Open Mike Night: Quantum and Woody (2013) #1 & Share Your Universe: Avengers

Quantum and Woody #1

Written by: James Asmus
Art by: Tom Fowler
Colored by: Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by: Dave Lanphear
Published by: Valiant

Weaver: So, Quantum and Woody. That was certainly something.

Maillaro: I am pretty sure I texted you when I was reading the original Quantum and Woody series, to say I had no idea whether I loved or hated that series. It went from annoying me to making me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe back to annoying me often several times in the same issue. It would often shatter the fourth wall in the most ridiculous ways, and I still don’t know what was up with the teleporting goat. But the book was just so goddamn charming I kept coming back issue after issue.

While the new series is a little less all over the map than the original, it still maintains a lot of the humor and charm of the original. I still felt that same love/hate mix, but it was definitely much more leaning towards love this time.

Weaver: I had some issues with it, but they were more than made up for by the charm, as you put it. It’s kind of the classic buddy cop pairing of reckless renegade and by the numbers veteran, with the added wrinkle that they’re brothers. And that the reckless renegade is much more reckless than in most buddy cop movies.

I like the chemistry among the cast. It feels pretty natural to me. Everyone who exists long enough to have a name has a distinct voice and a role in the universe, and that’s really saying something.

Maillaro: What I love about Quantum and Woody is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of limits. In this issue, when the boys reunite at their father’s funeral, they end up in a brawl knocking over someone else’s coffin.

In a lot of ways, I was reminded of Kevin Smith’s View Askew movies. Often absurd, sometimes tasteless, but there is always a lot of heart at the core.

I also liked that it is clear from the beginning that the main characters are flawed. Erik has a huge hero complex, and is wound so tight that he attacks a basically innocent guy who was pretending to rob his own girlfriend. Woody is basically a common criminal, stealing credit cards and breaking and entering. I thought it was a pretty tough moment when a cop approaches him, and Woody is about to start his “I didn’t do anything” spiel when the cop reveals he is only there to tell him that his father died.

Weaver: View Askew is a good comparison. You know what really caught me by surprise in this issue? I had to look back at this when it happened, it was so good and unexpected. When stuff goes down, Erik says exactly what his father said right before his death.

Flawed main characters are my preference in a comic, but right now, I’m not sure, but Woody might be too flawed. I’m willing to give him another chance, but the credit card fraud and serial lying are pretty serious business. I did like the scene of them as kids, and their interaction then, though…really set it all up for how they relate as adults beginning to cope with each other again.

Maillaro: In the original, Woody wasn’t Erik’s foster brother (their fathers worked together as scientists). His mom was a drug addict and prostitute, and Woody went through a lot of horrible things, which sort of explained why he was so loose with the law and authority, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Even then, I often found Woody close to intolerable at times. That said, I did find it hilarious when he couldn’t even chloroform someone right.

And Erik’s attempt at being self-sacrificing…and then getting pissed off when Woody was so eager to save his own skin was a pretty awesome moment.

One thing that really annoyed me was that the characters seemed to overemote at times. Like I was watching a real bad play. The scene with Erik’s dad in the flashback in particular made me laugh at things that were supposed to be serious. I love comic art where you can feel the characters’ emotions, but at time this issue went a little too far.

Weaver: Could he not even chloroform someone right? It seemed to me that he wanted to get caught in that case. We see earlier on that he’s pretty smooth with his scams.

The biggest problem with overemoting that I had was the scene outside the diner with Erik walking out. For a while, I wondered if he had pooped himself or was having a heart attack. It was a pretty serious case of overgloom, I thought.

The scene with them choosing who gets the suit was great because they acted like siblings. I mean, I could imagine me and either of my brothers having that exact same fight. No word on which I’d be.

Maillaro: All in all, I am pretty sure I really liked this book. I know that is not the most ringing endorsement ever given, but that is basically all I can honestly say about Quantum and Woody. It is definitely different, and that is a good thing. But I do think at times the ridiculousness can weigh down the book. I am also curious if this book will be dealing with heavier issues. The original series dealt a lot with race, poverty, and things like that.

Weaver: I’m in the same boat. I’m not sure what to think of this, but I think I liked it. It did deal with a few issues like race, Erik’s father giving him the standard speech about being better, and Woody getting in a fight about it in high school, then later saying “Ironically, I’m the black sheep.”

