Quantum & Woody Must Die! (Issues #1-2)

Quantum & Woody Must Die! #1-2
Written by James Asmus
Illustrated by Steve Lieber
Colored by Dave McCaig
Lettered by Dave Lanphear
Valiant Entertainment

Quantum and Woody Must Die! is a 4-issue miniseries from Valiant chronicling the adventures of the "world's worst superhero team" and all of the people that totally hate them and want to kill them (because they're kind of idiots). After the first 2 issues of this miniseries, I'm happy to say that fans of Quantum & Woody will love this, as will anyone else who's a fan of absurd action, occasional heartfelt moments, and some outrageous, gleefully offensive humor.

As the series picks up, things have improved for Quantum and Woody. They are just as incompetent as ever in attempting to stop the robbery of an armored truck, but everyone in town seems to love them anyway. Well, almost everyone. Okay, maybe not quite as many as they'd like. Everyone? It's such a nebulous term. How to define it? Maybe we should---

Ahem. Where was I?

There are a number of people conspiring to bring these two heroes down, each of whom has been adversely affected by Quantum & Woody's incompetence.  As the series progresses, it seems like luck is about to run out for the world's worst superhero team, and Quantum and Woody...must die!

These first two issues are a lot of fun (and it's probably a mistake to spend too much time thinking about the plot of a Quantum and Woody story). Since the reintroduction of the Valiant universe several years ago, Quantum and Woody has been their most explicitly (in several different meanings of the word) humor book. They're absurd characters that get into all sorts of ridiculous situations. Writer James Asmus has been handling these characters for the past few years and has a very good handle on them.  They're genuinely well-meaning here but still not all that good at being heroes.  In another superhero book this might be a grim reminder that with great power comes great responsibility, but here it's played for laughs. Make no mistake, the book is crude and offensive at times, delightfully so. When our heroes accidentally cause a man to be doused with chemicals, they wonder whether he'll be developing super powers but instead he just develops 7 kinds of cancer (though he does eventually get super powers).  Asmus excels at Quantum and Woody's silly, weird, loving dynamic (they're foster brothers), and making light of the fact that they're both well-meaning in their own way, but even Quantum (the more serious one) is really not all that good at being a superhero.

Asmus has a highly skilled partner here Steve Lieber. If you've read Superior Foes of Spider-Man, then you know what Lieber is capable of (if you haven't read it, stop whatever it is you're doing right now and go read it).  Lieber is a master at visual humor, in presenting the punchline of a joke in the best possible way, in using facial expressions and body language to sell the humor of a situation and the personality of characters, and in playing in absurd ideas and contacts without taking the reader out of the story. Here, Lieber has a slightly more reined-in, less absurdist style then in the Superior Foes book, as the linework here feels consistent what readers have seen in previous volumes of the Quantum & Woody comic, but he and the entire art team bring a lot of visual wit to the proceedings.

Lieber has able art partners in colorist Dave McCaig and Dave Lanphear, who've worked on other Valiant books. McCaig's colors work well here; they have a slightly flat, muted feel to them in places which gives the book a classic comics feel. But there's plenty of bright color and contrast throughout the book, particularly in the action. The lettering is similarly skillful, as there are some really fun, subtle touches where lettering is used to convey both sound effects and emotion. One other great touch here is in certain situations where word balloons convey images (either objects, or musical notes) rather than words, so the reader sees what's being talked about.

The first two issues in Quantum & Woody Must Die! are a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to seeing how the series wraps up. If you're looking for a deep, quiet, thoughtful exploration of humanity and the cosmos, you should go read Divinity. For a ridiculous, absurd laugh out loud funny story about terrible superheroes and the way in which they keep screwing up (but with the best of intentions, mostly), you should read Quantum & Woody Must Die!