Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Quantum and Woody Volume 2: In Security Review (James Asmus, Ming Doyle)

James Asmus’ second Quantum and Woody arc is as strong and funny as the first, and this time around he’s joined by the amazing art team of Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire.

Eric’s rich cowboy boss, Terence Magnum, knows he’s secretly Quantum and hires him to be his own personal superhero - inadvertently hiring Woody too as, without klacking their super-powered bracelets every 24 hours, they both die. Their first mission? To take out a hillbilly outpost in rural America that’s stockpiling weapons for a 21st century revolutionary war against the durn govment! But things aren’t quite what they seem and before they know it, Eric (a black man) is inexplicably on the side of white supremacist right wingers in a fight against a private army! 

Q&W is a comic where the premise of the superhero duo is strangely the least interesting aspect of the series. I read Q&W for the comedy and amazing chemistry between the two leads, brothers who’re very much the odd couple of the comics world (or the Riggs and Murtaugh of the Valiant Universe - and not because they’re black and white). The book’s filled with tons of great details like Woody going apartment hunting with his clone girlfriend 69 (whose name has nothing to do with what you’re thinking!), and the continued appearance of Vincent Van Goat, who is a dangerous but lovable goat. 

None of the characters are meant to be realistic and that’s what I love about this book. Magnum’s a caricature of a rich Republican down-home Southern Baptist kinda fella (he’s even got a cross-shaped hot tub on his private jet – handy for spur-of-the-moment baptisms!) while the hillbillies are, well, as you’d expect from the label: nutjobs who blame everything on the “fascist” government. As highly enjoyable as these cartoons are Asmus does make Eric a Republican and writes him as an intelligent one, not a right-wing extremist like the others. Staying on the political slant to the series for a moment, I also really liked the way Asmus went after Don’t Ask Don’t Tell while it was still in effect (the US Army’s former policy on homosexual soldiers). 

I love that they’re still squabbling like kids but Woody’s somehow making Eric seem like a lunatic, like in the first book where he somehow managed to twist Eric’s words to make him look racist! In the second book, they discuss 69, the clone of their enemy, and Eric says “she’s got evil blood and I don’t trust her!”, and Woody says “You know that stance is basically eugenics, right?”. And it’s a small detail but Eric having trouble coming up with quips while he fights goons was a nice touch – becoming a vigilante and a “witty” chatterbox don’t instantly go hand in hand! 

Ming Doyle’s art is fantastic, complimenting Asmus’ comedic script with perfect facial expressions and physical comedy – the repeated use of the close up head shot was brilliant (also felt vaguely Chew-ish – but that’s definitely a compliment, as that comic is awesome). I loved the onomatopoeia in the final battle. When an overweight redneck with a bow and arrow (who Woody calls Fatniss Everdeen) gets a missile to the chops, the sound effect is “FAT-DOOOOM!” and when Eric figures out how to use his shields as weapons to take out a tank, the effect reads “BA-DASSSSSS!”. 

I was going to say the series needed more Vincent Van Goat but then I saw that next month’s issue is all about him showing how well that Asmus and co. know their audience! Quantum and Woody isn’t just Valiant’s funniest series, it’s one of the funniest and most entertaining comics being published right now. Volume 2 continues to impress and amuse with its unique brand of comedy and superheroes.

Quantum and Woody Volume 2: In Security

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