Review: Quantum and Woody #3 by James Asmus and Tom Fowler

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Quantum and Woody #3

Written by James Asmus

Art by Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire

 

The short of it:

Now where were we….oh yeah, The Nightmare Brigade! Or, as Woody would call it, “Creepy-Ass Clown Monsters”…and we’re already off to a great start. The Johnny’s explain that these creatures they’ve created were done so with the intent of bringing out the greatest fears in man….save for heights and public speaking. But hey, Spiders, Clowns, and Needles. I’d be plenty freaked out too. I mean, this clown’s head just opened up to reveal a giant gaping maw of NEEDLES! It’s a tad bit out of control, attacking everyone, but Woody isn’t really in control either and makes things go boom…and then his non-existent secret identity gets blown by one of the Johnny’s. Really, the Johnny’s are in control and Quantum wants to know…does Woody trust him? The answer is no even before Quantum throws them both out of a window.

We’re treated to a flashback of their dad taking Woody on a fishing trip and how upset Eric was that his delinquent foster brother is getting to do fun stuff while he’s stuck doing school work, but then we’re back to the fall and Quantum making an energy bubble to try and save them. He has no idea how he’s doing it, or that he could do it. Votes of confidence! Quantum’s over the top superhero suit has no padding and he feels it. The two start to get up, people are confused, children want to know if they’re superheroes, and they’re all like “Yes we are” and “Option us for a movie!” and then the cops show up so they run like hell. Yep, superheroes. Anyway, running from the cops, and this time Eric needs to trust Woody. The cops ask a homeless guy where they are, he says he’ll tell them for a hundred dollars, they flick him off, and sure enough….he’s the one protecting them. The cost? Eric’s nineties accessories. The Johnny’s make their excuse, blowing up all evidence of what happened and taking a note that Eric and Woody are looking for vengeance and have the Quantum Bands that they seek.

Across town Eric and Woody are going to one of Woody’s safe houses, and Eric really has no faith in the character of his brother. This is all validated repeatedly over the next several pages as first the apartment they’re at belongs to a girl Woody used to sleep with until he quit answering her calls, to explaining to Eric that he ‘sounds black’ and doing a pretty good job at not being racist about it…despite Eric’s claims, all the way until he admits impersonating Eric. To get that cache of weapons last issue from Eric’s work. Which meant going in and pretending to be his brother…in blackface. Of course, Woody doesn’t see it like that, he was just wearing a disguise and not trying to be offensive, so, of course, Eric tells him that their dad regretted him, and that Woody was only kept around out of guilt. The ensuing fight destroys the apartment, which Eric places on Woody’s shoulders. In another flashback, years ago, Eric blew up a science lab trying to be more like Woody.

Meanwhile you’ve got the cops trying to figure out what happened. The homeless guy is being questioned for the cape and pouches, the guy who sold Woody fake IDs is turning over evidence for immunity, and the cops finally have a lead. At the same time Eric is out playing superhero, going it alone because, well, Woody is only going to make things worse. Woody who is in a hotel trying to figure out where to go for a massage when a girl shows up, and the next thing he knows that cop has him taken down and isn’t really a cop afterall. She works for The Crone. The Crone and the Quorum or Edison’s Radical Acquisitions, a secret society created to control the advancement of man and technology, and who punish those who would introduce new ideas that they don’t deem ready for the world. They killed Derek Henderson, and now they have Woody.

But here comes Quantum! Who somehow manages to not see the entire army on the island! Whoops!

 

What I liked:

  • It took Woody probably about five to ten minutes to get his identity blown from when they showed up last issue until it happened here, and that’s EXACTLY how it should be! He’s not Eric, his superhero name is Woody, there should be no question at all from someone aware of them as to who he is.

  • The flashbacks with their dad are great. Flashbacks have always been a thing with Quantum and Woody, but it’s ridiculously refreshing that they’re about the relationship that they shared with their father as opposed to how awful Woody’s life was on the streets.

  • The first issue I made fun of some of Tom Fowler’s facial work resembling the Elephant Man, but now I just have to make it clear that he does some of the best expressive faces I’ve seen in comics in ages. The book isn’t cartoony and it works because Fowler is able to get the full range of emotion out of our characters faces and body languages, and it’s brilliant. Eric’s angry face is PRICELESS!

  • “No. But thank you, Magical Black Man.”

