Quantum and Woody really are the worst superhero team around. Although they generally save the day, it’s not always clear that was what they originally intended. The first volume comprises issues 1-4, and although it’s thread through an enjoyable story, the ridiculous situations the characters get themselves into often overshadow the plot. It deliberately attempts to be as funny as possible, and sometimes it falls flat, but often it hits home. This is a nice addition to Valiant Entertainment’s arsenal, and does include a few passing mentions to other heroes in the universe.
Eric and Woody Henderson are brothers by adoption. Eric’s father took young Woody in, knowing he was a troubled kid: always getting arrested, into fights, drug habits – the works. Woody eventually ran away from home, never to return. Some time later and it appears their father was murdered for something he was working on in his laboratory. This, of all things, brings the two sons back together, and the friction between the two is magical. By friction I mean to say the two couldn’t be more opposite in every way, and their ridiculous head-butting eventually leads them towards their inevitable super-powered origin; a laboratory experiment gone awry. Eric, who eventually adopts a cool blue outfit and calls himself Quantum, gains the ability to create force-fields. Woody, who decides not to wear any particularly notable costume, and doesn’t change his name at all, gains the ability to create energy blasts. The irony of the two’s newfound abilities is that they can’t wait to get away from each other, but are required to ‘Klang’ their bracelets together every 24 hours, or else they’ll fade away to nothing.
Were I reading this on a weekly or monthly basis, instead of in it’s collected trade paperback format, I probably wouldn’t really get too involved in this series. It simply divulges from the issue at hand so quickly it’s often hard to keep up with. But bear with me, as it is really fun.
The inherent inability to get along sets them apart from pretty much any superhero team on the market, a refreshing departure from the perfect team-mentality other books push. And sure, other teams generally take some pushing and shoving to work together coherently, but any coherent work Quantum and Woody get accomplished is never quite a planned effort. It just sort of… happens.
And boy, is this book funny. It straddles the line of what is politically correct and what isn’t when it comes down to ethics, race, and more, but it never goes too far. Being of different skin colors, the two brothers often get themselves into immensely ironic scenarios, and the artist’s ability to portray the shock on each others faces is priceless. That’s not to say all the jokes land. Often they’re littered with sensored curses, which do little to dissuade a young imaginative mind from deciphering what’s actually being said. It goes from feeling like a children’s read to something stamped with an R rating, and that felt unbalanced.
The villains too were ridiculous to the point of unbelievability. But that’s the whole fun of the novel. These superheroes are morally ambiguous, because all they really want is to solve their father’s murder. They in turn save the day in decidedly unheroic fashions. And that’s kind of fun. That’s the real point. And it lands with flying colors in that department.
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