I’d give it a 3 on writing, popping it just over the halfway point.

Maillaro: Yeah, the race issue was there, but it was really deep in the original. It was written by Christopher Priest, who did a great job with it, especially when it talked about how Erik was a rich black kid from Greenwich who couldn’t really connect with poor blacks from the ghetto. Granted, this is just the first issue, so they just might not have wanted to try and squeeze it all in just the first issue.

I am going to go a little higher 4/5. I liked it a lot more than I hated it. Art I would go closer to 3/5. It was fine for the most part, but the over acting annoyed me.

Weaver: Oh, written by Priest…that makes it all make sense. He is fantastic at handling race. Anyway, the art didn’t bother me as much, so I’m going to reverse scores and give it a 4. There were some set pieces I really liked, especially the cold open.

Share Your Universe: Avengers

Main Story – Adaptation

Written by: Christopher Yost
Art by: Scott Wegener
Colored by: Jean-Francois Bealieu
Lettered by: Dave Sharpe

Back Up Story – Trust

Written by: Christopher Yost
Art by: Patrick Scherberger
Colored by: Jean-Francois Bealieu
Lettered by: Dave Sharpe

Maillaro: Last week, Marvel did an overhyped press conference (they had first announced it a MONTH BEFORE) where they announced the Share Your Universe program. On a whole, it was a lot of hot air, which basically amounted to comic readers and comic shops need to do a better job getting comics in the hands of younger readers. I thought the whole idea was great, even if the execution was a little hokey. Hearing guys in their forties talk about how they first got into comics showed a HUGE disconnect between them and kids these days.

BUT, one of the things I loved is that they made a bunch of digital comics available for free that are all ages friendly. week, we’re going to take a look at Share Your Universe Avengers, which can be found here. This book featured two stories set in the same universe as the cartoon Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (which has been cancelled in favor of the far inferior Avengers Assemble).

Weaver: So, basically, what it comes down to is: Marketing is hard, crowdsourcing is the future. And I do not in any way, shape, or form disagree with that statement. Word of mouth is huge in the day and age of the internet, when we can just click share on something and spam all our friends. Zynga was really successful by dint of doing that (until they weren’t, but that’s another story), and plenty of other products have used this to great benefit. Heck, love him or hate him and I definitely fall in the latter category, but Justin Beiber became what he is from posting youtube videos originally intended for his close friends and family members. So this seems like a great idea, finding new ways to use social media to benefit you.

And are you saying you don’t want to hear the story of how I used to race down to Inkley’s Pharmacy in Randolph, New York to get my new comics from a spinner rack placed strategically right inside the door of a business my grandmother used to send me into weekly to get a newspaper? And how the dollar she gave me was enough for the newspaper, a candy bar, and a comic book? LOL.

Seriously, though, I like the new focus on all ages comics too, and I love Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, so I thought this would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately…I don’t think this delivered what it needed to. The art on the first story was very scratchy, nothing even similar to the cartoon’s style, and I think the Super Adaptoid was not the best choice for villain in a comic you want to sell people on “comics are cool” with.

On the other hand, the second story delivered on all cylinders, but by dint of going second, some people may have tuned out by now. I almost did.

Maillaro: Oh admit it, you didn’t like this issue because Wasp and Pym are barely in it at all…

Apparently, Marvel posted two comics on Comixology under the title of Share Your Universe: Avengers. I was about to say you were crazy about the art being bad on this issue…because on the other SYU: Avengers (featuring Mandarin) actually looked almost exactly like the comics. But when I saw you mentioned the Adaptoid, I realized I was clearly reading the wrong comic.

I actually enjoyed the story here. Seeing Cap struggling to fit in the modern world was cool, especially when he was fighting the Fixer and Batroc the Leaper!

And the Adaptoid is a real simple villain for kids to grap on to. It’s a robot with all the powers of the Avengers. No heavy back story needed, just jump right in and watch the good guys beat on a robot! I always like seeing robots get beat up!

While I did enjoy the story, I definitely was surprised by how weak the art was. The style was inconsistent from panel to panel, and often the characters just looked a little weird. I thought the art for the backup was even more of a departure from the animated series. It definitely was better than the main story, but I also don’t think it was going to do much to appeal to the target audience. I was reminded a little of Bill Sienkiewicz’s dark and line-heavy art.

