Valiant has rearranged its publishing model for the World’s Worst Superhero Team, breaking their adventures up into a series of minis which, all told, seems like a great idea for 2015. Quantum and Woody are a team that already buck the trend of how superhero books are put together, so why not try something different? “Quantum and Woody Must Die” #1 introduces this new idea and, through it, brings in rising comedy artist du jour Steve Lieber and a script from veteran Q&W writer James Asmus.
The story spins its wheels a little too much, giving huge chunks of the story over to seemingly inconsequential episodes that don’t really push the story forward, like Eric, Woody and Vincent having lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Because of the static nature of comic books, it sticks out a lot more when the plot of a story is held up by a joke; when the images are all in front of a reader and the storytelling real estate is far sparser, it’s a bit more noticeable. That isn’t to say there isn’t some fun comedy in here, but — for a first issue — the plot feels more like filler than anything. When the duo accidentally exposes someone to terminal illness-inducing radiation during the interruption of a stickup, everything stops for 10% of the story to deal with lunch. Asmus is a good comedy writer and, when the comedy comes while Eric and Woody are taking action, it works a lot better. Quantum being genuinely flattered that a woman he rescued may be flirting with him and Woody trying to hook up with the Domino Twins instead of apprehending them are great examples of the comedy elements blending well with the other parts of what make this series so great.
Lieber’s art is even better than it was in “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” and adds to the comedy that Asmus always brings to the table. He immediately understands these characters; when Eric lets his guard down as the woman flirts with him, there’s a subtle shift in his body language that makes him both more confident and more vulnerable at the same time. Woody’s reaction to Dr. Skinner’s appearance in their home is wonderful and Vincent’s drugged out reaction do Dr. Skinner’s special prescription snack is a hilarious and simple one-panel joke.
Asmus is closing the walls in on the duo, delivering a very obvious threat while also adding elements of another possible issue with Skinner and another with their psychiatrist. At the same time, their profile has never been higher, as evidenced by the public’s reaction at the end of the issue. Giving characters like these exactly what they want is great, because readers know they’ll screw it up even while secretly hoping they succeed. While this first outing has some pacing issues, it’s a great start to this bold new era of “Quantum & Woody.” Asmus and Lieber are a good team; here’s hoping they become a great team as the series moves forward.