QUANTUM & WOODY #1

Writer: Daniel Kibblesmith
Artist: Kano
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee

Now that we’re multiple volumes and creative teams of QUANTUM AND WOODY past the OG creation by Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright, it’s kind of weird to see how the timeliness and characters have evolved over the years but yet stylistically it is very much in the same vein as the original material. Eric “Quantum” Henderson and Woodrow “Woody” Van Chelton are very much still the oddest of odd couples, playing off their differences in race and responsibility levels, with Eric very much the uptight stickler for the rules and Woody playing everything so irreverently and always skirting the law while they “strive” to uphold it. And this book is still very much written with the Christopher Priest flare for scene framing and playing with and against social norms. But those social norms and how they have shifted in twenty years have very much dictated a shift in the tone and attitude Quantum and (especially) Woody exude, which makes the selection of someone like Kibblesmith, who is still a bit of a comic book novice but a man well tread in social commentary via jobs with “The Colbert Report” and “Clickhole,” an interesting get for the off kilter duo while teaming him with industry and Valiant vet Kano on pencils.

The main thing about this debut issue, to go with that lead-in, is that Kibblesmith shows pretty quickly he’s got the voices of these two characters down. Immediately the book comes “hard” with the dichotomy of Quantum’s consummate do-goodery and Woody’s brashness as they careen down busy city streets chasing a kook of a villain that wouldn’t make Batman’s fourth string rogue’s gallery. There’s a lot of exasperated back and forth between the too – mainly from Quantum’s side, of course – and each character is well in their wheelhouse with Quantum fully hamming it up playing a masked hero and Woody pandering to social media while the plow through ice cream stands. It’s just a good back and forth that shows Kibblesmith knows the characters, their personalities, and their hyperactive on-again/off-again relationship. And it’s a pretty good showpiece for Kano and his penciling skills as the first handful of pages are very high on energy and expressiveness through facial tics and body language and using a lot of panels within panels to add highlights to all the chaos.

Likewise, and this is where I’m going to start to tilt an otherwise pretty on board piece, the rest of this new volume starts to look a bit like the older ones again where the brothers from another mothers have themselves some falling out. Eric goes off to be square-jawed and upright working for Uncle Sam leaving Woody behind to fend for himself, which is always a horrific concept to fathom. And it’s amusing and makes for great comedy because, honestly, Woody is probably the best “love to hate him” scoundrel type since Booster Gold in the world of comic books. But it does feel like, if you’re someone that has read the original Priest/Bright rendition of these boys and then the James Asmus work that came with the jump into the Valiant relaunch, it feels very much “been there.” It reads very well even if it is familiar though. Kibblesmith does have a nice grasp on how you can still somehow feel some brotherly love deep below the surface but that Eric just doesn’t still quite know how to handle Woody’s eccentricities and irresponsibility always get in the way of being a productive member of society other than being a part of Quantum and Woody the superteam, not the step brothers. And the shenanigans Woody gets into in his months as a “solo act” are vintage Woody.

The main thing is, I just hope that Kibblesmith has a lot more shenanigans in mind to develop this type of on-again, off-again relationship the boys have. The last volume had plenty of that too but ended up in a pregnant goat who was also their dad (sort of), infiltrating a far right militia, and destroying an Earth. Kibblesmith gives plenty of acknowledgment to knowing the story needs to go just beyond the boys squabbling so by the end we have some intriguing and alluring plot hooks involving Woody’s real father and then introducing some colorful characters (and a living shrub) to which Woody is now conscripted to work for to conquer his mass of gambling debts. I get that this pairing and their exploits together are probably forever doomed to mostly revolve around them getting too dysfunctional for their own good, breaking up, getting back together, repeat, but it has to have some other selling point. Right now, Kibblesmith and Kano are talking the right talk literally because how these two banter with and bounce off each other is key to a good QUANTUM AND WOODY book, but I’ll need a couple more issues to see if they’re walking the walk properly in bringing next level hijinks and shenanigans as at the least changes of pace, if not just next level comedy like with some of the adventures Asmus and company took them on, as this new volume progresses. It’s a very solid start by a fresh team (especially so in Kibblesmith’s case) but I’m hoping we get a more ambitious ramping up of the tomfoolery as the issues keep coming.

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to AICN COMICS and now at MLMILLERWRITES.COM. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to – funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He’s a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn’t the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.