Weaver: Oh. That’s…interesting. I wonder why they did two of them.

Yes, the second story was a deviation from the cartoon, but at least it was a GOOD deviation. The first story was really shoddily done artwise.

I liked most of the premises of the first story, and I liked Cap’s decision at the end to try to fit in more. I liked that he saw his perceptions of reality as being somewhat dangerous when he doesn’t properly respect the Fixer’s weaponry. You know, thinking about it now, they shoved a lot of story into a pretty simple presentation. Good Cap development, two different villain attacks, and, well, Thor. Maybe I just don’t like the Adaptoid. I’m more of an Awesome Android man, myself.

Maillaro: The Mad Thinker and the Awesome Android are just great classic characters. I don’t even think I know who the Adaptoid is, to be honest. Sort of just seems like a rip off of Amazo. Apparently, the Super-Adaptoid has shown up recently. It ended up infected by the Phalanx (under command of Ultron) during Annihilation: Conquest. Yeah, see this is why I liked this comic. NICE, SIMPLE, NO COMPLICATIONS! Hopefully, Share Your Universe continues these easily accessibly kinds of stories.

So, you have two young sons, both of whom enjoy EMH. Any chance you had one of them check this out?

Weaver: Well, you see, it…sort of is a rip off of Amazo. Showed up a few times in early Avengers in non-complicating ways.

Sadly, neither of them got a chance to look at it yet. It’s been a pretty busy few days. I’ll have Robert take a look and get back to you.

Maillaro: Since we are not quite the intended audience, I figure getting a more mature perspective just makes sense.

Weaver: So Robert’s main opinion was that he hated the art on the Cap and Thor story, but he thought the story was okay. He likes that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes tends to build stories on each other, and he liked there being some elements of this, and thought it must have been pretty soon after the Breakout. He liked the second story a lot more, but he likes those characters a lot more too, so I’m not sure if it was the story itself or the people in it.

Maillaro: So, amusingly enough, the Super-Adaptoid will be featured in the next episode of Avengers Assemble. After EMH, that show is dreadfully average. I don’t hate it, it’s just generic at times and seems to be missing a lot of the love that went in to making EMH. Now I know how all those people I laugh at for still bemoaning Spectacular Spider-Man must feel.

Weaver: I think the problem is that people don’t really want overarching plots and character development in their cartoons. I can respect that to a degree, but EMH was so fantastic…I mean, it even handled Pym and Wasp well, something I’ve never seen done outside of a comic book.

Maillaro: They have been mishandled many times in comics for that matter…

All right, so scores. I would go 3/5 for the writing, 2.5 for the art for the main story. 3.5 for both for the back up.

Weaver: I think those are fair scores, although I’d dip to 2/5 on the main story art.

Yeah, they’ve been mishandled a lot in the comics…you know, one of the things that made me hate Ultimates so much was how everything was ramped up for shock value so Pym became just an absolute monster. Which wouldn’t have bothered me as much if Ultimates wasn’t billed as introducing new readers to modern versions of the characters we all know and love. Actually, my other childhood favorite character got shellacked by that too, Hulk.

Maillaro: I blame Mark Millar. Most of the Ultimate books he wrote skewed in that direction. Bendis hasn’t had anywhere near this problem with Ultimate Spider-Man. Most of his characters, heroes and villains, were pretty logical updates of the originals that kept the core of the characters and worked very well.

Kind of funny that you mention Ultimate…one of the books I was going to suggest for next week is Hunger, which is the story of 616 Galactus having been tossed into the Ultimate reality after Age of Ultron.

Weaver: Yes, I recall having a similar issue with Ultimate X-Men, especially when Rogue first shows up talking about how she wanted to avoid the punishment of having her arms ripped off and being beaten with them again. That caused me to totally lose all interest in that title in one magic moment. I was like, “Really? This is what you think is a logical update?”

Against my better judgment, I’ll sign off on Hunger. Want to do an early FF Galactus story too? Something totally crazypants?

Maillaro: FF 48-50 or do you have something else in mind?

Weaver: I don’t think it gets more crazypants than that. Are you for it?

Maillaro: Sure!

Final Scores

Maillaro – Story Weaver – Story Maillaro – Art Weaver – Art
Quantum and Woody #1 4 3 3 4
Share Your Universe: Avengers – Adaptation 3 3 3 2
Share Your Universe: Avengers – Trust 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

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