Quantum and Woody #7
James Asmus, Ming Doyle, Jordie Bellaire
What makes a funny book… well, funny? There are a lot of ‘classic’ comedy bits and parts, and even though we’ve seen them all before, a perfectly executed bit will always bring a smile to your face. Seven issues in, and I can’t say that Quantum and Woody has been particularly innovative in its use of comedy tropes – the joker and the straight man, the bordering-on-farcical action, and (particularly in this issue) the absurdly bent situational comedy – but writer James Asmus doesn’t need to innovate as long as he keeps approaching those tropes in smart, loopy ways. Quantum and Woody #7 is yet another clever, enjoyable issue in what has proven thus far to be a fantastically clever, enjoyable series.
While artist Ming Doyle has thus far been a competent replacement for Tom Fowler (the artist for the excellent first volume of the series), he lacks the smooth character design and crisp action that Fowler lent the earliest issues. There’s something just a little bit off about Doyle’s figures and faces, and I’ve always thought that good body language was vital to this sort of action-comedy book. There’s personality there, though, and I’m excited to see Doyle really cut loose on some action in the next issue.
Of course, rigorous plotting is also pretty important to many good comedies (Arrested Development and Community are two of the most spectacularly-paced, well-plotted television shows I’ve ever seen, for example), and Asmus has that well in hand. The issue is divided smartly into A, B, and C plots, and whenever energy begins to flag in one, BOOM! a homicidal-but-sensual clone and a devil goat have a brief adventure that reminds us of the book’s ongoing metaplot. One of the most important things that a comedy can do is figure out which pairings work best – Quantum and Woody together on their own too often could devolve quickly into simple shouting matches, but this issue shows that each of them thrives when partnered with madmen and lunatics. Woody’s wit gets sharper and even more spectacularly ill-advised, while Eric’s most hilariously pathetic tendencies tend to stand out.
Like Valiant’s similarly excellent Archer and Armstrong, Quantum and Woody excels when it blends interpersonal drama, modern American neuroses, and a healthy dose of absurdism. The series needs to build up some comic momentum, which typically leaves the first issue of any given arc feeling pretty dry. While Quantum and Woody #7 never quite reaches the manic high of the series’ best issues, it continues to build towards what is almost certainly going to be an absolutely insane climax. But it also goes even further in establishing Eric – Quantum – as the heart of the series. Woody gets the best lines and has the most fun, but without the increasingly melancholy backstory of Quantum the Perpetual Beta, I don’t know that I’d care as much. As the cast gets bigger (and weirder), it will be easy to lose track of the very human heart of the story, but if Quantum and Woody #7 does nothing else*, it definitely shows why Eric is so damn important to what makes the series work.
My rating: 3.5 / 5
*it also makes you giggle. So it does do something else.