Pullbox Reviews: Quantum & Woody #1 – Family Fun Day, Assassinations, & a Goat

Well this is awkward…

See, here’s the thing. I don’t like Quantum & Woody. I tried, I swear I did, but was never able to get into it & I’m gonna tell you why. Woody is, for lack of a better word, an annoying little pissant. Believe me when I tell you that I’ve known quite a few annoying pissants in my life, and I try my level best to avoid them wherever possible (For the record, I’m also not a fan of Will Farrell or Danny McBride movies. No offense, Misters Farrell & McBride, or to your fans… I’m sure you’re both great guys if I got to know you, I just don’t care for your movies).

And then this issue came along. Not that the issue itself changed my mind. No, I still had no intention at all of reading it… until a certain acquaintance planted a seed of doubt. He told me that Quantum & Woody was an acquired taste, for sure, but that it was one of his favorite Valiant titles. When he found out that I had a review copy available to read, he asked me to let him know how it was.

Thanks a lot, Joe. By the onus of an obligatory friendship clause, unspoken but still binding, I’ve taken it as a personal challenge to give it another go, for better or for worse. That’s when it happened…

I kinda liked it.

Don’t get me wrong, Woody is still pretty annoying, but Christopher Hastings has spun up a story of two wannabe heroes fallen from grace, on the run & in search of redemption. An underdog story, which is odd considering the title characters are in possession of quantum bands that grant them powers beyond understanding and a goat that’s the “key to all space & time”. Where Hastings really sunk the hook was in the introduction of the Kammerjägers, a bizarre group of protagonists who are out to perform heinous deeds while promoting good family values. Finally, and this is the one that really burns my bacon, Hastings has kinda made me feel bad for poor misunderstood Woody. By all appearances, the perennial ne’er-do-well is trying to step up to the plate, to do the right thing even if it may not be for entirely the right reasons (seriously, dude, endorsements? Who are you, Booster Gold now?). All of these story elements- plus the goat- conspire with Hastings’s knack for sharp dialogue & comedic timing to drag me kicking and screaming into a title I really wanted nothing to do with.

But wait… there’s more.

Without a doubt, one of the hallmarks for all of Valiant’s titles has been in their visual appeal. Go all the way back to the beginning- which I have been lately- when some of the flagship titles (X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong) were under the pencil of Barry Windsor Smith. That’s a name that would be tough to follow as a comicbook artist, & that burden of responsibility is hefted here by Ryan Browne. Without a doubt, Browne has embraced the absurdity that goes along with Quantum & Woody– one half of the dysfunctional duo dresses like a Miami Vice drug dealer and goes by the very un-heroic name of “Woody”- his style occasionally teetering right on the brink of goofy without ever falling fully over into it. With the addition of colors by Ruth Redmond, every panel has a great dynamic look as Redmond invests Browne’s work with a bright & lively tone.

Rounding out the visual aspect of Quantum & Woody, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering has elevated the game. His dialogue is all pretty straight forward, but where Hassan has won me over is in his creative touches on sound effects. He takes a simple thing, for instance a look shared between characters, & with a simple addition turns the panel into a comedic beat instead of a static pause. I never knew what a “knowing wink” sounded like until now, but apparently it sounds just like that.

I’m not very happy about it, but I have to give the new & greatly improved (from my personal point of view) Quantum & Woody a grudging & slightly surly thumbs up. It’s a title that’s always been noted for a sense of whimsy, but for whatever reason it never got me. Now with this new creative team, it looks like I have to change my outlook. I might even come out of this a better person (or not) for having tried something new.

I’m still not into Will Farrell movies, though. I gotta draw a line somewhere, and apparently it’s at Ricky Bobby.

Final Score: 9

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