QUANTUM AND WOODY, VOL. 4/ISSUES #1-4
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Illustrator: Ryan Browne
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
WHAT IS IT?
A revival of the long-running superhero comic featuring the most dysfunctional dynamic duo in history.
The book combines the super-powered comedy of Deadpool or Nextwave: Agents of HATE with the high-energy antics you might find in TV shows like Brooklyn 99.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Deeply dysfunctional adoptive brothers Eric and Woody, bound together by their past and the accident that gave them powers, seek to save the day — and get their names off of a few warrants — in a world infested with mad scientists.
This is complicated slightly by the fact that if they don't 'KLANG' their pair of power bands together, once every 24 hours, they cease to exist.
On the run from just about everyone, the two are hiding in Washington, D.C. when Woody claims a mysterious new ability: he can see the future. Spouting off some rather awkward prophecy, he manages to overcome his brother’s initial skepticism in order to set them on the path to a new mentor, new enemies, and incredible danger.
Can Quantum and Woody finally become true heroes, or will Woody’s latest scheme end up cementing their position as the biggest screw-ups ever?
It’s funny! Obviously important here, the book manages to be ridiculous without being impossible to take seriously or attempting to be edgy.
Hastings absolutely nails the “odd couple” relationship, which is not always easy to do. He uses the things that create friction between the characters to generate comedy & story, but also makes it clear to the reader what these two mean to each other.
Ryan Browne’s art elevates the book, giving it an energy that pushes against the boundaries of the traditional superhero style and comes fizzing out of the edges. He effortlessly juxtaposes creepy assassins with slapstick action.
It’s great seeing a letterer like Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou get to do so much in a book, presenting everything from the rantings of a talking parasitic brain to sound effects like “floppy” and “BWONG” in a unique way that made every page easy & fun to read.
Ruth Redmond’s colors combine with the art and the lettering to create a visual delight. In a comic where a mundane scene involves a man doing push-ups with a goat on his back as his hand begins to disintegrate into quantum bubbles, these hyper-real colors bring a vibrant intensity to every bit of mad science or horrible sewer without being overwhelming.
The book evokes comedy in other mediums without just copying their conventions. The way flashbacks and matter-of-fact narrator commentary were handled is especially clever.
Quantum & Woody is the sort of book that could descend into pure adolescent randomness in the hands of the wrong writer. Avoiding that trap is a real strength to this book.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
First and foremost, it looks like the series was canceled early in March of 2020, likely due to the effects of a worldwide pandemic on the industry. Though each issue is a complete story, there were inevitably many dangling threads. It was recently collected as Quantum and Woody: Earth’s Last Choice.
It’s worth warning that there’s a very destructive attack on the U.S. Capitol by assassins in the first issue, a more delicate matter than it might have been when that issue originally came out, and a number of members of Congress are murdered as a result.
The level of comedic storytelling used here may not work for everyone, as it is not purely cartoonish or particularly grounded. There is a definite feeling that just about anything could happen, and even moments that feel like jokes might have real consequences.
The convention used for the recaps, multiple panels with snippets representing moments in the characters’ pasts or previous issues, crowds out what’s happening in the “now” of the book once or twice.
The Apprehension is a great concept and character, but the design doesn’t quite click in the perfect way others in the book manage to.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Hastings and Browne are the perfect creative leads for a book like this, action and comedy that stretches the bounds of what a mainstream superhero book looks or reads like, and manage to make it look easy. A reader can practically feel the energy everyone involved poured into every page, an enthusiasm that carries into every absurd disaster and sincere character moment.
The book provides a great introduction for anyone who is totally new to Quantum and Woody but can also act as a jumping-on point for those who missed previous stories.
That energy is also put to good use, allowed to run wild with an exploration of just how messed up a world filled with would-be techno-tyrants, frustrated hyper-tech researchers, and covered up cosmic accidents might be. It's a premise which opens the door to ridiculous action, ups the threat level, and repeatedly centers the relationship between the main characters in an interesting way.
If you love superhero comedy and mad science mayhem, Quantum and Woody is definitely worth a look, and may have raised the bar for all future comics in that style.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Unbelievable Gwenpool by Christopher Hastings & Gurihiru Studios
Spider-Man/Deadpool by Joe Kelly & Ed McGuinness
The Delinquents by James Asmus, Fred Van Lente & Kano
If you like the art:
Curse Words by Ryan Browne
Super-Villain Team-Up: MODOK’s 11 by Fred Van Lente & Francis Portela
Atomic Robo: The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur by Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Christopher Hastings – Writer
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja was an incredibly popular webcomic that Hastings wrote & drew from 2004 to 2017.
He’s worked on a number of comedic books for Marvel, notably The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Vote Loki, and a number of Deadpool stories.
Multitalented: Not only is he a writer who drew his own webcomic for 13 years, he is also a regular on the Rude Tales of Magic gaming podcast.
Ryan Browne – Illustrator
His frequent crowdfunding experience led to him running a course on Kickstarting Your Comic or Graphic Novel online in 2020.
Browne is an arcade fan, frequenting the Logan Arcade in Chicago and his own home arcade cabinet.
Much of Ryan’s early mainstream work was filling in on books for friends, like Manhattan Projects and Bedlam.
Ruth Redmond – Colorist
Multitalented: Ruth has written, illustrated, and colored her own books alongside the work she’s become known for as a colorist.
Her early work as a colorist included stints on Deadpool, The Worst X-Man Ever, and The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.
Outlander: Ruth is originally from Ireland, and currently resides in Canada.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou – Letterer
Hassan’s digital magazine on comic books and visual storytelling, PanelxPanel, won the Eisner Award.
As a letterer he frequently discusses the process and importance of lettering, even re-lettering panels he’s worked on to illustrate the difference a bad job can make.
Outlander: He lives and works in the United Kingdom.
Heather Antos – Editor
Heather is an outspoken political advocate on social media, using her platform to comment on issues within and outside the industry.
As an editor Antos has used her eye for talent to pair several of the creators she worked with at Marvel with projects at Valiant, some of them on this book.
She is currently a Senior Editor at Valiant Entertainment and Image Comics, and has worked on a number of incredibly popular books.
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