By James Asmus, Tom Fowler, and Jordie Bellaire
Quantum and Woody is a solid comic, but one that poses a troubling dilemma: does a comic containing all of the elements of a resoundingly good read which has trouble with forward momentum merit praise on an individual basis, or collectively as a complete story? To say Asmus and Fowler haven’t created an entertaining and expertly characterized story would be an outright falsehood. But at the end of every issue I find myself stricken with an undeniable feeling of unfulfillment, that modern sense when a single issue leaves me hanging beyond the anticipation of the next issue. At its core, Quantum and Woody is a well-crafted read, but it is worthy of picking up in singles, or is it another addition to the ever-growing “wait for the trade” library?
To immediately dispel issues of quality, Asmus and Fowler have without question, encapsulated the essence of buddy style action movies: Eric the straight edge, justice for the sake of justice good cop, Woody the unpredictable, morally unscrupulous bad cop. Creating the buddy cop scenario in a superhero setting, coupled with witty and highly expressionistic storytelling, is an experience that can easily go south without proper supervision (or reckless disregard, take your pick). Each issue is accomplished in appropriating, twisting for the specific needs of the comic, and repackaging in a way that makes sense to the characters and story this thoroughly defined style.
Where Quantum and Woody runs into trouble is the essence of the maxim, “too much of a good thing.” Witty banter between Eric and Woody is some of the finest that can be seen in comics. Asmus has such a resoundingly strong grasp on both character’s personalities it would be a fair assumption to question him having a split personality affliction. Similarly, Fowler’s dynamic expressiveness and slapstick sensibilities breathe even further life into each brotherly conflict, creating a wonderfully hyperbolic real world extension of the step brothers, making transference from page to screen easy to imagine.
This wonderfully crafted aspect becomes a problem given the volume in which it is employed. Each issue feels overly burdened by the banter occupied page space between Eric and Woody, and the effect is very quickly diluted by the end of the issue. In the beginning it elicits justifiably audible laughter; by the end it seems only worthy of a burdened sigh due to its frequency and redundant nature.
The overabundance of witty banter and slapstick also creates a potentially unanticipated issue. Since most of the series to this point has been reliant on these conflicts, should Asmus and Fowler step away from utilizing these interpersonal interactions, forward momentum is left in a state of ambiguity. In this sense the outstanding comedic exploits eventually step in front of the comic’s momentum, forcing readers to endure over-usage of a good thing to enjoy under-usage of yet another good thing. Should Asmus and Fowler suddenly scale back the amount of page time spent with these arguments, the tone of the comic might change too dramatically and derail the reading experience as a whole.
Whether or not the pacing of Quantum and Woody is an intentional stop gap to slow the story down for the benefit of the long haul, or the main goal of this comic is pervasive comedic interludes, it’s a solid read and a good start. Yet halfway into a standard length story this comic has only just begun to scratch the surface of key conflicts and main nemeses, while only leaving flashback sequences for further development of two already overly-characterized protagonists.
You could do a lot worse than Quantum and Woody, but in order to transcend a label of good Asmus and Fowler need to work through some fundamental difficulties.