REVIEW: “Quantum and Woody” #3

(Valiant Entertainment, 2013)

Review by Cory Thrall

WRITTEN BY: James Asmus
ARTWORK BY: Tom Fowler
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Jordie Bellaire

I’ve seen this title being referred to as a “buddy cop” type pf story, only with costumes and super powers, and this is fairly accurate.  You have all of the right fixtures – the strong, more experienced hero matched with the loose cannon crazy guy – all tipped in a thick coating of humor, science fiction, and mystery.  Add in the superheroes and you’ve basically got this book down.  The difference between this comic and a ‘by-the-numbers’ buddy-whatever of any kind?  The creative and inventive work presented here by Asmus, Fowler, and Bellaire, that’s what.

I’m assuming that since you’re reading a review of the 3rd issue of this series you have some passing knowledge of the premise.  So, without having to recap how we all got to this issue, let’s take a look at this new issue.

Quantum (Eric) and Woody, step brothers now in the super hero-ing business, have met up with Johnny 1 and 2 while breaking into the office of their deceased Father’s boss at Quantum Energy Solutions.  They went in looking for clues but found these fine villains instead, who quickly unleash the “Nightmare Brigade” – a large number of gigantic spider bodies with elongated necks that have a clown’s face for a head.  These lovely clown heads open up to a shark’s array of needles (not needle size teeth but actual needles).  It’s hilarious that, out of all the things that makes up these monstrosities, Woody is more afraid of the clown faces than anything else.  Having a strong fear of clowns is quite a phobia!  Needless to say, a battle ensues.  During all of the chaos, Johnny 1 & 2 realize that the step-brothers are using their Father’s work, namely the Quantum Control Devices that serve as their powered wristbands.

We learn that Woody is having problems with using his powers correctly, and this adds (in my mind) to the main aspect of Woody’s character – he really is, in more ways than one, the ‘loose cannon’ of the piece.  His constant lack of seriousness and control makes this problem with his powers all the more unsettling.  A loose cannon with a cannon he can’t even control?  Now that’s a problem.

A few times in this issue we are treated to some heavy flashbacks concerning Eric and his Father, who seems to treat Woody better in what might be over compensation for being the ‘Step-Dad’, and an attempt to calm the hyper and trouble-making Woody.  This leaves Eric with a burning frustration, anger, and loneliness that is only rivaled by his curious intelligence and motivation to do what’s right and expected.  It’s a conflict I’ve seen play out in real life, and it’s a very powerful bit of character development even with the few short pages devoted to these flashes.  It brings more things to the table that we see carrying over into his and Woody’s adult lives and their eventual teaming up.  It’s a conflict as old as time, but done so realistically it’s heartbreaking.

The ‘funny’ comes back as Eric and Woody first try to convince a thankful crowd that they are Super Heroes, only to high tail it as they hear the cops approaching.  Eric’s attempt to leave some ‘Hero’-esque advice as they make their escape is classic and fun, and shows their inexperience as heroes.  Their immediate switch from showboating to rabbiting from the police is quick and hilarious, and the way they elude the police is a great device that later gives us one of the funniest moments in the issue.

Later, the constantly bickering brothers get into an even bigger argument than normal, and it quickly turns into a full blown fight once Eric uses their Father’s memory against Woody.  The outcome causes Eric/Quantum to go on a mission on his own, taking his hated costume along as he follows the only lead they have.  Woody is left along to do as he pleases, and this is exactly what he does.  A call to a ‘massage parlor’ brings more than loving to his door, and he eventually finds himself in a very awkward place by the end of the issue.

In this issue we are also fully introduced to the main enemy of the comic, the E.R.A., which we learn stands for “Edison’s Radical Aquisitions”.  Their goal is to seize all forms of science, all to “steal the power from the Gods themselves”, leaving only then to decide when humanity is ready to “advance that next little baby step”.  This adds a new layer to this title, as we begin to see more of a sci-fi element within this group.  Crazy and scary times await the brothers, it seems, and from the look of the members of the E.R.A. it’s going to get even more interesting from here.

This was a good issue, but sadly the least so of these first three.  It feels like a set-up issue, and that’s not a bad thing at all.  We need these quick issues to get the ball rolling, and this issue has enough character and story development to keep readers happy.  Sure, this issue may read quick and seem very surface for the most part, but what it’s setting up looks to be some off the wall stuff.  It makes me excited for the issues ahead, for sure.

One of the main things that is missing, however, is the ‘funny’.  There are a few jokes and funny bits here and there, but this issue seems to have exchanged some of he silly/serious tone of previous issues with a stronger serious one.  Again, this is in no way a bad thing, as a lot of the subject matter – especially the flashbacks – carries itself by the weight of what’s the come, and not all of their adventure is going to be fun and games.  From the looks of it, things are about to get pretty serious.  But, this being Quantum & Woody I imagine there will still be that wallop of silly fun thrown right in there with the rest of it.  So, not as much humor in this issue, but enough to keep the spirit of the title consistent.

The writing from James Asmus is still as clean and tight as usual, and the brothers are still great characters with their own voice, motivations, and personalities.  The artwork by Tom Fowler, with color art by Jordie Bellaire, is as strong and lively as ever, and with their work and Asmus’ script this title has created a look and feel all it’s own.  Hell, I’d even go so far as to say this might be one of the most unique Super Hero titles on the shelves.

___________________________

Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter:  @FeralFang27

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