  • The E.R.A. is fantastic. A secret society that controls super science? Punishing kids who made a wormhole with a cell phone charger and a vibrator? I actually really get the purpose behind the group, and I love that they tied it back to Edison. One of the greatest inventors ever? Sure, but also one of the biggest dicks of his era. The kind of guy who totally would create a secret society to prevent other people from having scientific breakthroughs that he couldn’t profit off of.

  • For as competent as Eric is in high stress situations, he’s an idiot, and I love him for it. Dude has Batman training in how to do just about anything badass he might ever need to do, but he’s so arrogant that he doesn’t realize that the stick up his ass is more detrimental to him than anything Woody could ever do. Honestly, it’s what makes him the most fleshed out character in this book so far. Woody might be the funny, but Eric is the ridiculously flawed human being that you root for…even if not just because you really don’t want to see him screw up again.

 

What I didn’t like:

  • I know that, back in the day, Valiant was more of a ‘real world’ than Marvel or DC, with everything explainable without having to reach too far. I don’t know if they still stand by that, but in this book everyone is REALLY cool with the idea of people in costumes fighting people and shit getting blown up at random. The random people in the streets are about as concerned with the crazy randomness as random people in the Marvel universe would be.

 

Final thoughts:

So I’ve been doing comic reviews for a few years now, and this is the first time I’ve ever been quoted on the cover of anything, for anything. Words really can’t express how awesome that feels for me, like, this feels as awesome as that time when I was a kid and wrote a letter into Cable and got it printed in the letters column. The only difference is that, while I liked Cable, I LOVE Quantum and Woody. The only comparable level of awesome would be if I somehow got quoted on one of BQM’s Batgirl trades, because that’s the last book I loved and wanted to gush about as much as this one.

This book takes the five hundred pound elephant in the room that is race and political correctness and simply ignores it. You may be offended, you may not be offended, but the bottom line is that there are no punches being pulled. James Asmus is trying to be real with his writing as opposed to trying to make everyone happy by not offending anyone. This issue has everything from “You sound black” to “YOU WORE BLACKFACE?!”, and it just kept me rolling the entire time.

Man, The Nightmare Brigade was some straight up Silent Hill shit.

There’s some underlying commentary in the nineties gear being something a bum wants. And some not so underlying commentary in the fact that the twenty bucks they’re going to give him is in one of the many, many pouches. Less so than that? The fact that he wears them to ride a shopping cart down a hill while quoting Titanic.

So I think we can safely assume that their attempts at solving the murder of their father won‘t wind up with a guy getting the combined powers of both Quantum and Woody and providing a moral gray area in terms of a ridiculously powered super scientist this time around? Good.

There have been quite a few little off handed hints and references to the first volume, and I love them as Easter Eggs, but with Woody making a crack about how at least they didn’t switch bodies I got depressed. I was really hoping to see that arc reinvented!

This book is proof that you don’t have to be working for the big two to tell excellent superhero stories. I mean, yes, these guys are hardly superheroes, but there are powers, there are secret evil societies, and promises to only bring on more. It’s also infinitely more entertaining than the majority of what Marvel and DC are putting out.

Seriously, James Asmus was a guy I wrote off as someone that was good for a short story in an X-Men Anthology and not much else, and now he’s writing my favorite book on the market. Does Marvel have any idea the level of talent that they were wasting by not giving him real work.

For as many books as I read every month, there has been nothing that I’ve look forward to more over the past few months than Quantum and Woody. From the day they announced the duos return I’ve been stoked. From the day I read the first issue I’ve known that we were in store for something special, and after three issues I know for certain that we really do. This week featured Forever Evil, Battle of the Atom, Infinity, and a bunch of 3D covers. You know what I was most excited for? Quantum and Woody. You know what the best book of the week was? Quantum and Woody.

If you’re a big two kind of buyer, someone who rarely ventures out from the safe confines of the properties that we all know…then you’re a lot like I used to be. There’s nothing wrong with it, those books are all popular and long lasting for a reason, but there’s more to the industry than Marvel and DC. Every fan of the genre should be reading this book, and it’s a fantastic stepping stone into the world of what good comics can and should be. A world with no editorial mandates and creative shuffles, where the estimated sales aren’t dooming a book to cancellation before the first issue even hits shelves. Quantum and Woody is a great comic, written by a great writer, and published by a company that is more concerned with quality than bolstering their sales numbers.

Thank you, Valiant.

NOW BRING ON THE GOAT!

 

Overall: 10/10

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