This comic is just so wrong, but it does it so well. After blowing up a perfectly innocent panda in the previous issue, what else could writer James Asmus and artist Steve Lieber do in “Quantum and Woody Must Die” #4? Would you believe the issue opens with crowds running in horror from a suicide sloth? Yes. A suicide sloth. As in a three-toed, tree-dwelling mammal indigenous to South and Central America, only this one has a suicide bomb strapped to its body. Naturally, that makes this a job for Quantum and Woody!
Asmus and Lieber continue the crazy, wacky, anything-goes superhero-tinged action buddy comic series with an issue wherein just about anything does go. Asmus writes in a few laugh-out-loud moments and Lieber goes along for the ride, adding in visual humor to match the story beats from Asmus. Somehow, Woody manages to become a crime pimp. Nowhere else could those words be put together than in a discussion of this comic. The crazy thing is that this barely covers a quarter of what Asmus and Lieber pack into this adventure.
Lieber’s art is nothing short of masterful. Quantum is the only costumed character in the issue, but that barely matters. This is not a typical superhero comic nor does it try to be, as Lieber shows throughout the issue, handling everything from a police interrogation to a suicide sloth dumping out coffee and snatching eclairs from a recently-vacated table on a bistro patio. When little Cupids show up for Quantum, trying again and again to pierce his thick skull while the virtually ignorant “hero” talks to his gal pal Sheila, it doesn’t seem silly but rather walks right in line with the tone of the issue. Dave McCaig hits all the right color notes, and letterer Dave Lanphear shares time and space with Lieber, including a panel where a grappling hook is launched with the sound effect of “SFX.” Emojis are used inside of word balloons for an advancing, menacing crowd and other characters throughout, embedding Quantum and Woody’s latest adventure in the here and now, but doing so in a most amusing manner.
Just when things seem to be wrapping up nicely, Asmus and Lieber throw more chaos and hilarity into the mix and leave plenty of dangling plot ideas and subplots for whatever format the unlikely brothers face next. Readers who have been missing their “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” fix would be smart to give this book a look. Or fans of “Robot Chicken.” Or “mature” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) comic fans jonesing for something completely different in their reads. Like Jimi Hendrix music, however, this comic is not for everybody, but the people who get it are really going to enjoy it and really want to share it with everyone else.
“Quantum and Woody” has routinely been a refuge for readers to laugh about things that shouldn’t be this funny, but — with “Quantum and Woody: Must Die” #4 and indeed this entire series — Asmus and Lieber continue to find new ways to get a laugh (sure, some of the tried-and-true old ways work too) and clearly have fun crafting irreverent adventures that explore the perimeter of what comic books can and should be.