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Comicscape: Quantum and Woody #1
Came Back Haunted
By Joel Rickenbach
July 11, 2013
Welcome to Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. This week we celebrate the return of Quantum and Woody, a book that's been sorely missed.
Quantum and Woody #1 (by James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire): It is very hard to do comedy well in comics, very hard. Pacing and timing are so important for jokes to work, and to mesh that with static images and word balloons is no easy feat. A large percentage of comics that attempt comedy fail, they just can’t marry the images to the words, or the words get in the way of the art, or, sadly, they’re just not funny period. Quantum and Woody gets it right, so satisfyingly right, and it’s the best comedic book I’ve read in years. Why this book works is its understanding of where comedy is now, and where comedy has come from. These days, a large amount of comedy comes from “snark”(and particularly comic book humor, see Deadpool), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but snark alone will only get you so far. There are bits in Quantum and Woody that pull from a much deeper pantheon of humor- People like Mel Brooks, or Eddie Murphy, and movies like The Kentucky Fried Movie and Beverly Hills Cop. This all adds up to something incredibly refreshing and hilarious. At a funeral for our character’s father, one of the attendees comforts “Your Dad was a real asset to the company… …and a heckuva bowler too.” And later at that same funeral, there is a bit involving a priest who is interrupted delivering a funeral rite that is so perfectly crafted I got flashbacks of the types of comedies I grew up loving. It’s a small gag, but both writer and artist are to be commended.
What makes Quantum and Woody a true must read is that it’s not just a comedy, there is a real story being told, and the serious moments highlight the humor just that much more. The book opens with our two costume clad characters falling out of a 42nd story window, but quickly flashes back to show us how they got there. Eric and Woody are brothers, sort of… Eric’s father takes Woody in when he is a kid, and the three of them form their own kind of family. Fast forward to present day, and Eric is an overly aggressive military man, seeing danger even when there isn't any, and Woody is a lothario and a drifter, picking pockets and stealing hearts. They are reunited when they get the news their father has died, and they're at each other's throats almost instantly. Their fight isn't just typical squabbling, there's real emotion under the jabs and insults. What brings them back together is their belief that their father was actually murdered, and even though they initially go about handling it in their own ways, like most family, they are thrust back together, whether they like it or not.
Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire's art is phenomenal, they nail the visual clarity needed to pull off sight gags, and they can shift character's emotions without words. James Asmus has delivered that rare first issue that hits on every level- Humor, character, mystery and excitement. Quantum and Woody has shot to the top of my pile for must read books of 2013, and the Valiant train of quality keeps chugging along.
Superman Unchained #2 (by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee): The opening scene of this issue is fascinating. It showcases Superman's ability to problem solve in the moments between seconds. The tallest building in Dubai is collapsing, there are thousands of people inside, and he's being attacked by a giant mech-like construction vehicle. Snyder seems to revel in challenging Superman's abilities and creativity, which is a refreshing approach to the character. It's also notable because it's in direct opposition to the way the character was written in this summer's Man of Steel. Superman Unchained #2 was well into printing when MoS was released, but it's still interesting to see what the comic writers glean from the character versus screen writers and directors. The rest of the issue isn't quite so spectacular, it's the emergence of things to come- Lex Luthor, The army's secret Superman-like being and Kryptonite found in an unexpected place. There's some nice stuff between Superman and Batman, but on the whole I feel like this book is still an issue or two away from truly earning the "Unchained" moniker.
Ghosted #1 (by Joshua Williamson, Goran Sudzuka and Miroslav Mrva): If it wasn't for Quantum and Woody, this would easily be the best book I've read this week, and I am so incredibly jazzed to read more. The quick pitch- Jackson T. Winters is wasting away in prison, comforted by the fact that death will probably come sooner than later. Unfortunately for that small bit of solace, someone has other plans for Mr. Winters. A very old and rich collector of weird and occult artifacts stages a riot at the prison, and has his right hand, para-military trained woman break Winters out. The reason? This very Christopher Lee-esque millionaire needs something to complete his collection- an actual ghost, and he wants Winters to catch one for him. Sounds crazy, but we get hints this may not be Winters' first rodeo with the occult. What follows is Ocean's 11 dipped in The House on Haunted Hill (the 1959 version, not the 1999 craptacular remake). Winters assembles a team, each with a very specific skill, and they embark to explore an abandoned old mansion that's due for demolition in two weeks. The family that once lived there were up to some pretty horrible things, so if there's ghosts anywhere, it's probably there.
This book oozes with classic horror and Rat Pack cool ("I want a 50's style suit, something Sinatra would wear"), and trust me when I say It's a match made in heaven. From the mysterious benefactor, Markus Schrecken, coming straight out of a Hammer film, to his house, which is full of so many little references (hello Dracula's Bat helmet from Coppola's film!), this book clearly is made with a ton of love and care. Goran Sudzuka's art is tonally perfect for the story being told, and Joshua Williamson is proving to be one of the most interesting writers in the medium. Don't miss this book!