By James Asmus, Steve Lieber, Dave McCaig, and Dave Lanphear
They’re not dead yet. Wouldn’t that be great if that were the entirety of this review? Like some sort of Amazon review that your Aunt shares on Facebook because she just discovered Buzzfeed is a thing? Why is it called Amazon anyway, because of the rainforest or because of the mythological warriors? What were we talking about again? Oh, right, Quantum and Woody Must Die! #2 is once again like visiting with good friends; cracking jokes, taking potshots and occasionally going off on an unrelated tangent like the one above. James Asmus and Steve Lieber continue to deliver the comedy goods complete with bedpan projectiles, revenge-fueled support groups, ebola-faced baddies and bears! Oh my!
Unsurprisingly, Asmus’ script is loaded with the signature quirky quips and impertinence married to self-aware super-heroics, but there’s also interesting legitimacy to his protagonists’ emotions and psyches. Asmus’ past work on Quantum and Woody always brilliantly packed tremendous heart in between the outrageous antics, specifically examining how childhood events shaped and challenged the brothers’ modern day relationship to each other and to their father as well as how it forged their current motivations and hang-ups. The first issue of Must Die lacked anything along those lines instead it was committed to (hilariously) setting up our present threat, but issue #2 does provide some of that character depth to balance out the absurdity. Specifically, Eric’s reasons for continuing to don a mask despite that fact that’s he’s pretty horrible at the whole secret identity thing, and Woody’s fear of shattering his brother’s dreams. While those moments are still played fro laughs, there’s some definitive heart to be found amongst the multitude of facetious fun.
Steve Lieber continues to deliver the punch lines to Asmus’ set-ups. There are a few titles out there that inject humor into their stories, but few feel as authentic as Quantum And Woody, due largely to Lieber’s ability to control comedy beats to perfection. Sometimes it’s a perfectly timed page turn reveal, other times it’s a multi-panel payoff but the elasticity of movement is what brings it all together. Events both grandiose (Exploding vans! Exploding zookeepers!) and mundane (closing the blinds! Bumping into someone at the coffee shop!) all carry the same heft thanks to Lieber’s knack for delivering the perfect distillation of wtf?-face on every page. His particular blend of retro-pulp restraint with a more modern expressive sensibility is the pitch-perfect style to bring life to the exuberances of these superheroes’ foibles. And Woody’s bear-face, omg Steve, thank you.
Rounding out the creative team, both McCaig’s dynamic colors and Lanphear’s imaginative lettering assert this as a book firing on all comedy-cylinders. Keeping things appropriately bright with richly saturated hues that playfully incorporate fun pop-inducing contrasts, such as Woody’s suit basically everywhere or Lyanne’s questionable Christmas-colored suit. Equally fun are the tinted, monochromatic flashbacks of the support group members’ superhero qualms, as well as the more neutral, comforting palette of the everyday coffee shop. Lanphear plays with incorporating multi-media platforms into his lettering, including the text message styled balloons and use of everyone’s favorite emoji (the poop one) into traditional text. And whether it was Lieber or Lanphear who sculpted a particular action explosion sound effect, all you will joyfully be left saying is, “Van-Daaaammmnnn, oh no you didn’t!”
Quantum and Woody Must Die! is a study in how to craftily incorporate humor into the superhero genre, without making any of the characters found therein one-dimensional caricatures. If you’re already a fan of the characters, everything you’d expect is delivered here. If you’re unfamiliar, the barrier to entry is practically nil, with the only necessary information succinctly provided in the brief recap found on page one. With all of the setup out of the way, issue #2 provides great payoff to the first issue’s foundation-laying and provides plenty to look forward to in the series’ remaining two issues. Do you wish there were more straight comedies to be found in comics? Stop wishing, it’s right here. A+++ Great seller, reliable shipping, would buy from again.