. It simplifies the relationship without really taking anything away from either of them…I mean, it takes away Woody living on the streets with addicts and underage prostitutes, but that actually doesn’t bug me.
Asmus successfully brings the funny, which was one of my biggest fears with this book. The original was smart and witty without ever losing itself, and James is displaying the potential of doing the same.
Eric and Woody and the protective suit was a stroke of brilliance. I mean, Eric trying to be all stoic and self sacrificing, and then his reaction to Woody happily putting on the suit without a care that Eric would die. So awesome.
Woody is the star of this book after one issue, which means that some things never change. From his one night stand with a fraudulent credit card, to his attempted break in of his dad’s lab, Woody makes this issue.
- Eric’s ridiculously uptight nature is perfect captured in minimal amount of time
What I didn’t like:
I need to be very, very clear in this. It’s not that I don’t like the art, but it isn’t Doc Bright’s style and I’m spoiled by it. The original run had that comicy-cartoony-still pretty real look to everything. The art here pretty much sticks to the real look, getting rid of the cartoony elements that helped make the original run look as light hearted as it read. It’s really impossible to not go right back to the originals for my source of comparisons.
Also, Kid Woody looks like the Elephant Man on more than one occasion.
Eric doesn’t look that great either. Faces are not the strong point of Tom Fowler.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of having a guy declare them ‘The World’s Worst Superhero Team’ in the news segment that opened the issue. I liked the title as a quiet ‘the fans know it, the characters know it, but nobody has to say it’. I get that it was going for a joke, but it was one of the few that fell flat.
Nothing says time appropriate bad guys like a guy with a giant “I’M A COMMUNIST” scar on his face.
Had it not been for my recent grinding and loving of the original, I honestly don’t think I would have found much of any problem with this book. My gripes with the art aside, had I not been spoiled by Doc Bright I’d have only commented on the faces a bit and left it at that.
The original origin for Quantum and Woody were that they were childhood best friends whose dads worked together, but Woody’s parents got a divorce and he went with his mom who quickly devolved into a whoring drug addict and left him essentially abandoned to the live on the streets before he even started high school. Eric never understood why his friend left him and never fully forgave him, and Woody was so busy trying to survive in a version of New York I’d only seen in movies that he couldn’t care. Eventually their dads died in an ‘accident’ and the two were forced to reconnect long enough to find something worth investigating, which forced them to be together forever with their bands.
That said, I REALLY like the removal of Woody’s past if you’re going with a reboot. I mean, obviously it doesn’t all have to be gone, he still dropped out of high school and had time to be a screw up on the streets, but now we don’t have the angst of a young teen Woody trying to save his young teen hooker friend from pimps and abusive customers. Having him adopted by Eric’s dad makes their relationship, as estranged as it is, into something much easier to wrap my brain around.
If you never read Quantum and Woody before then this is a fantastic introduction, and if you’re a fan from way back at the first volume then you’re still in luck because James Asmus does a wonderful job retooling these characters for a slightly more modern audience while staying true to the characters Priest and Bright created.
I’ve been hit or miss on Valiant thus far, enjoying Harbinger but never really picking up anything else, but I officially have a new favorite title.
It’s a perfect blend of comedy, drama, inept superheroes, and two brothers that hate each other but you just know are going to be best friends in the end.
Really, this book is only missing one key detail.
BRING ON THE GOAT!
Tags: Christopher Priest, James Asmus, Quantum and Woody, Reviews, Tom Fowler, Valiant